Published: 07:32, 01 August 2019
| Updated: 14:53, 13 September 2019
A leading animal charity is urging animal lovers thinking of buying a puppy to consider adopting a rescue pet instead.
The message comes as new figures reveal last year was the worst yet for complaints about the puppy trade in England.
In Kent, the RSPCA received 25 complaints in 2008 compared to 217 last year.
Nationally, 4,357 complaints during the 12 month period across the UK - a 390% increase from 10 years ago when it recorded just 890 incidents related to the underground industry.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “It is distressing that we are still seeing so many reports about puppy farms but part of this increase is probably due to people being more savvy about what to look out for when getting a pet.
"We urge families to carefully consider whether getting a dog is right for them. Dogs are a huge commitment and need lots of time and attention.”
The charity say there has been a year-on-year increase in such reports over the past decade as more and more unscrupulous breeders and dealers seek to cash-in on the growing puppy market - where dogs of certain breeds can sell for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
There are lots of benefits to adopting a rescue dog from a reputable organisation, such as providing a second chance to an animal that hasn’t had the best life and providing a forever home to one who has only ever experienced a caged life.
Puppies and dogs will also be fully vet-checked, vaccinated, microchipped and often neutered so people needn’t worry about the costs of all of these extras which often come with the puppy trade.
Rescue animals may have also had some basic training already in kennels and animal lovers will receive ongoing support and advice if needed.
RSPCA centres also offer six weeks of free pet insurance.
Here are some top tips for families thinking of getting a puppy this summer
Do lots of research and make sure you can commit to a new dog before looking for your new family member.
Adopt don’t shop - visit your local centre to see if you can offer a rescue dog a home.
Use The Puppy Contract - a guide to how to responsibly source a puppy which can help you find a happy, healthy dog.
Always visit more than once and the see the mum and puppies interacting together.
Be wary of any breeder who won’t let you or pressure you into buying.
If you’re concerned about something you see at a breeder then walk away, do not buy the puppy.
To report any concerns to the RSPCA call 0300 1234 999 or police on 101 or your local council.
More by this authorAleeza Shah