Fears over online puppy sales

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The number of complaints against illicit puppy trading has spiked in the borough following a rise in online animal sales.

New figures from the RSPCA have revealed England’s puppy farming hotspots, with Greater Manchester coming second in the whole of the UK.

The charity is seeing a steady growth in the number of complaints concerning the illegal puppy trade, 87 per cent of which are from people who purchased their puppy online.

At this point in time there are currently 22 adverts on Gumtree alone for dogs on sale in Wigan and Leigh, 20 of which are advertising newborns from puppy litters.

“We urge anyone thinking of buying a puppy to be extremely careful when they’re choosing what type of dog to buy, where to buy from and who to buy from,” RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Richards explained.

“It’s so important to do lots of research not only into the type of dog you want and the kind of care needed, but also into any potential breeder that you’re considering going to.

“Today, particularly with the rise of puppies being advertised and sold online, it’s becoming more and more difficult to tell the responsible breeders apart from the unscrupulous ones.

“We would encourage anyone who is thinking of getting a puppy to use the Puppy Contract to help ensure they buy a happy, healthy dog.”

The study, which was done in partnership with Gumtree, shows a worrying increase in the number of animal sales taking place online.

RSPCA stings on organised puppy selling networks have uncovered criminal gangs making up to £35,000 a week by selling dozens of puppies - often fashionable breeds and designer crossbreeds.

The most popular breeds include French Bulldogs, Jack Russells, Pugs and German Shepherds.

The charity has rescued more than 1,200 from puppy farms across the country in the past four years

“These statistics reveal the scale of the online puppy selling market and it’s very concerning,” Lisa added.

“We want all sellers to put the welfare of their dogs and puppies ahead of everything else but, unfortunately, there are many dealers who care only about their profits at the expense of the animals’ health and welfare.

“While classified websites, if used responsibly, can be an effective method of advertising for responsible breeders and rescue organisations, sadly, far too many people abuse the internet and this has led to many animal welfare issues arising.

“As well as the classified websites, like Gumtree, working with us to crack down on these dealers, we also need the public’s help to stamp out this underground trade. So please take care when buying a puppy. We know it’s hard but if you’re concerned about anything when you visit a breeder, walk away and call the RSPCA and your local authority.”

Morten Heuing, general manager at Gumtree UK, has confirmed that the website will continue to crack down on the illegal puppy trade.

He said:“Whilst most people have safe and successful experiences rehoming dogs on Gumtree, there are a minority of unscrupulous breeders and dealers who put profit ahead of the health and welfare of the animals.”