Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Please don't buy pet store or internet puppies for Christmas!

The puppy in the photo at the left came from a shelter. His name is Jake. Of course there is nothing cuter in the world than a baby animal, but emotions often overwhelm common sense when it comes to buying a puppy.

I received a press release from the RSPCA in Great Britain. Please read this, and think in terms of US puppies and buyers-- the shame is the same. If you know someone who is considering buying a puppy for the holidays, this is a must-read, although the problem continues throughout the year. As the American Kennel Club reminds us, "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas." So buyer beware, and read on:

How much is that doggy on the Internet?
Risk of parents being conned this Christmas by 'counterfeit' puppies

Many parents will be scouring the internet to find the best deal on toys and gadgets this Christmas, which means facing the online threat of 'counterfeit' goods. However, there's another item on the list and it's not the latest games console or fad toy, but one of the 50,000* trafficked puppies believed to be imported from Ireland each year, as well as those bred by unscrupulous breeders in the UK.

Nearly a third (32 per cent) of people thinking about buying a puppy admitted they will search the internet or ads in a local newspaper to find a cut-price, puppy bargain and 45 per cent would be prepared to pay less than £200, according to new research¹ from animal welfare charity, the RSPCA.

The charity is concerned that, despite warnings not to buy a puppy this Christmas, people are unaware of the threat of potentially huge hidden costs, and dangers of buying a 'counterfeit' puppy.**

Furthermore, almost one in five people (19 per cent) planning to buy a puppy are giving in to the demands of their family's children. The research shows that the combination of desperate parents, and the Christmas rush for presents, could create the perfect storm for the puppy 'counterfeiters' who have little regard for animal welfare and whose main concern is profit.

When asked about buying a puppy, 92 per cent of those planning to purchase feel it is important to know where it has come from, yet more than half (56 per cent) say they plan to get one from an advertisement in a newspaper, on the internet or from a pet shop1. Based on complaints received from members of the public, the RSPCA believes this increases the chance of buying a 'counterfeit' puppy, with potentially fatal health problems such as Canine parvovirus or worms. This means that some new owners could find themselves facing the heartache of a very sick or even dead puppy after Christmas.

Justine Pannett, spokesperson from the RSPCA, said: "The RSPCA warns people not to buy puppies as Christmas presents. It's quite shocking to learn that despite this, people may be treating shopping for a puppy in much the same way they would for other Christmas gifts, like a Wii, and looking at ways to make savings wherever possible. There's no cheap way to be a puppy owner. People thinking about buying a puppy don't just need to plan for the initial cost of buying it. They also need to consider the on-going costs and commitment needed to care for a dog throughout its life."

The RSPCA emphasises the importance of thorough research before buying a puppy. A few examples of checks that can be done include always seeing a puppy with its mother in the place where it was bred, as well as checking vaccination cards and vet details carefully. The charity also advises that if the vet's contact details are obscured or are registered outside of the UK, the vaccination card could be a fake.

One mother from Kent, who remains anonymous due to an ongoing investigation, gave into pressure from her children to buy a puppy and has regretted not researching its origins ever since. This October, after scouring the newspapers and internet an advertisement on a website selling puppies caught her eye. She went to the breeder's home in Surrey with her family and paid £250 for Archie, a Jack Russell puppy. Despite seeing what the breeder claims was a vaccination card, within five days Archie became dehydrated, was diagnosed with suspected Canine parvovirus and placed on a drip. A few days later he was put to sleep.

"We were all absolutely devastated," the Mother said. "I feel like I've been very naïve but you don't expect to get a puppy and for it to die just a few days later. Archie was supposed to have been vaccinated, but when we looked closer the card we had been given by the breeder looked like a fake. Next time we will do more research and think very carefully about where we get a puppy from."

Justine concluded: "Puppy trafficking is an appalling, profit-driven business and we can't emphasise enough the importance to Britain's dog-loving public of working together to fight the puppy 'counterfeiters'. It's not always easy to spot a trafficked puppy just from looking at it, but we recommend doing thorough research before buying a puppy, to help save heartache and spare people from lining the pockets of unscrupulous 'counterfeiters'."

To find out more about puppy trafficking please visit
* Figures estimated by the RSPCA (from intelligence gathered by its Special Operations Unit)
** A 'counterfeit' puppy is one that has a fake vaccination card, fake pedigree papers (if any) or where the seller either won't disclose, or lies about, where it comes from [1] Survey commissioned by the RSPCA with TNS, sample size of 3037 GB Adults aged 16-64, November 2009

The full survey results are available from the press office.

To watch a short film on the subject, visit

Tips on buying a puppy are also available at

About the RSPCA
The RSPCA has joined forces with the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation and other leading animal welfare organisations to develop a 10-point guide for the public on how to choose a puppy. For further information please visit

Photo by Terry Albert ©2009. All rights reserved.

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Twinkietinydog said...

Great post. I'm a rescue myself and so is my entire family. Humans, please, please adopt. There's too many of us out there and we NEED you.

Anonymous said...

Do Not buy Puppies through Internet ads. It will break your heart. I know.

These pups are usually from Puppy Mills shipped all over the country!!!

Beware of sick parisite infected pups!