Following the case of a vet from Uxbridge who supplied fake health cards and vaccination certificates to a puppy farming gang, getwestlondon has looked into how you can avoid buying illegally bred dogs.
A jury at Isleworth Crown Court unanimously convicted Daniel Doherty, of Wood Lane in Iver Heath, on a charge of conspiring to commit fraud by making false representations to members of the public for the purpose of selling puppies.
The RSPCA's Operation Rivet found 49-year-old Doherty provided discounted cash-in-hand vaccinations for thousands of puppies over the course of several years.
The investigation involved raids at puppy farms from where animals, many of which were sick or even dying , were sold to unsuspecting members of the public across south-east England.
What is a puppy farm?
The Kennel Club, the country's largest dog welfare charity, define puppy farmers as "a high volume breeder who breeds puppies with little or no regard for the health and welfare of the puppies or their parents".
With their main focus being profit, puppy farmers typically separate puppies from their mothers too early, ignore guidelines about the maximum frequency of litters, provide inadequate socialisation of puppies and fail to follow breed-specific health schemes or to apply basic, routine health measures such as immunisation and worming.
What does the law have to say?
The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 and Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 introduced licences for breeding establishments and dog sales.
Licensing and inspection of breeding establishments was delegated to local authorities, but The Kennel Club said they can "lack the resources and expertise to properly address poor breeding practices".
How to spot a puppy farmer
The Kennel Club has issued the following advice for staying clear of puppy farmers when buying a puppy.
- Always go to a reliable and reputable Kennel Club Assured Breeder.
- Ask to see the puppy's mother.
- See the puppy in its breeding environment and ask to look at the kennelling conditions if they were not raised within the breeder's house. If you suspect the conditions are not right, then do not buy the puppy.
- Ask to see the relevant health test certificates for the puppy's parents.
- Be prepared to be put on a waiting list - a healthy puppy is well worth waiting for.
- Ask if you can return the puppy if things don't work out. Responsible and reputable breeders will always say yes.
- Be suspicious of a breeder selling several different breeds, unless you are sure of their credentials.
- Consider alternatives to buying a puppy like getting a rescue dog or pup.
- Report your concerns to the relevant authority if you suspect the breeder is a puppy farmer.
- Buy a puppy from a pet shop.
- Pick your puppy up from a 'neutral location' such as a car park or motorway service station.
- Buy a puppy because you feel like you're rescuing it. You'll only be making space available for another poorly pup to fill and condemning further puppies to a miserable life
If you suspect somebody is a puppy farmer, report them to the RSPCA, the police or your local authority.
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