13 March 2019
French bull dog Carson. Photograph: Zara Hendry
Everyone wants a cute pet, but at what cost?
The internet has made it possible to buy anything online, from clothes to drugs, as long as you have the money you can get almost anything, including puppies.
Hundreds of puppies are born every single day in Scotland. They range from purebred shi tzus to mixed breeds such as cockapoos (cocker spaniel and poodle mix), but they all have one thing in common, they are all looking for their forever home.
Puppies can come from shelters (SPCA, Dogs Trust) or from breeders. People who are looking for a specific type of dog, such as a great dane or a Portuguese water dog are more likely to go to private breeders due to the rarity of the breed.
Zara Hendry got her puppy, a French bull dog, from a breeder in Falkirk. She chose to go through a breeder because she saw many benefits.
She said: “You know so much more about the dogs lineage and parents personality or any medical conditions in the line. The dog does not have any history or behaviour issues that may be underlying… Puppies are cuter than a fully-grown adult dog that’s clear to state, but a lot of people choose breeders because they have all information about the dog.”
Social media has made it increasingly easy for people to get their hands on a puppy. Gumtree has hundreds of adverts of puppies for sale, and there are various Facebook groups selling puppies and other animals.
The SPCA states: “If you have the money, you can easily find puppies for sale online.”
Hendry backed up the SPCA’s statement: “Too many people breed dogs for the wrong reasons, like money.”
The puppy breeding industry is big business and it is estimated that the number of puppies sold in Scotland in 2016/17 could range from 700,00 to 1.9 million and could be valued between £1000 million and £3000 million.
Puppy breeding has been met with a lot of criticism due to the practice of puppy farming, also known as a puppy mill, where multiple dogs are kept in inadequate conditions and bred repeatedly to ensure continuous profits. The puppies, as well as the dogs, can suffer from awful health effects and it can eventually lead to the puppies becoming ill and potentially dying.
The Scottish SPCA, alongside several other animal charities, have been campaigning to raise awareness of cruelty in the puppy trade with their #SayNoToPuppyDealers campaign, as well as working alongside the Scottish Government for their #BuyAPuppySafely campaign. They also work alongside a multi-agency partnership, known as Operation Delphin with agencies such as Police Scotland, the RSPCA, the USPCA and more.
The SPCA has several indicators for consumers to warn them about buying a puppy from an illegal puppy farm, this is shown below:
Infographic: Emma Lawson
There is currently a proposed update to legislation (the Animal Welfare Act of 2006) that ensures stricter laws on registration and the licensing of animal shelters in Scotland. This would also include illegal puppy farms and would ensure the welfare of the animals. It’s hoped that the updated legislation will discourage illegal puppy farming.
Alternatively, instead of getting a puppy from a breeder, there is always the option of adopting a dog from charities such as Dogs Trust or the SPCA. The SPCA currently have 288 dogs in their care, across all their centres. In Glasgow alone, they have 74 dogs that are currently looking for a new home. Roxy is one of these dogs, and is also one of the Glasgow centre’s longest residents – having been there for over four months, who has in the last few days found her forever home.
Crossbreed Roxy. Photograph: Scottish SPCA
SPCA Chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “When you rescue a dog, you are giving it a second chance in life and a happy ever after. Some of the dogs in our care haven’t had the best start to life and seeing them trust you and grow in confidence is so rewarding.
“A lot of people have preconceived notions of rescue animals. They think that animals in care will have behavioural issues, but this is not the case. Dogs come to our care for a number of reasons and behavioural problems make up a very small percentage of this.”
Caroline Lee adopted her dog, a shar pei, from Rescue Scotland. She has had her dog for over five years. She was following Rescue Scotland’s work and wanted to lend a hand by adopting one of their dogs.
Sher pai Saorise. Photograph: Caroline Lee
She also believes that more people should adopt a dog, rather than getting a puppy from a breeder due to the potential health issues and lack of knowledge from a breeder, as well as saying that too many people breed dogs.
When asked if she would ever consider breeding her dog she stated: “Absolutely not. Millions of beautiful dogs need a home.”
The SPCA are encouraging people to #SayNoToPuppyDealers to show their support to fight against the awful trade here.