Brits purchasing ‘pandemic puppies’ from dodgy breeders could cost £400m in vet bills

(Picture: Getty)

With many of us working from home or reassessing what we really want from life, the pet industry is booming.

Kennel Club puppy registrations rose 26% between April and July, with predictions from animal welfare charities expecting a further spike in the run up to Christmas.

Research from the Kennel Club found 41% with a pandemic puppy said they wanted a lockdown companion, and in total 41% of people who bought a puppy in the last year did not see the puppy with its mother and 53% did not see its breeding environment.

Pet care brand Bob Martin has identified a tenfold spike in demand for people looking to purchase a companion animal whilst in lockdown, with the cost of not rehoming or buying from responsible breeders reaching £400 million across the country.

You may have read recent stories – including that of Love Islander Molly-Mae Hague – about perfectly healthy-seeming puppies being brought home only to become ill (and in some cases die) not long after.

Parvovirus can cost £5,000 to treat (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

This is being touted at ‘pet-fishing’, whereby breeders come across as responsible and careful online, but are running cruel and neglectful operations behind the scenes – and therefore selling very sick pets to unsuspecting customers.

Of around 400,000 puppy farmed dogs sold in the UK, it’s thought that a fifth of these have a disease called parvovirus.

Parvovirus is extremely contagious and typically affects unvaccinated dogs, spreading through faeces and items infected dogs have touched.

With parvovirus treatments costing up to £5,000, Bob Martin’s research estimates the yearly cost of puppy farming in the UK could be up to £400 million.

The company are now warning prospective pet owners to do their homework before purchasing a quarantine companion.

How to avoid being pet-fished

Aurelie Gayraud, Senior Brand Manager at Bob Martin, gives her top tips on how prospective buyers can avoid being ‘pet-fished’ and stung with the colossal vet bills:

  • Make sure you purchase a pet through a reputable breeder wherever possible. The Kennel Club’s website is a good place to start researching this, but if you’re buying online, be extremely careful and make sure you’re aware of what to watch out for. Never buy a puppy from a random location such as a petrol station or car park.
  • Always ask to see the puppy’s mother, make sure you’re buying the puppy in the breeding environment and ensure you take a good look at the breeder’s house. If something doesn’t feel right, or it sounds too good to be true, you should probably walk away from the sale.
  • Always be sceptical if the breeder doesn’t ask you about your circumstances. If they don’t sound bothered about the pet’s welfare after the sale, this should certainly sound some alarms.
  • Always ask to see the relevant health certificates for the puppy and its parents. Report any concerns to the relevant authorities or the RSPCA if you suspect you’re dealing with a puppy farm.
  • When you’ve brought a new pet into your home, ensure you treat it with relevant flea and tick treatments to ensure they’ve not brought any nasty parasites with them from the breeders’ place.

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