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Getting a new Puppy or Kitten?

November 2020

Getting a new Puppy or Kitten?

As we enter into Lockdown 2.0, a lot of you may be spending more time at home after being encouraged to work from home wherever possible. I’m sure that this increased time at home comes with its pros and cons, but one thing that a lot of people felt was missing in the first lockdown this year was a pet. We have therefore seen a huge increase in the amount of puppies and kittens at the Cape Veterinary Clinic this year, which of course has been lovely- I think we’d be in the wrong job if we didn’t enjoy this influx of young animals! However, unfortunately with an increased demand for pets there are people who take advantage of this and seek to increase “production” to profit from this demand, without considering the welfare of the animals involved. In this article I’ll discuss the issues surrounding puppy farming and how to avoid purchasing a pet from the wrong source.

It is also worth mentioning how important it is to realise the commitment that you undertake when deciding to get a pet- you will need to provide for your new pet every day and when people have less time working from home, your pet will still require the same level of care. A dog won’t be able to be left all day if you are no longer working from home to take it out and give it the attention that it deserves. To paraphrase the Dog’s Trust tagline- “A dog is for life, not just for lockdown.”

What is a puppy farm?

A puppy farm is defined as a high volume breeder with little or no respect for the welfare of their animals. Puppies are often removed from their mother too early and transported away from the site to try and disguise the situation.

With the rise in advertising animals for sale on the internet, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between a puppy/kitten that has been bred responsibly or from a ‘farm’. Quite often there have been adverts online for animals that need ‘rescuing’ which are actually just animals that have been bred irresponsibly for profit. These adverts are designed to tug on the heart strings and appeal to caring animal lovers who want to provide these animals with a happy home. Sadly, the immoral people who are running these puppy farms will profit hugely from anyone who wants to ‘rescue’ the pets from this sad situation and so we wanted to try and raise awareness on what you should do if you suspect there is a breeder who is acting irresponsibly.

Signs of ‘farmed’ puppies/kittens

• Adverts stating that there is “one puppy/kitten left” and that all the other litter mates have already been sold.
• Not meeting the mum of the puppies/kittens (a photo is NOT enough evidence). This has been extremely common during Covid-19, as breeders are using
• Multiple animals of differing ages/breeds at the property
• A dirty environment
• If the seller tries to meet you away from a home environment (eg. in a car-park/service station) to hand over the puppy/kitten

Unfortunately, many of these animals will have congenital issues which could cause them to suffer and ultimately shorten their lifespan. Even if they are lucky enough to have no serious health issues, they are likely to have not been socialised and may have behavioural issues. We find that pets from irresponsible breeders have not been treated for parasites or vaccinated and this can also put them at risk of infectious diseases.

What should you do if you suspect a puppy/kitten farm?

If you are concerned about the environment that you find the puppy/kitten in or you see a suspect advert online, we understand that it is very difficult to walk away without removing the puppy/kitten from that situation.

Instead of taking the animal away from this situation and allowing the breeder to profit from their actions, you should alert the RSPCA or the local police so that they can investigate the situation further and stop these people from keeping animals.

How to choose an animal responsibly

• Go to your local rescue centre- the RSPCA, BlueCross, Cat’s Protection and other local rescue centres are sadly over-run with animals that need a home. There is a common pre-conception that every animal that ends up in a rescue centre has issues. This is not always the case- quite often the animal is there through no fault of its own and there are even young puppies and kittens that require new homes.
• If you decide that you would like to go to a breeder- research them well. If they are Kennel Club registered, it is easier to check their credentials.
• A breeder should always be keen to choose the right homes for their pets- ask to go see them when they are very young and if the breeder protests about this, that is a warning sign in itself!
• Look closely at the environment- there shouldn’t be multiple different breeds in one home and it should be clean, organised and ideally within a family home rather than set up in an ‘out-building’.
• Always ask to meet the mum of the puppy/kitten. If there is any resistance to this demand, do not proceed.
• Look at each puppy/kitten- Are they interacting well with their litter mates?
– Do they have any nasal/eye discharge?
– Are they in good condition and well-fed?
– Most young animals will either be feeding, sleeping or playing.
If they are too quiet, this could be a sign of underlying issues.

As you can see from this article, the people running the ‘farms’ are not interested in the animals health or welfare and continually produce animals for profit alone. If there are any doubts or concerns about the conditions that you find an animal in, you should contact the RSPCA, police or local authority. If possible, do not be conned into taking the animal with you as it is likely suffering from serious health or behavioural issues and may require lifelong support for these issues.

The more aware we all are about the puppy farming issue, the higher chance we have of stopping this awful business which is so damaging to not only the young animals, but also the breeding bitches/queens which are often kept in poor conditions and over-bred.

If you are concerned about any of the issues raised in this article, or you are thinking of getting a puppy or kitten, please phone us at The Cape Veterinary Clinic on 01483 538990 for further advice.

Catherine Hannah BVSc MRCVS.
Ref: RSCPA, Kennel Club, BBC news

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