Warning to dog lovers not to buy illegally bred puppies
People looking to buy a puppy this Christmas are being urged to 'walk away' from puppy farms.
Animal lovers looking to buy a puppy in the run-up to Christmas are being urged to "walk away" if they suspect it has been bred in an illegal puppy farm.
Sheila Voas, the chief veterinary officer for Scotland said, in what was the most popular time for families to buy a puppy, people should be "cautious and do their homework".
She issued the warning as the Scottish Government launched a new campaign in a bid to make people more aware of the signs a dog could have been bred illegally.
Only a quarter (24%) of those buying a puppy do so from an approved breeder, recent research has indicated.
Online sales of dogs are estimated to amount to £13m a year, but a large proportion of these could be illegally farmed animals.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: "Puppy farmers are highly active at Christmas and thrive on impulse purchases.
"We work very hard at this time of year to educate the public that getting a pet is a lifelong commitment and research is required to ensure you get a healthy puppy from an assured breeder.
'The most important thing is to see the puppy with its mother and to get the correct paperwork.'Sheila Voas, the chief veterinary officer for Scotland
"Owning a pet can be a wonderful experience, bringing years of companionship and love, but it is also a huge responsibility and it's a decision that should never be made on a whim or just for Christmas."
To help, the Scottish Government has set up a new website where people can find information on how to spot illegally bred dogs.
Buyers are urged to check the breeder has a local authority licence and/or is a member of the Kennel Club's assured breeder scheme.
In addition, people should check paperwork, including vaccination records and microchipping certificates, meet the dog's mother and also check the animal is at least eight weeks old.
Ms Voas said: "This time of year is the most popular for families to buy a puppy but unfortunately, that means illegal breeders benefit even more at Christmas.
"We're urging the public to be cautious and do their homework before buying a puppy.
"The most important thing is to see the puppy with its mother and to get the correct paperwork.
If there's no mum and no paperwork, then walk away and report your concerns to the Scottish SPCA helpline."