The dangers of virtual puppy meetings
New research released by the Kennel Club sheds light on an “alarming lockdown legacy” for the puppy-buying public, as virtual meetings with pups and ‘click and drop’ purchases seem set to stay even after lockdown.
When Lucy’s Law came into effect in England last year – to be later introduced in Scotland and Wales as well – third-party puppy and kitten sales became illegal. This meant that anyone seeking to purchase a puppy would need to buy directly from the breeder rather than going through a pet shop or a dealer.
Meeting the puppy in person along with the rest of the litter and their mum was part of the process, but the 2020 lockdown made such meetings impossible before Lucy’s Law even came into effect. Puppy farmers and dealers were quick to use the Covid crisis as an excuse to incentivise virtual meetings and the ‘click and drop’ buying of puppies, passing it off as a matter of safety as they hid their dreadful breeding practices behind a screen.
“IF A BREEDER IS OFFERING TO DELIVER THE PUP TO YOUR HOUSE OR ASKING TO TAKE MONEY FROM YOU BEFORE YOU’VE EVEN SEEN THE PUP, ALARM BELLS SHOULD BE RINGING”
According to the Kennel Club, “a quarter of Brits admit that post-lockdown, it’s still ‘normal’ and ‘easier’ to meet a puppy virtually rather than in person” before purchase
Half the dog owners who ‘click and collected’ a puppy during the pandemic would be happy to do so again even now that restrictions are gone, the Kennel Club states; almost half of those who did not see the puppy with its mum would do buy a pup the same way in the future.
“It’s understandable that many of us may have developed some fairly harmless bad habits during multiple lockdowns, such as ordering one too many takeaways, getting up late or having multiple deliveries to our doors,” said Mark Beazley, Chief Executive of The Kennel Club. “But when it comes to puppy buying, these bad habits must be reversed.”
He added, “Whilst the message about always seeing a puppy with its mum, in its home environment, seemed to have finally got through and was reinforced in new laws in 2020, this research shows the pandemic’s alarming impact on the way people expect to buy a puppy, with many now seeing virtual puppy buying, ‘click and collect’ or pup deliveries as the norm – taking us backwards in terms of dog welfare and responsible puppy buying.
“Of course there is nothing wrong with seeing an advert for a puppy online, but we’re urging potential owners to ‘be puppywise’ and always then see the puppy interacting with its mum, in its home environment in real life, as lockdown restrictions are no longer in place.
“If a breeder is offering to deliver the pup to your house or asking to take money from you before you’ve even seen the pup, alarm bells should be ringing. Scammers, rogue breeders and cruel puppy traders can, and will, cash in on this dangerous virtual puppy buying world, with devastating consequences for dogs.”
Lockdown puppies are also less likely to have been properly trained and socialised, with many exhibiting behavioural issues and filling up UK rescues as ill-prepared owners struggle to cope.