An animal charity has urged prospective dog owners not to buy from illegal puppy traders ahead of Christmas.
With the festive season fast approaching, and puppies traditionally seen as a cute present for young children and families, the Scottish SPCA is asking folk to avoid the traders who put “profit ahead of animal welfare”.
SSPCA Chief Executive Kirsteen Campbell said that the illicit business is a “multimillion pound industry” and the charity has a dedicated taskforce named Operation Delphin working to crack down on the illegal sales.
Speaking following a taskforce meeting she warned those looking to buy a dog for Christmas to look out for the tell-tale signs.
She said: “Puppies are brought illegally to Scotland from Ireland and they are often incredibly ill, have been removed from their mothers too young, and kept in cramped and dirty conditions.
“With Christmas round the corner we are all concerned about a rising demand for puppies. We will always encourage people to rescue a pet where possible, but when considering buying a puppy we urge the public to do so responsibly.
“Please only go to reputable breeders – a list of which is available from the Kennel Club. You should always view the mother of the pups, and if possible both parents.
“If you do purchase a puppy and they start to show any signs of ill health seek veterinary attention immediately.”
The Tele previously reported that on the issue in Tayside, with an undercover SSPCA officer saying it was “widespread” in the area.
Kirsteen added: “The Scottish SPCA is committed to bettering the welfare of dogs and puppies across Scotland and with Operation Delphin and the support of our partners our reach is far greater, and therefore more effective.
“We suffer the devastating effects of the puppy trade all year round at our animal rescue and rehoming centres. We truly believe that public awareness is crucial to combating this horrific trade.”
Operation Delphin is a joint taskforce made up of the SPCAs from across Britain and is supported by HMRC, Police Scotland’s Port Unit and Stena Line.
Anyone concerned about the welfare of an animal should contact the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.