The holidays are all about bringing joy, and nothing brings more joy to a person than a dog. It’s the reason puppies make such a popular Christmas gift. Sadly, something as well-intentioned as getting someone you love a new dog can have negative consequences.
As online searches for “adopt a puppy” rise during the gift-giving season, experts have an important warning. Sadly, some people out there see this only as a means for profit, at the expense of dogs’ well-being. Scammers and inhumane puppy mill operators capitalize on increased buyer interest, which harms dogs and people alike.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, said:
“After a difficult year and with many of us spending more time at home, many people may be considering getting a new puppy or kitten. However, the lead up to Christmas is a prominent time for unscrupulous sellers to take advantage of those looking to buy a new pet. That is why we are advising people to remain vigilant and to always thoroughly research sellers before getting in touch.”
The new “Petfished” campaign encourages this careful vetting process. Chris Sherwood, RSPCA’s Chief Executive, explained:
“We’re supporting the Petfished campaign to urge prospective buyers to always research the seller first. It is always much better to wait for the right dog than to rush into buying – and unwittingly support cruelty. If concerned, walk away from the seller and contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.”
Signs To Look Out For In Puppy Scams
To reiterate, this isn’t just an issue of money. Puppies sold online by scammers often come from an underground trade where they’re inhumanely raised. Sherwood notes:
“Dogs used in the underground puppy trade lead miserable lives in horrific conditions and their puppies often have lifelong health and behavioural problems due to their poor start.”
The “Petfished” campaign offers these tips to avoid supporting this by accident:
- Look at the seller’s profile and search their name online. If they are advertising many litters from different breeds, that’s a red flag.
- Check their contact details. Copy and paste the phone number into a search engine. If that same number appears on many different ads, sites and over multiple dates, this is likely a deceitful seller.
- Check the animal’s age. Puppies and kittens should never be sold if they are under 8 weeks old!
- Verify what medical treatment the animal has had. Ask for records.
Other Things To Consider When Looking For A “Christmas Puppy”
In addition to these concerns, many Christmas time puppy seekers don’t think their decisions through fully. They might consider a dog a cute gift, but not realize how much work goes into raising them properly. This leads to a lot of Christmas puppies ending up in shelters in January or February.
Middlemiss also points out that Christmas chaos doesn’t make for the best puppy raising environment.
“Potential buyers should also note that Christmas might not be the best time to get a pet as it can be noisy and chaotic, which isn’t the best environment to settle in a new animal.”
Dogs make such valuable, loving companions, and I’d always encourage rescue for anyone looking for one. Just remember, dogs are family members, and it takes commitment to care for one. Wait to adopt until you’re ready.