The campaign – named as a ‘welcome step in the fight against illegal puppy dealers’ by the Edinburgh charity – aims to highlight the risks involved when purchasing from crooks such as early mortality, diseases and pricey vet bills.
The Buy a Puppy Safely website run by the Scottish government and the Scottish SPCA allows potential puppy owners to find information on what to look out for when buying a puppy and also allows them to take a test to determine if they are ‘puppy-ready’ by highlighting the warning signs.
Nicola Gunn, Director of Development and External Affairs at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home said: “The launch of the Buy a Puppy Safely campaign is a welcome step forward in the fight against illegal puppy dealers.
“The demand for puppies is at an all time high and reputable breeders are often unable to meet those demands; this gives illegal breeders the perfect opportunity to cash in.
“Many animals have been brought to the Home for rehoming due to owners underestimating the level of commitment required, and while we are able to rehome, it is important that this issue is tackled at the source.
The news comes after the Scottish SPCA reported that they have seen a ‘huge spike’ in low-welfare puppy dealers during lockdown with these bogus dealers increasingly using the pandemic as an excuse for the public not the meet puppies with their mothers.
The charity’s recent studies show that they have had to launch 78 investigations into reports of illegal puppy farming in October last year alone.
Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home is also advocating rescuing a dog where you can as many animals remain looking for a second chance in rescue centres.
a spokesperson said: “ The joy that a rescue dog brings is like no other.
"If rescuing isn’t possible for you, please visit the Buy a Puppy Safely website before purchasing a puppy to ensure you are welcoming a healthy and happy new friend into your life.”
Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment said: “During the current COVID-19 pandemic, regrettably we have seen an increase in illegal puppy sales and trading.
"We need to ensure that everyone understands the consequences of purchasing an illegally bred puppy and follow the important steps to buy their dog safely and responsibly.
“Now more than ever, we are urging people to do their research properly and to look for the signs that they are being tricked into buying an illegally bred puppy.
“There are key checks that can help ensure you are buying safely.
"These include meeting the puppy’s mother with her litter when restrictions allow, making enquiries about the breeder and ensuring all the correct paperwork is in place.
"It is also important to make sure that you understand the longer-term responsibility and commitment that comes with dog ownership and only take on a new puppy when the time is right.
“Remember if something doesn’t feel right, walk away and report your concerns to the Scottish SPCA.”