Educate yourself about illicit puppy trade pitfalls

One of the most pressing animal welfare issues in the UK—the illicit puppy trade—has been gathering much momentum.

There have been headlines in the media, specialist television programmes, and increased focus and commitment from the Government in the form of consultations on changing relevant laws to better protect dogs.

You may have caught TV shows such as BBC Panorama’s ‘Britain’s Puppy Dealers Exposed’ or BBC2’s ‘Choose the Right Puppy for You’. Panorama explains the tricks some unscrupulous dealers will adopt to fool you into parting with your hard-earned cash for a puppy farmed dog…only for the puppy to get ill or die later on.

There’s some truly shocking and heart-breaking undercover footage of fully licensed farms where conditions for breeding bitches are appalling.

There was a case study of a pet store explaining that all their puppies were completely traceable back to their breeder, yet when one owner tried, this proved impossible.

The documentary did well to highlight the shady goings on and dubious tactics that ultimately cause unwitting members of the public to support this callous industry.

On the other side of the spectrum is ‘Choose the Right Puppy for You’, which follows members of the public in their quest for the perfect puppy with a little help from dog behaviourist Louise Glazebrook.

The show teaches prospective buyers how to search for the correct puppy for their household and lifestyle, where to find it, what to ask breeders, and how to make a life-changing decision by thinking with one’s head…and not just one’s heart.

The fact that thousands of people across the country are likely to view primetime shows like this means that awareness of the issue will increase, which is most encouraging to us. The shows and public reactions to them further strengthen our commitment at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to work to end the cruel trade in puppies.

We’re calling for a ban on sales by a third-party (an entity other than the buyer or seller).

We believe that welfare is compromised by separating mother and puppies during a puppy’s early learning and development period, something that happens when people buy puppies not with their mother present and away from a home environment.

At IFAW we’ve been diligently working behind the scenes on a memorable checklist for people to consider when buying a new puppy.

By keeping in mind these key points, potential purchasers are more likely to know where their puppy has come from and less likely to fall victim to the illicit puppy trade.

So please remember – P.U.P.SParent, Underage, Papers, and Sickness! 

We’ll soon be launching an exciting and hard-hitting public awareness campaign – stay tuned for more info!

We believe that increased public awareness and reduced demand for cheaply produced puppies will improve animal welfare for all the dogs and puppies involved.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime