Families across the north-east have been urged to steer clear of traders suspected to be from puppy farms while the demand for dogs has soared during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some breeds have more than doubled in price during the coronavirus pandemic as households turn to a man and woman’s best friend for company in lockdown.
The Scottish SPCA has reported puppy farms increasing operations in recent months to capitalise on the extra demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
Now families across the north and north-east have been urged to take care to avoid fuelling the illegal trade in pets.
‘We are now seeing impact of puppy purchasing in lockdown’
Charity Moray Arts Development Engagement (M:ade) ran a celebration event for dogs last year after organisers were horrified to learn of a suspected puppy farm operating in the region.
The group has now released a video to encourage households considering buying a pet to take responsible steps to ensure the seller is reputable.
Director Stacey Toner, who lives in Elgin and has two Shih Tzus Meryl and Maggie, said: “Working with local veterinary practitioners we hoped to raise awareness of the issue, through creative social action.
“Due to Covid-19, we delayed the release of this short film focused on responsible pet ownership, yet a year on the messages and sentiment are somewhat even more prominent.
“Given an increase in dog purchasing during lockdown, we are beginning to see the impact of uninformed decision making with many animals now up for rehoming with the prospect of owners returning to work.”
Huge price increases as pet demand soars during coronavirus lockdown
The Dogs Trust has reported huge increases in the price for puppies during last year due to the surging demand during lockdown.
The average price of Dachshunds increased from £973 in March to £1,681 by October while Pugs increased from £684 to £1,220 in the same period.
Meanwhile, the charity also found the number of online adverts for Beagles increased by 145% over the same timeframe.
- 151% increase for Beagles – £1,414 in October, £563 in March
- 134% increase for Chow Chows – £2,618 in October, £1,119 in March
- 78% increase for Pugs – £1220 in October, £684 in March
- 73% increase for Dachshunds – £1,681 in October, £973 in March
- 70% increase for French Bulldogs – £2,128 in October, £1,251 in March
- 49% increase for English Bulldogs – £2,436 in October, £1,637 in March
Investigations by the Scottish SPCA have found that puppy farms have been increasing operations during the coronavirus pandemic after seizing 150 young dogs last year with many dying before being found a new home.
Debbie Main, a registered vet nurse at the Moray Coast Vet Practice, said: “Sadly we have seen a few cases come through.
“Quite often the person has brought in the puppy for their first vaccination and has only had them for less than a day or just a few days.
“And what was a happy puppy in those first few hours has started to show signs of illness like pot belly, being lethargic and just not being the happy health pup they should be.
“Unfortunately some have had multiple health problems and had to be admitted to hospital and sometime they have not made it out and succumbed to their illness.”
Families urged to take steps to avoid puppy farms
The Scottish SPCA has reported its shelters for rehoming dogs are at capacity amid a 103% increase in calls about “unwanted pets” during lockdown.
The alarming rise has led to calls for families to be more considered when taking the decision to take on the responsibility of owning a dog.
Kathleen Robertson, president of the Scottish branch of the British Veterinary Association, has asked families to ensure households also take responsible steps once the decision is taken to buy a pet.
She said: “The important thing is to avoid buying pets on impulse – don’t buy from social media or market places.
“Don’t go meeting people in lay-bys or car parks. Just make sure you’ve done your research and speak to a vet or vet nurse if you have questions.”
However, the Scottish SPCA has reported puppy farms becoming more sophisticated in attempting to appear more legitimate during the coronavirus lockdown while still cashing in on demand.
Alison Simpson, chief inspector of the north region, said: “It can be quite hard because sometime puppy farms do use people like a householder.
“They tell them that if they give them these pups to sell then they will get a cut because it makes them appear as though they’re coming from a home environment.
“It’s just about asking a lot of questions. Which vet has it been to? Ask them if they’re happy with them. Has it been microchipped?”