On February 19, the RSPCA published its first comprehensive report on the puppy trade. Annually, 70,000 puppies come from Great Britain’s 895 licensed establishments. Sold a pup? Exposing the breeding, trade and sale of puppies’ estimates that a further 430,000 puppies originate from unlicensed breeders.
The annual market for the puppy trade in the UK is impossible to determine, but the RSPCA places its worth between 700,000 and 1.9 million. The charity believes that 20 percent of puppies are provided by neighbours or friends who breed accidentally or to increase their income. Just three to five percent are thought to be sold via commercial pet stores.
Large numbers of pets are imported to take advantage of the lucrative market. 30,000 puppies are thought to come from the continent per year. A further 40,000 may be brought in from Ireland.
The RSPCA reports that the growing fashion for breeds such as French bulldogs, Pomeranians, shih-tzus, Yorkshire terriers, and pugs, has led to a rise in the number of these puppies produced by licensed breeders and registered by the Kennel Club. Unlicensed breeders are believed to be cashing in by targeting these growing markets.
RSPCA’s assistant director of public affairs, David Bowles, said: “It is unclear if this demand for these specific breeds can be met from existing registered breeders within the UK, but what is clear is that the puppy dealers are one step ahead of the regulators and have already responded to these changing demands and are sourcing these breeds from overseas or large scale commercial puppy farms.”
The RSPCA will be calling on the government to crack down on puppy breeder. It hopes to halt illegal trafficking and backstreet breeding with a mandatory licensing scheme.