8th March 2022

Dorset takes on illegal puppy sales

Dorset Council has revamped its website to tackle the illicit trade in puppies by unlicensed sellers.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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If we can work together to grow understanding of what to look for when buying a puppy then we can work to banish any potential harm that comes to our innocent pets

Dorset Council is tackling the sale of illegal puppies in the county by asking people to stop and think before handing money over to unlicensed breeders.

Trading Standards and Environmental Health Teams across Dorset are working together to raise awareness of the multi-million-pound puppy breeding trade that causes suffering to animals and misleads consumers into financial loss and emotional turmoil.

The rise in home working during the COVID-19 pandemic has made dog ownership easier and more attractive for many, resulting in a significant increase in both the costs of puppies and the numbers being sold. But the lucrative market means that puppies are being sold by unlicensed breeders, often without any consideration for the health and welfare needs of the animal.

Councillor Laura Miller, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Customer and Community Services, said: “We hope that residents will support our efforts to make a change in the illegal dog breeding market. Many families across Dorset have dogs, including myself, and the thought of them being mistreated is awful.

“If we can work together to grow understanding of what to look for when buying a puppy then we can work to banish any potential harm that comes to our innocent pets.”

An unlicensed puppy breeder is classified as someone who does not have a dog breeding licence but who earns more than £1,000 per year from selling puppies.

Dorset Council has updated its website facilities to allow users to check whether breeders are licensed and to report unlicensed breeders. It also offers tips on what to look for when buying a puppy, including:

  • No puppy should be sold under the age of eight weeks and the puppy should be microchipped
  • Always see the puppy with its mother
  • Never buy/collect a puppy from service stations, pubs, car parks or any public area; the puppy should be in the home of the breeder
  • If your puppy is advertised with a ‘passport’ this could mean it’s been imported
  • Check whether your puppy has been vaccinated and has been socialised before you take it home
  • Buying from an unlicensed breeder could mean that your puppy may not have the right medical records and could have hereditary health issues which could lead to heavy vet bills in the future

Learn more about spotting the signs of a deceitful pet seller here and find out more about best practice when buying a puppy here.

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