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1.2 million UK adults think puppy farms are a good way to get a responsibly bred animal*

20 April 2017

To mark National Pet Month, new research from Gocompare.com Pet Insurance has found that puppy buyers might not be fully aware of the dangers of puppy farming. 

  • More than 3 million UK adults have heard of the term puppy farm but admit they don't know much about them**
  • One in 10 puppy owners and potential buyers have never heard of the term puppy farm

With 8.5 million pet dogs in the UK***, it's clear that we're a nation of dog lovers. However, this desire for puppies has created a market where deceitful breeders operate and thrive.

Puppy farming is a cruel practice where dogs are bred solely for profit with little or no concern for the health and wellbeing of the puppies or their parents.

New research shows that we do not know the major warning signs of a farmed puppy and highlighted how important it is to educate potential dog owners on the most important signs of an ethically bred puppy.

  • Only one in three (32%) thought it was important to see the mother of the puppy
  • Less than half (46%) thought it was important to see where the puppy was kept
  • Three out of five prospective buyers neglect health checks such as vaccinations and microchipping before buying a puppy  

The study also found that upfront costs of the puppy were a big factor when choosing a puppy with almost one in 10 (9%) saying that getting a good price on the puppy would be their most important consideration and one in 20 (5%) influenced by hidden charges such as delivery costs, underlining why the practice of puppy farming is still widespread.

Commenting on the research, Amanda Bathory, Pet insurance expert said: "This research may come as a shock to many, with no-one wanting to fund such a cruel industry. But what the research also highlights is a knowledge gap when purchasing a puppy. 

"Consumers are savvy and will spend hours upon hours researching the breed of dog they want, that they know will fit right in with their family. But what they aren't focusing on is the specific dog that they are buying from the specific breeder they have found.

"Puppy farmers and dealers run a sophisticated operation, often hiding behind a digital veil of tried and tested methods to lure prospective buyers in to the puppy farm trap.

"It's very dangerous for the consumer, along with the heartache issue, buying a puppy from a puppy farm can be a serious hit on your finances. The Kennel Club estimate that one in five owners that bought puppies through classified ads spent between £500 and £1000 on vet's bills in the first six months of the puppy's life****."

Lisa Richards, Senior Scientific Officer at the RSPCA, also commented: "The awful conditions that puppies from unscrupulous breeders and dealers experience, can lead to both serious health conditions and long-term behavioural problems. So the puppy you thought would make a great family pet could go on to be seriously ill or afraid of new experiences, people or other animals, and could go on to behave aggressively later on in life.

"Our advice is always to do lots of research and use the puppy contract, it gives you all of the questions you need to be asking yourself and the breeder before buying a puppy.

"If there are any warning signs, if the breeder or dealer is evasive or if you're unsure always walk away. It might feel like you're rescuing the puppy, but sadly you're just making space for another one. So walk away and report it to the RSCPA and the local authority."

For more information visit Gocompare.com's guide on puppy farming.


Notes to editors:

*Between the 8th and 13th March 2017 One Poll conducted an online survey among 2000 randomly selected UK adults

UK adult population (18+) estimated to be 48,595,258 (source: ONS Annual mid-year population estimates for the UK 2015)

50% of survey participants stated that they had bought or were thinking of buying a puppy.  5% of those participants believe puppy farms are a good way of getting an animal that's responsibly bred and raised. 5% of 24,297,629 = 1,214,881.45

**50% of survey participants stated that they had bought or were thinking of buying a puppy.  16% of those participants said they had heard of the term puppy farm but didn't know much about them. 16% of 24,297,629 = 3,887,620

Percentages have been round up to the nearest whole number

***PFMA Pet Population report http://www.pfma.org.uk/pet-population-2016

**** The Kennel Club Puppy Awareness Week Survey http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/our-resources/kennel-club-campaigns/puppy-farming/puppy-awareness-week/