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Going Undercover to Bring Down the Puppy Farmers

Undercover RSPCA Special Operations Unit inspector lifts the lid on what it is like to expose callous puppy dealers.

“As a Special Operations Unit Inspector investigating the puppy trade comes as quite a challenge. The activity of selling puppies in itself is not illegal yet the volume of suffering puppies can be staggering.

The first thing that becomes very apparent with some of the cases I’ve investigated is that these poor puppies are nothing but a commodity to the dealers.

“The members of the public buying the dogs are nothing but a target, a cash cow, a means to an end. These dealers have forgotten you and your puppy before you walk out the door. Your story and the health of your puppy means nothing to them. Please do not be fooled into thinking it does.

“Walking into the dealer’s premises has at times been quite impressive. The level of organisation required to achieve high turnover puppy sales is considerable. We have found large numbers of mobile phones with initials of dog breeds on the back. This system is so the dealers knows when the YT phone rings they need to talk about Yorkshire Terriers or the POM phone rings they talk about Pomeranians.

“It takes a degree of skill to keep pulling the wool over buyers eyes all day everyday. From answering the phones when buyers respond to the fluffy adverts to arranging the sales with enough time allowed for each person to believe they have had a genuine experience and not bump into the next buyer on their way out.

“The stories as to why the bitch can’t be viewed are plausible. The ‘pedigree’ papers are high quality glossy brochures with professionally printed embossed certificates.

“To see such high volumes of very young puppies in the dealers kennels is just heartbreaking. All each puppy wants is to be cuddled, loved and feel safe like it did before being prematurely wrenched away from it’s mother. If only they could tell you of the traumatic journey they have already made in their short lives.

“The cheapest puppies that make the highest profits come from Eastern Europe and Ireland. The disease risk associated with importing these puppies is very high. Not only to the dogs themselves but to the public of the UK. For example some of these puppies are brought in from Rabies endemic countries. Many carry zoonotic diseases such as Campylobacter and Giardia. Also skin conditions such mange and ringworm.

“It feels good as an SOU Inspector to know that the RSPCA will now care for and do our very best to find each one a loving new home, but I can’t help but wish there wasn’t such a demand for these puppies in the first place.

“It’s a bitter pill for an RSPCA inspector to swallow to know that our animal centres are bursting at the seams with unwanted dogs yet these organised criminals are literally bringing these puppies in by the bucket load and making thousands of pounds a week exploiting them and the British public.

When taking witness statements from the buyers it is obvious that these puppies very quickly become more than just a pet, they became a member of their family.

“When the puppy becomes ill or dies the buyers are left devastated. One of the most upsetting stories I heard was one of a five-year-old little boy finding his beloved first pet dying in a pool of its own blood only 24 hours after purchase. This little boy’s puppy died at the vets and he suffered night terrors as a result.

“Not only have the buyers been conned out of hundreds of pounds when buying the puppy but they are often left with huge vets bills to pay, whether the puppy survives or not.

“These buyers are not foolish. They are ordinary hard working people who genuinely wanted to give a dog a good home.

“The well written adverts, the fake documentation and the façade of authenticity that these dealers create leads the buyers to believe they are purchasing a well breed, pedigree puppy from a loving UK home. They couldn’t be more wrong.”

This RSPCA inspector’s identity has been concealed for their own security.

The RSPCA is now launching the #ScrapThePuppyTrade campaign, calling on the UK government to introduce the ‘Puppy Dealers Act’ in England to stop the unscrupulous trade in puppies. The charity believes huge numbers of sick, under-age and dying puppies – sold to unsuspecting buyers for huge profits, and most likely costing the economy huge sums in untaxed income – are being trafficked into the UK each year.

Please visit www.rspca.org.uk/scrapthepuppytrade to sign the petition and show your support.

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