An eight-week-old Labrador cross puppy has found herself in rescue after being bought as a Christmas gift and unwanted by the recipient. Unwell and unwanted, she was handed into a London animal rescue centre, where she has been nursed back to health.

The black Labrador cross, named Madison by staff at The Mayhew Animal Home had been sold from an online site to a young man who was looking to purchase a puppy for a family member. But when the young man arranged to see Madison at a flat in Amersham, the door was answered by two men who wanted £295 in cash up-front. The puppy’s mother was not present, she had no other siblings around her at the time, and she was terrified and hiding behind the sofa. The buyer was then taken to an ATM machine by the two men and the puppy was handed over with documentation when they received the money.

These are all key signs that these men were puppy farmers. 

Unfortunately after buying Madison, it turned out that the family member didn’t want a puppy and the poor little pooch was later brought into The Mayhew. On closer investigation, The Mayhew discovered the microchip and health papers that were given to the buyer by the sellers were false.

The Mayhew’s Head of Animal Welfare, Gillian Notton, said: “There are already so many unwanted animals in rescue centres like ours that have come from people who buy pets on a whim, especially around Christmas time, without taking into consideration the responsibilities and needs of the pet. Unfortunately, many people don’t realise that bringing a new animal into their home takes a huge amount of preparation, perseverance and patience.”

“Absolutely anyone over the age of 16 can walk into a pet shop or buy any animal they want online. There are no checks on the reliability and ability of buyers to look after pets and buyers won’t be aware of the pet’s background. We see a lot of unwanted dogs as they are bred purely to be sold for profit or used as a breeding machine. It is completely irresponsible to buy a puppy online, from pet shops or from illegal breeders, but unfortunately, we see this happen far too often. Purchasing pets in this way fuels the already huge problem of illegal breeding and unwanted animals and animal charities like ours are left to pick up the pieces.”

The Mayhew’s Head Vet, Dr Ursula Goetz MRCVS, GP Cert (SAS) CVO, said: “Unfortunately we see a lot of puppies like Madison, who have been sold online and from illegal breeders, and with little care taken over their welfare. Many of these puppies are too young to have been removed from their mothers and haven’t been vaccinated or de-wormed.”

Things to consider before bringing a dog into your home

1. Can you properly care for them?

The Animal Welfare Act places a duty of care on people to ensure they provide the five welfare needs of their animal. When buying a pet, you need to know how to look after the pet correctly ensuring that you are able to provide these five needs, including providing a suitable environment, need for a suitable diet, need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, need to be housed with or apart from other animals, need to be protected from pain, injury, disease, and suffering. Buying from a retailer is less likely to ensure that the buyer or new owner is going to be able to provide these needs.

2. Can you afford the costs (known and unexpected) associated with owning a pet?

There are already so many unwanted animals in rescue centres across the country that have been victims of people that buy pets on a whim, especially around Christmas time. Many animals have been given up because of health issues they have when they were first sold and the owner realises they can no longer cope or afford treatment. For example, puppy farming conditions, where many puppies and their parents are born into and living in are horrendous and can cause such suffering. Those that buy from these retailers could be unknowingly supporting these farms by continuously buying and selling on these animals.

3. Can you trust where they came from?

Puppy farming is a huge industry and thousands of dogs suffer as a result of it. The only way puppy farmers will stop doing what they do is if people stop buying from them – learn how to spot the signs.

So know your puppy’s source. From animal rescues, this is simple as you can research them and they will provide any history they know of for the dog.

But if you do decide to get a puppy from a breeder, try to get recommendations from owners and breed clubs about reputable breeders.

You should always make sure you see the puppy with its mum and litter, checking that they really are the puppies’ family. Responsible breeders should be happy to give you a full medical history of the animal. Responsible owners and breeders would de-worm their puppy at least once and have them vaccinated before selling them.

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