622 per cent rise in 10 years in complaints from Cambridgeshire residents to RSPCA over puppy farms - but how many prosecutions have there been?
- Credit: Archant
Sixty five people from Cambridgeshire complained to the RSPCA about illicit puppy trade breeding and selling but there is yet to be a single prosecution
Indeed there has not been anyone in Cambridgeshire prosecuted successfully for such offences in the past 10 years despite the number of reports escalating from nine 10 years ago.
The RSPCA says that despite the 622 per cent growth in 10 years, dog owners or prospective dog owners should heed the charity's advice.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: "It is distressing that we are still seeing so many reports about puppy farms but part of this increase is probably due to people being savvier about what to look out for when getting a pet.
"We know there's a spike in people searching for puppies and buying dogs 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.
She said: ""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."
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Last year was the worst yet for complaints about the puppy trade to the RSPCA's 24-hour emergency hotline. The charity received 4,357 complaints last year - a 390% increase on 10 years ago (2008) when it took just 890 reports related to the underground industry.
The charity says there has a year-on-year increase in these reports over the past decade as more and more because unscrupulous breeders and dealers seek to cash in on a growing puppy market - where dogs of certain breeds can sell for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
Lisa said: "After the RSPCA campaigned for years, the Government last year finally introduced tougher licensing regulations around the selling of animals - including breeding and selling dogs - which we hope will help crackdown on this multi-million pound industry.
"The Government has also committed to a ban on the third-party sales of puppies and kittens which, alongside tougher licensing conditions will also help to tackle puppy farms and dodgy dealers.
"However, we also need to educate the public to ensure that they only buy puppies from responsible breeders who prioritise the health and welfare of their dogs over profit."
Included in their top tips for families planning to buy a puppy is do research the seller, visit the RSPCA centre to consider a rescue dog, and always visit a prospective more than once and to resist pressure selling.
The RSPCA also advises not to meet anyone trying to sell a puppy on a street corner - this should be an early warning signal.