People thinking about buying a dog as a last minute Christmas gift are being urged to buy from a reputable breeder or rescue centre rather than responding to posts on social media or newspaper adverts.
Research from The Kennel Club has revealed a high number of puppies or dogs available on social media have come from puppy farms and/or unlicensed breeders and that almost one in five bought via the internet die before they are six months old.
Those that do survive are also more likely to develop serious illness or behavioural problems which could lead to expensive vet bills and the possibility of the dog being abandoned as the owners can no longer cope.
In the last year, East Riding of Yorkshire Council's licensing team have investigated eight allegations of unlicensed breeders operating in the area and officers are asking potential owners to think carefully before buying a dog.
People looking to buy a dog from a breeder should remember the following:
• good breeders will always give the buyer a chance to see the puppies in the litter with their mother
• check the seller's licence to ensure the breeder is registered or contact the relevant breed societies
• make sure the puppy or dog comes with the right documentation, such as Kennel Club registration and pedigree papers, a vaccination card as well as advice on when further vaccinations are due
• make sure you are given written advice on feeding, worming and flea treatments as well as any information on diets.
Tina Holtby, interim public protection group manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: "A puppy or a dog can be a great addition to any home but I would really urge people to think carefully and do their research before buying one.
"Caution should be taken when thinking about buying a dog online or via a newspaper advert whilst people selling dogs from vans in places like car parks, markets or backstreets should be avoided at all costs.
"One option for people to consider is to visit their local rescue centre and give a home to a dog that is looking for a new owner.
"If people do want a puppy then they need to make sure they are buying from a reputable breeder.
"Good breeders do not sell puppies from the back of a van in car parks at markets and dogs bought from reputable breeders are unlikely to develop health or behavioural issues."
A list of licensed breeders in the East Riding can be found on the council's website – www.eastriding.gov.uk.
There are a number of rescue centres across the East Riding for people who are interested in re-homing a dog.
• RSPCA – www.rscpa.org
• The Dogs' Trust – www.dogstrust.org
• Hull Animal Welfare Trust – www.hullanimalwelfare.co.uk
General information can also be found at The Kennel Club's website – www.kennelclub.org.uk
Anyone with information about individuals who are breeding dogs as a business and are unlicensed should email the council's licensing team – firstname.lastname@example.org