RSPCA Cymru has urged families thinking of getting a puppy this summer to consider the benefits of adopting a rescue dog – as shocking new figures reveal reports received by the charity about puppy trade concerns in Wales have soared 330% in the last decade.

Advice has been issued to prospective dog owners as the bombshell new figures reveal that the murky puppy trade is a growing problem in Wales.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “It is distressing that we are still seeing so many reports about the puppy trade in Wales.

“Part of this increase is potentially due to people being savvier about what to look out for when getting a pet, but a 330% soar in call figures over a decade is still a huge concern.

“Sadly, we fear an increased clamour for certain popular types of dog is partly fuelling the underground, unscrupulous puppy trade that puts a quick buck before the welfare of these poor pups.

“We know there’s a spike in people searching for puppies at the beginning of the school holidays but we’d urge families to carefully consider whether getting a dog is right for them.

“Dogs are a huge commitment and need lots of time and attention, even once summer is over and the kids are back at school.

“If you do have the time and money for a dog then we’d urge you to consider rescuing instead of buying a puppy. Not only will this give a rescue dog a chance at finding his forever home but it’ll also save any potential heartache caused by unwittingly buying a dog from a puppy farm.”

The warning comes as new figures reveal that last year (2018) saw the RSPCA receive 492 reports of concern relating to ‘puppy trade’ in Wales. That is in stark contrast to 2009, when just 105 reports were received.

Indeed, the 2018 figure is by far the largest on record – while year-on-year increases have been evident in Wales since 2012.

Over the last decade, 2,242 calls relating to ‘puppy trade’ in Wales have been received by the RSPCA – but more than half of these have come in the last three years alone.

Positively, however, the statistics follow a recent announcement from the Welsh Government as to their plans to ban the third party sale of puppies and kittens.

The move would mean anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten must either deal directly with the breeder or with a rehoming centre, such as RSPCA animal centres at Newport and Bryn-Y-Maen in Upper Colwyn Bay.

Plans were also announced by the Welsh Government to revist the current breeding regulations to improve welfare conditions at breeding establishments. New regulations came into force in Wales in April 2015 – and the RSPCA hopes reviewing these can further drive up welfare standards for breeding dogs and their puppies.

Claire Lawson, RSPCA Cymru’s assistant director for external relations, added: “These troubling figures about the scale of puppy trade reports in Wales highlight just how important Welsh Government action will be.

“Sadly, too often, we hear of early separation from mothers, unfamiliar environments and multiple journeys acting as a grim reality for puppies sold for big profits in the murky puppy trade.

“A ban on third party sales will – we hope – help bring to an end the hugely inappropriate conditions many of these young animals face, where profit is too readily put before their welfare.

“Plans to review dog breeding regulations is also great news. Tackling areas like genetic issues and a staff-to-dog ratio that better considers welfare could make these establishments so much better for dogs.

“These steps will also place fresh emphasis on important discussions about where people source their pets – with RSPCA and other rescue centres packed full of animals looking for a second chance of forever home happiness. So while an end to third party sales and even better dog breeding regulations will be great news for Wales, the RSPCA’s message will remain – adopt don’t shop.”

Top tips for families buying a puppy this summer

  • Do lots of research and make sure you can commit to a new dog before looking for your new family member;

  • Adopt don’t shop – visit your local centre to see if you can offer a rescue dog a home;

  • If buying a puppy, use The Puppy Contract – a guide to how to responsibly source a puppy which can help you find a happy, healthy dog;

  • Always visit more than once and the see the mum and puppies interacting together. Be wary of any breeder who won’t let you or puts undue pressure on you into buying;

  • If you’re concerned about something you see at a breeder then walk away, do not buy the puppy and report your concerns to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999, police on 101 or your local council.