USPCA Says Dogs Are Not Just For Christmas

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The USPCA is calling on all dog lovers not to be taken in by unscrupulous dog breeders at Christmas.

Christmas can be such a wonderful time of year as we take a step back to relax and connect with our family and friends. Making it all the more magical, very often there can be the temptation to add a furry friend to the family as a Christmas gift.

Whilst this gesture may have all the right intentions the USPCA is asking the public to be mindful that pets are not objects to be exchanged under the Christmas tree or given to someone as a surprise.

Every animal has its own set of intricate needs and they deserve a home that has given extensive consideration to this. From feeding, grooming and exercising, to healthcare requirements and giving them the love and attention they rightly deserve – there are many areas needing thorough discussion.

A puppy is not just for Christmas says the USPCA.

Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown is pleased to see the latest multi-agency campaign, spearheaded by Newry, Mourne and Down Council and the PSNI along with other agencies, around how to approach purchasing a new puppy.

Cllr Brown said: “Last month I brought a motion raising my concerns about the high levels of dog euthanasia in the district and the need for Council to be more proactive in tackling illegal and unethical puppy farming in the area.

“As such, I am thrilled to see Council take action on this serious issue, especially in the run-up to Christmas.”

“Unfortunately, illegal puppy breeding is common across the District and beyond. Sadly, we are seeing more people being duped into purchasing a dog that is illegally bred by someone who does not have the puppy’s best interests in mind.

“This is leading to animals becoming extremely unhealthy due to the conditions they are kept in and the treatment they receive from a young age.”

Cllr Brown added:“As a dog lover and owner, I know what a brilliant addition a four-legged friend makes. However, if you are considering purchasing a new pet this Christmas, I’d urge you to review the guidance set out in the ‘Paws for Thought’ campaign.

Cllr Patrick Brown with his dog Benny.

“It is also important to reflect on the responsibilities involved with owning a dog; this is a long-term commitment, and we want to avoid seeing a rise in the number of dogs requiring rehoming next year.”

USPCA Chief Executive, Brendan Mullan, said: “Unfortunately, year on year, we see a similar pattern in demand for puppies and other animals during the festive season. We understand companion animals can greatly enrich our lives but please do your homework and research the ins and outs of them beforehand. 

“It is completely unacceptable to take in a pet on an impulse – you need to ensure that the animal will receive the same care and attention as it did on day one. They love their owners unconditionally and you have a duty to reciprocate that,” added Brendan.

The USPCA is also warning the public to be vigilant against the horrors of the cruel puppy trade this Christmas and to not engage with illegal breeders.

Brendan said: “Since March there has been unprecedented demand for puppies as people found they had much more time on their hands. Unfortunately, this not only underpins our concerns around the public’s understanding of puppies being a lifetime decision, but has also fed into the trade of unregistered illegal puppy farmers and dog dealers.

“They are capitalising on this demand and are exploiting the public with puppies reared in terrible conditions, with their only interest being the lining of their pockets.

“We are gravely disturbed at the conditions in which many of these dogs are bred. From overbred bitches, to cramped and disease ridden enclosures, there is a blatant disregard for animal welfare. We need the public to avoid these individuals at all costs,” said Brendan.

Very often legitimate breeders will closely assess your suitability to the puppy’s requirements. The USPCA has also highlighted how illegal breeders are taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to avoid thorough checks of the pups and the environment they were reared in.

To protect yourself against the callous actions of such individuals, consider the following:

  • Rehoming a pet from the USPCA or local animal rescue instead
  • Always seeing a puppy with its mother and litter
  • Not buying a pet from a car boot, the back of a van or a market stall
  • Never agreeing to the suggestion of a ‘helpful’ meeting point
  • Asking if the person is a registered commercial breeder, if so record the number from the Local Authority Registration document
  • Enquiring about the pup’s health status including worming and parasites, inoculations etc. Get verifiable veterinary confirmation
  • Obtaining a proper receipt