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Buying a dog at Christmas

15 December 2016

A dog’s for life, not just for Christmas

Medway Council has teamed up with the RSPCA to offer advice to people considering buying a dog this Christmas.

The council’s stray dog service, which regularly takes in dogs throughout the year, is supporting the RSPCA’s advice of urging people to consider the long-term commitment required to properly care for an animal and is reminding people to be cautious of where they buy a dog from.

This year the council’s Trading Standards team launched an initiative to tackle illegal dog importation, advising people of the implications of buying a dog brought into the UK illegally and urging dog owners and vets to report the issue. Sometimes dogs that have been brought into the UK have fake documentation and have not been vaccinated against rabies, or are too young to have had their jabs. In the lead up to Christmas prospective dog owners are urged to get the animal from a reputable breeder.

Advice on buying a puppy is available from many sources, such as the RSPCA Puppy Contract. The RSPCA has a number of rescue centres for people who are in a position to give an animal a loving home. However, the charity does not advise giving a pet as a present, unless it is known that the person receiving the pet is willing to take on the responsibility, can afford to do so and can give them everything they need to be happy and healthy throughout their life.

Tips on buying a dog

If you are considering buying a dog, here are the top tips:

  • Purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder.
  • Ask to see the puppy with its mother and the rest of the litter. Be suspicious if the seller won’t comply with this request.
  • If the seller lives, or the puppy was born, outside of the UK the puppy must have a passport or vet certificate. The documentation must confirm that the puppy was vaccinated against rabies at the correct age and document the veterinary practice where this was carried out. If in doubt, contact a vet.
  • Never allow the puppy to be delivered to your home address or meet the seller to collect the puppy (for example, in a car park).
  • Never pay for the puppy in advance.

Buying an illegally imported dog can be costly

Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder overseeing Trading Standards said: “We are continuing to raise awareness of the issue as many people do not realise that buying an illegally imported dog can prove to be costly. Dogs that have been brought into the country illegally will need to be quarantined while they are fully vaccinated to help prevent the spread of diseases and to keep the animal healthy. It is not uncommon for a dog to be given as a Christmas gift so I would ask people to carefully research breeders.”

Cllr Rupert Turpin, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder in charge of community wardens, said: “Our wardens recovered 650 stray dogs in Medway last year, the majority being returned to their owners along with advice on how to prevent this distressing occurrence, which can be very dangerous for the dog. Microchipping is now a legal requirement and it helps make the return of a stray dog easier and cheaper for the owner, as kennel fees are usually avoided and the situation is more quickly resolved. Reporting a stray is easy via our website or by phoning 01634 333333, and our very successful Facebook Page “Medway Council Stray Dog Service” will contain a picture of a stray dog within hours of its discovery, if not sooner."

Microchip your dog

The RSPCA is also encouraging dog owners to ensure their pet is microchipped. A spokesperson said: “We believe compulsory microchipping, if implemented effectively, could lead to significant benefits to dog owners and their pets - for example reuniting them more quickly if they become lost or stray.

“A critical issue will be ensuring people keep their contact details and information up-to-date on the databases, for example if they change address, phone number etc. This has been a real challenge in the past.”