It is estimated that around 770,000 puppies are sold in the UK each year* and 400,000 of those puppies come from unlicensed breeders, many of whom are thought to be ‘puppy farmers’**.
Puppy farming is the mass production of dogs bred purely for profit at a significant cost to the welfare and health of the dogs involved. Similar to battery farming of hens, these animals are kept in cramped conditions, deprived of basic welfare and very often removed from their mothers at too early an age.
Puppies in these circumstances can be sold with a host of physical and behavioural problems that can create heartbreaking emotional and financial burdens for their unsuspecting new owners.
Even though NAWT rarely rehomes puppies, our centres experience the repercussions of puppy farming further down the line.
For example we’ve taken in exhausted breeding mums who have been dumped on the street. Similarly we’ve taken in “crossbreeds” who come in to the centres having become too difficult to manage due to their volatile temperament or for their unsuitability to the environment in which they live.
Of course we will always promote rescue and rehoming as the most practical, beneficial and cost-effective way of welcoming a new pet into your home.
However we are also realistic about the fact that a puppy is sometimes the only viable choice.
As we believe in promoting responsible pet ownership, our main aim during this Puppy Pledge week is to help prevent these sad situations from occurring through education.
Sign the NAWT Puppy Pledge
Our Puppy Pledge offers knowledge and insight for people going through the puppy buying process.
No one can resist an adorable puppy, which is why it is so important to ask all the right questions before visiting a breeder. It’s very hard to walk away from a purchase once you are holding a cute, fluffy bundle - especially if you think you are ‘rescuing’ it from a miserable environment.
The Pledge asks buyers to read our Puppy Buyer’s Checklist booklet, containing vital information and the few simple steps you can take to weed out dubious puppy suppliers - before you leave home.
There is also information about the current microchipping legislation. It is now a legal requirement for all breeders to microchip and register a puppy by the age of eight weeks before handing it over to the new owner.
Think of it like the paperwork we’re used to seeing when buying a car.
Throughout this week we’re asking people to sign the Puppy Pledge and to share the page, so that we can reach even more people. Hundreds have signed up so far, but we’d love to make that figure a lot higher.
1. Buyer beware – I will read the Puppy Buyer’s Checklist that gives advice on how to go about buying a happy, healthy puppy.
2. Check the Chip – I will ensure that the puppy we’re buying is microchipped and registered by the breeder on an approved database. When I buy the puppy I will transfer keepership into my name and will keep my details up to date on the database. If the seller cannot prove the microchip paperwork, then I will walk away.
3. Spread the Word – I will help other puppies by signing the Puppy Pledge and sharing the campaign.
Sign the Puppy Pledge here
* RSPCA ‘Sold a Pup’ publication 2016
**Figures based on survey of 2,003 dog owners carried out for the Kennel Club by Censuswide, in August 2015.