With 35% of those cases under investigation by legal experts, these reports serve to highlight just how much more work needs to be done to close the gaps in this trade and ensure a transparent and accountable market can take its place.
Particularly since the pandemic, puppy prices skyrocketed. Our tool found that puppies were sold at an average price of £2,000. To add some context, in ‘ordinary’ circumstances puppies can cost anything between £400 - £3,000. But with our findings it became clear that more than ever before, unscrupulous dealers were placing profit over suitable care to meet the massive demand for a new four-legged friend.
Does more money mean a healthier puppy?
In short, no. The puppies within the trade are often found to have been bred in miserable conditions. Small, sick and unvaccinated, they can be transported hundreds of miles across borders with forged or non-existent identification and vaccination documents.
This poses a great risk to human and animal health and brings a greater risk of dangerous zoonotic diseases like rabies and parvovirus (parvo) that can kill humans as well as dogs.
In fact, 11% of reports detailed how the puppies purchased ended up with parvovirus resulting in sickness and in some cases death.
These numbers are more than just statistics.
Each case represents a very real and heart-breaking story of how this trade emotionally and financially exhausted the families affected.
Some have kindly and bravely shared their stories too, as part of our Cute. Quick. Sick campaign, in the hope they can help another family avoid the potential pitfalls that can come with making an online puppy purchase.
A familiar place
Interestingly, our reports have shown that most of the reported adverts that offered these sick and deceased puppies came from websites familiar to us all, such as Facebook and Pets4Homes.
Sites like these, so common they are household names, easily appear reputable to the public.
However, there are surprisingly few checks required when listing animal adverts on these pages and because of this, unfortunately innocent animals and families are left to pay the price. This is why we are calling for full traceability.
Although there is still much to do to combat the illegal puppy trade, in just one year we have been able to learn so much more about how the trade is affecting families caught up in the heartbreak. We have also been able to direct our campaign towards educating puppy buyers before they make that risky purchase, and hopefully end the trade for good
We have always advocated for those looking to add a new furry friend to their family, to adopt rather than shop. But for those unable to, we strongly urge you to #ThinkBeforeYouClick.
As our work to end the illegal puppy trade continues, educated by our findings, we’re asking victims of the illegal puppy trade or those wishing to report a dodgy advert or seller to report it here.