Essex Trading Standards has issued these top tips to people thinking of buying puppies to make sure their pet is healthy, legal and does not pose a risk to their family.
Find out about the puppy's background
Get as much information as possible about where the puppy has come from. Beware if the breeder is from outside the UK. There are an increasing number of dogs being imported into the UK illegally without the required paperwork and essential vaccinations or traders are stating that they are breeding the puppies but in fact are not.
Never buy a puppy because it looks cute or you feel sorry for it, or you could end up with substantial veterinary bills and help to perpetuate this trade.
Has the puppy been vaccinated?
Puppies should have received their first vaccinations before they leave their mother so always ask to see the vaccination card. Please note that vaccination cards are easy to fake.
If the veterinary surgeon's contact details are not visible, or it is an address from outside the UK, the card may be false. If you buy an imported puppy it must have a pet passport or vet’s certificate confirming:
- it's micro chipped
- it's fully vaccinated against rabies and treated for worms
- it was over the age of 3 months and 21 days when it was imported
Always see a puppy with its mother
It's best to buy from a local breeder where it's possible to see a puppy with its mother in the place where the puppy was bred. Ask to see the father too, or at least a photograph of him. If the breeder cannot show the mother or father, buyers should be suspicious and walk away.
Pedigree certificates are not a guarantee
Pedigree certificates are not a guarantee for the condition of a puppy, and may not even mean the dog is pure-bred. If you must have a pedigree puppy, ask for details of recommended breeders from the official breed club. Contact the Kennel Club for details of the Accredited Breeder Scheme.
Never sign anything without checking it first
If a puppy seller asks you to sign any paper work, make sure you read it thoroughly first. You may be signing something that makes it legally very hard to challenge if you are unhappy with the puppy you have been sold.
Anyone with concerns about a new puppy should contact their local vet for advice and treatment.
Anyone with information about illegally imported puppies should contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service 03454 04 05 06 who can provide advice and pass details on to Trading Standards.