Over 80% Of Scots Think It Is Unsafe To Buy A Puppy Online – Despite Demand Being Higher Than Ever

A new survey has revealed 84% of Scots do not think it is safe to buy a puppy online.

The Scottish SPCA survey, which collated information from 3,025 respondents, comes off the back of reports of massive spikes in interest in online searches to purchase puppies during the coronavirus lockdown.

People who are not responsible breeders almost exclusively sell puppies online and the puppy trade is reported to be worth over £13m every year in Scotland. The survey also showed 15% of Scots believe they may have purchased a pup from someone who is not a responsible breeder.

Of those who felt they had been duped, 45% said they were unable to get paperwork or information on the pup. 24% said they were told they could not meet the mum of the pup they were buying, whilst 23% said their pup became unwell or died shortly after purchase.

35% of Scots said they were not confident they would be able to tell the difference between a responsible breeder and a puppy dealer.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “There tends to be a spike in interest in buying a pup during the school holidays. Combined with lockdown, many people being at home more and a lack of supply from responsible breeders, it is a perfect storm for puppy dealers and traders to profit.
“The fact that one in three Scots would struggle to tell whether someone is a responsible breeder is a sign of how hard a dodgy seller will work to create the impression they are genuine.
The survey also revealed 20% of people think it is very important they get a puppy quickly once they have paid for it – compared to 11% who think it is not important at all. Responsible breeders typically have waiting lists and there can be several months between the initial enquiry to buy a pup and actually getting one.
Mike said: “The next-day delivery culture people now live by plays right in to the hands puppy traders. Of course, the criminals involved disappear just as quickly as they sell a dog. When the problems start, the people who bred and sold the dog are nowhere to be seen and the buyer is left in horrendous emotional distress and a considerable vet bill.”
“I’ve said it so many times – we will continue to take the fight to the puppy trade, but the only way we can stop it once and for all is for the Scottish public, many of whom we know are animal lovers, to say no to puppy dealers and adopt or buy responsibly.”

Since 2018, the Scottish SPCA has supported the Scottish Government’s ‘Buy a Puppy Safely’ campaign, which encourages people to walk away if they spot the signs the seller is not a responsible breeder.

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon said:

The increased demand for puppies that we have seen as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis shows the scale of the challenge we face tackling irresponsible and illegal breeders who are driven purely by profit.
“We are committed to ensuring the sale of puppies is undertaken responsibly and safely. Our legislation, which has been in place in Scotland since 2009, already requires dealers to be licensed.
“Whilst it’s great to see 84 percent of those surveyed are aware of the risks of buying puppies online, it’s crucial that we continue to raise awareness of this through the Buy a Puppy Safely campaign. This will help ensure people have all the information they need to help them recognise and report illegal breeders.”

The Scottish SPCA spearheads Operation Delphin, a UK-wide taskforce set-up to combat the puppy trade. The charity’s special investigations unit works with other animal welfare organisations, the Scottish and UK Governments, local authorities and private sector partners. The Scottish SPCA’s work has enabled HMRC to recover over £1.5m in tax from puppy traders.

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