Some 31 percent of puppies bought online illness or death in their first year as people buy puppies impulsively and get duped by rogue breeders, research has suggested.
The research, for the Kennel Club’s Puppy Awareness Week which runs from 3-9 September 2018, shows that 18 percent of puppy buyers who bought their puppy on the internet after seeing the advert online, said their puppy got sick in their first year, which was then ongoing throughout its life, or sickness and eventual death. This compares to seven percent who experienced this overall. A further 13 percent experienced sickness in the first year but then went on to recover.
Amongst the most common conditions suffered by pups purchased this way were gastro-intestinal problems (14 percent), skin problems (19 per cent), pneumonia (eight percent) kennel cough (10 percent) and parvovirus (four percent).
In total, 28 percent who bought from the internet, claim they experienced financial hardship. Some 25 percent of pups bought online went on to die before their fifth birthday.
The research also found that 12 percent of people paid for their puppy before seeing it, amounting to an estimated one million dogs in the UK bought this way. Some 630,000 pups out of the estimated nine million strong dog population (seven percent of those surveyed) opt for home delivery pups.
Almost one third (31 percent) don’t see the puppy in its breeding environment and amongst those eight percent had their pup delivered to their door.
Some 20 percent either don’t see the puppy with its mum, or see it with a dog that they suspect was not the real mum. Of those asked, 23 percent of people think they could have bought from a puppy farm, while one in three admit they would now know how to spot a rogue puppy breeder.
Furthermore, one in three respondents said they did less than two hours’ research when buying a puppy, while a third also said buying a dog online caused “emotional hardship” and for more than a quarter of respondents, lead to “financial hardship”.
Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, said: “A shocking number of people are spending less than two hours researching their puppy purchase and this is leading to a serious welfare crisis. The internet is making it easier than ever before to buy things instantly, and this is having an alarming impact on the way people expect to buy a puppy.
“Whilst there is nothing wrong with seeing an advert for a puppy online, you should always then be looking to see the puppy’s home environment and the puppy with its mum. If a breeder is offering to deliver the pup to your house, asking to take money from you before you’ve even seen the pup, or trying to flog the puppy as quickly as possible, alarm bells should be ringing.”
She added: “Buying a puppy is meant to be a happy experience so it is extremely sad that so many people are experiencing emotional and financial hardship as a result. The government’s plans to ban the third party sale of puppies, through pet shops and the like, is hugely welcome but puppy buyers shouldn’t become complacent.”
Dragon’s Den star Jenny Campbell and TV doctor from Embarrassing Bodies, Dr Dawn Harper have joined forces with the Kennel Club to create an awareness film.
Campbell, who is a Kennel Club Assured Breeder and supporting the campaign, added: “People can hide behind the anonymity of the internet and you should avoid a breeder who isn’t prepared to be totally transparent with you when you come to meet the puppy. That is why it is so important that people go to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, and know what to look out for, which includes seeing the puppy with its mum and in its actual breeding environment.
“Never be tempted to pay money online before you see your pup, to have it be delivered to your door, or to buy from a breeder who wants you to take the pup home on your very first visit, or who only lets you see one room in the house. Seeing an advert for a puppy online isn’t the problem, it is what happens after you contact the breeder about the ad that is important.”