In the midst of this pandemic there is a puppy pursuit boom which is leading to people desperate to welcome a pup to their home to unwittingly take some pretty devastating risks.
Innocent people eager to make the best of this time at home are seeing an unprecedented opportunity to bring a dog into their lives whilst they have the time to settle and enjoy their new family member.
However, with reputable breeders usually having long waiting lists and some not mating their bitches due to lockdown plus rescue centres having to shut their doors to new applicants for some time, people are turning to alternatives to gratify that deep desire for a four legged friend.
A friend of mine has been looking for a couple of months for a dog to join her family and last week she was sorely tempted by a pup she had found on Gumtree. She called to tell me all about it and there were alarm bells ringing loud and clear in my ears.
First off, the pup was 7 weeks old and they wanted my friend to take this pup that very day. Second, they wanted her to take the pup without seeing the mother. And third they wanted to meet in a Tesco's car park in order to sell her the pup.
Yowser! Ok, so a puppy should never be sold under 8 weeks old. You absolutely want to see the puppy with it's mother and littermates - even during a pandemic this can be done by video call. And in no circumstances whatsoever should you collect your puppy from a car park. It is imperative that you see it in the home it's been raised in. The risks of not doing so are much more than you perhaps have ever considered.
The puppies experience in the first 8 weeks of it's life will play a huge role in what your puppy's personality, behaviour and confidence levels will be like. Aside from this, if a person is hiding where the mother of the pup, it's littermates or where it has been raised then there is a very high likelyhood that the conditions were poor and sadly this likely means your pup may have health issues to boot.
‘Lucy’s Law’ means that anyone wanting to get a new puppy or kitten in England must now buy direct from a breeder, or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead. Licensed dog breeders are required to show puppies interacting with their mothers in their place of birth. If a business sells puppies or kittens without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months.
You may feel that by purchasing this pup you are in a way rescuing it, but in reality you are contributing to the continuation of that individual's maltreatment of animals and their profiteering at both the buyers and dog's expense.
Prices of puppies and dogs alike have soared during lockdown, but not only will you be paying through the nose for that instant gratification, you will likely be spending a hell of a lot more for behavioural sessions, veterinary care or both. And that's before you've considered the heartbreak.
In addition to merciless backyard breeders there are dog thieves to beware of. Yup, that's individuals who steal puppies and dogs and sell them on. It's not unheard of for a chip to be checked years after a family acquire a dog to find he/she has long lost owners who have been searching for them. That's a hell of a lot of heartbreak as you give 'your' dog back to it's original family who have been grief-stricken too.
And then there are those who insist on a deposit for a dog that doesn't in fact exist. I have read a few stories lately of individuals who have paid a deposit, gone to collect the puppy and found the person at the address has had a handful of people knocking to collect pups which don't exist. Weeks later and the poor person who deposited said money for their eagerly anticipated puppy has people knocking at their door hoping to collect their puppies..... The fraudster has used the name and address of the first puppy buyer to dupe the next lot.
It's an absolute minefield. You can find more information to help you avoid getting duped at Get Your Pet Safely. Ultimately by going to a reputable breeder you may have to wait some time but it will be absolutely worth it. Not only will you get a puppy who has been well taken care of, it's mother will have been too and you will not be supporting the continuation of maltreatment of animals for human gain. Plus you'll avoid a whole lot of heartbreak. It'll be worth the wait.