From puppy farming to trafficking puppies from Ireland and Eastern Europe, puppy profiteering is a scourge that leads to suffering, sickness and loss. It’s time the puppy trade stopped putting profit above welfare.
Future family pet? Or a breeding bitch worth £5000 a year?
Essential vaccination? Or an unnecessary cost that hurts the bottom line?
Fresh air and space to run? Or stack them high and sell them cheap?
We love our dogs in Scotland. They’re much loved members of lots of families, and they have to come from somewhere. However, due to a huge demand for dogs and the absence of better laws and a better-informed public, puppies and breeding bitches are suffering.
The puppy trade in Scotland and the UK, which includes the import, breeding and sale of puppies for commercial purposes is very diverse ranging from small hobby breeders to large-scale puppy “farms.”
The hidden costs of the puppy profiteering business are sickness, distress, suffering and loss. It means that puppies are very often sold to new owners with preventable diseases, painful conditions, and long-term behavioural problems due to lack of early socialisation. There’s also heartache for families when their beloved new pets become sick, and even die.
Who are the puppy profiteers?
OneKind uses the term “puppy profiteers” to describe breeders and others involved in the trade who prioritise profit over animal welfare standards. There are three main types of puppy profiteers:
- Puppy traffickers – These are the people who illegally important puppies into Scotland and the UK, mostly from Eastern Europe and the Republic of Ireland. Animals brought into the UK this way are transported in very poor conditions with many not strong enough to survive.
- Puppy farmers – Puppy farms that operate in Scotland are doing so legally, but while legal, these premises often provide inhumane and unsafe environments for puppies and their parents.
- Puppy dealers – These people work as the middlemen and help traffickers and illegal breeders find a way into the market. The increase in pet trading online will often see them sell animals in public places with no documentation.
What is the current law in Scotland?
The breeding and sale of dogs in Scotland is regulated under the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973, as amended by the Breeding of Dogs Act 1991 and the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999.
The Act requires all establishments in Scotland where five or more litters of puppies are born in a year to be licensed by the local authority, and it also covered bitches kept in a separate location or relatives of the owner. There are also some local authorities who require a licence for a smaller number of litters.
In September 2017, the Scottish Government announced that it would be carrying out a review of dog breeding and licensing in Scotland.
The OneKind Puppy Plan
OneKind has developed an eight-point plan to protect puppies in Scotland. The plan, if implemented, would reduce the options for selling puppies through inappropriate channels, aid enforcement of the law and discourage people from purchasing puppies from the wrong people in the wrong places.
- Ban third-party sales – Third-party sales of dogs (i.e. sales by dealers and pet shops) should be banned
- Mandatory puppy warranties – A warranty for financial reimbursement to be given if the
- puppy dies or develops a hereditary defect within a specified period.
- Sales in licensed premises only – The handover of the puppy must take place at the address of the premises in Scotland where the animal was born or kept.
- Cap the numbers in breeding establishments – The number of breeding bitches that may be kept in a single establishment should be limited and there should be a limit of the number of animals a single individual is responsible for.
- Make every commercial sale subject to a licence or registration
- Mandatory standard for internet sales – Mandatory standards should be set for all internet sites that carry adverts for pets for sale.
- Educate consumers – A public education programme should be designed to stop people ordering and taking delivery of puppies without knowing about their origins.
- Better controls on entry to UK – The age for dogs entering the UK under the Pet Travel scheme should be increased to six months. No more than two puppies should travel with each passenger, with a maximum of three per transport.
What is OneKind doing?
OneKind is focusing on securing changes in policy and laws so that dogs are better protected, and puppy profiteering is stamped out.
In 2017, OneKind released the report Scotland’s Puppy Profiteers to expose puppy profiteering in Scotland and put forward a progressive legislative agenda to tackle it. This report summarises the evidence base behind our campaigning and advocacy in this area.