The Scottish SPCA is calling for legitimate breeders to join their scheme helping hopeful dog owners identify trustworthy places to buy puppies.
The free Assured Puppy Breeder Scheme was launched in response to the significant increase in bad actors taking advantage of the swell in demand for dogs over lockdown.
Last year, the charity rescued more than 150 puppies from low-welfare farms or dealers where many were taken from their mothers too early or left riddled with infectious diseases due to a lack of vaccinations or unsanitary conditions.
In several cases, the sickly dogs died not long after being adopted.
The new voluntary scheme is open to any breeder in Scotland, and is based around a framework developed by the Scottish SPCA to assess conditions.
Gilly Mendes Ferreira, the charity’s head of education, policy and research, said: “Now more than ever, we need to provide assurance for the public that they are buying a puppy from responsible breeders.
“The general public can view members of the scheme through our ‘Say No to Puppy Dealers’ website and look into buying a puppy safely from them.”
The Scottish SPCA is calling for legitimate dog breeders to sign up for their scheme helping consumers identify low-welfare dealersInspectors will visit breeders who sign up for the Assured Puppy Breeder Scheme annually, to ensure high welfare standards are in place and offer one-to-one support.
As well as year-round guidance, members will also be provided with a welcome pack for every new owner, and can get four weeks’ free insurance for their pups from Petplan.
Ms Mendes Ferreira added: “As long as puppies are suffering due to this industry, we will do what we can to bring down this despicable trade.
“Sadly, public demand for the ‘next-day delivery’ of a puppy remains sky-high and this is fuelling the multi-million-pound low-welfare trade.
“We’ll continue to tackle traders and dodgy dealers, but we also want to highlight the breeders in Scotland who prioritise the welfare of parents and pups.
“We know there’s thousands of breeders across the country who do just that and we hope many of them will join this scheme.
“The scheme forms part of the wider resources we’ve made available to educate the public on how a proper breeder should take them through the rehoming process.
“We are very pleased to have the support of Trading Standards Scotland. This gives the public another avenue they can report concerns to, especially if they spot adverts on online selling sites they think are fraudulent.”
Julie McCarron, head of intelligence and co-ordination at Trading Standards Scotland, said: “We are supporting the Scottish SPCA Assured Puppy Breeder Scheme because it gives consumers a means of ensuring that they are obtaining a puppy from a reputable source.
“It gives consumers peace of mind that their pup is likely to be healthy and is not likely to require costly vet treatment.
“It also helps avoid the emotional distress of having purchased a sick animal who may die soon after it is purchased.”
More information about how to join the scheme can be found by clicking here.