Defra launches campaign to stop families getting petfished this Christmas

Defra has started a campaign to prevent families from being “fished” for Christmas.

The campaign aims to help discourage people from buying animals with a low welfare background.

Puppies and kittens bred under socially deprived conditions can have severe health problems and behavioral problems, high veterinary bills and, in the worst case, death of the animal.

A recent survey of UK cat and dog owners found that over a quarter (27 percent) have come across a seller or ad making them suspicious of the pet’s welfare when buying their last cat or dog.

The research also revealed:

  • Less than half (43 percent) of UK dog or cat owners visited the seller in person at their pet’s home to inquire about their recent pet purchases.

  • More than 1 in 10 (12 percent) pet buyers did no research at all before visiting their puppy or kitten for the first time.

  • Less than a third (31 percent) of dog and cat owners are very sure they could spot the signs of a puppy or kitten seller with low welfare.

A survey of members of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) found that nearly two-thirds (68 percent) of pet owners were unaware that their pet’s clinical and behavioral signs may have been linked to poor animal husbandry practices will.

What do the experts say?

Christine Middlemiss, Chief Veterinary Officer, said, “Christmas can be a difficult time to get a pet into a new home, and it is vital that people research not only the breed of animal they want, but the person who will be using it sold to them.

“Puppies and kittens raised in poor social conditions can often be separated from their mother prematurely, which can lead to serious health and behavioral problems, heartache and high veterinary bills for their new family. We urge people to remain vigilant and always check out animal dealers thoroughly before contacting us. “

Bill Lambert, Kennel Club Health and Welfare Specialist, said, “Buying a puppy is a big decision and all prospective owners should do the right research and have all the facts available so they can make an informed decision.

“We know that the demand for puppies has increased during the pandemic. The current mismatch between supply and demand can lead to more people being deceived by rogue breeders and scammers, and inadvertently fueling socially disadvantaged breeders. “

What should you watch out for?

Here are the top warnings to be aware of when researching sellers:

  • S. eller – Enter the seller’s name and details, including phone number, into a search engine – avoid those with multiple ads.

  • P. arent – make sure you see puppies and kittens in their home with their mom.

  • Ö Enough – Check to see that puppies and kittens are at least 8 weeks old before you take them home.

  • T Treatment – Ask to review the animal’s health records and avoid vendors who cannot provide them.

Defra’s Petfished campaign launched a film today (Nov 18th) warning the public of the dangers of buying puppies or kittens from low welfare breeding practices during the Christmas season. For more information on what to do before contacting a seller and what to ask when contacting, see or search for “Keep Your Pet Safe”.

What are the consequences of buying a pet from socially disadvantaged backgrounds?

Dr. Julian Hoad, Clinical Director at Crossways Veterinary Group, recalls four times over the past year that a puppy or kitten brought to his veterinary office was linked to low welfare breeding practices and did not survive.

On two recent occasions, puppies had brought him with the deadly parvovirus. The dishonest seller had lied about the puppies’ vaccination status and they had to be euthanized. Commenting on the heartbreaking incidents, Julian said, “Especially around Christmas, people really want to buy a puppy on the Kennel Club website.

“However, since demand for puppies has exceeded supply, they may be looking for small online ads that instead sell pets, which are often raised under poor welfare conditions. The buyer buys the puppy without much research, then brings it to our practice because it is sick and often the puppy or kitten has to be euthanized. It’s tragic.

“What people don’t know when buying or researching pets is that veterinarians often provide practical advice before buying an animal, including advice on whether they can take the animal for long-term welfare. In this way, the public can contact a veterinarian and find out about the online resources available before buying an animal. “


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