The RSPCA is urging families to consider adopting a dog instead of buying a puppy this summer to help fight the growing scourge of puppy farms in Yorkshire.
Last year was the worst year yet for reports of puppy farms, with the charity saying unscrupulous breeders and dealers are trying to make money from a market where puppies of certain breeds can sell for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
Puppy farm complaints have risen 483% across Yorkshire in a decade, the RSPCA said, adding the increase was "shocking -- but, sadly, not surprising”.
In 2008, there were 77 reports to the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency hotline across the region. This rose to 449 in 2018.
Designer breeds such as pugs and French bulldogs are particularly at risk, along with fashionable crossbreeds such as cockerpoos.
The RSPCA said part of the reason for the increase in people reporting puppy farms was “people being more savvy about what to look out for when getting a pet”, praising those who reported inhumane breeders.
Since 2012, when the RSPCA started recording, more than 2,000 dogs have been rescued from puppy farms across England.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “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.
“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.”
The penalty for puppy farming is just six months in prison under the Animal Welfare Act.
This is something the government has pledged to tackle, with plans to increase the maximum sentence to five years.