The Scottish SPCA has launched the #KeepMeOffYourXmasList campaign to stop people and animals suffering as a result of buying puppies from low-welfare breeders.
From January 1 to October 31 this year, 1059 calls were made to the animal helpline regarding low-welfare puppy breeding.
This is compared to 702 calls in 2020, which represents a 34% increase in just a year.
Fifty-six puppies have been seized so far this year by the charity’s special investigations unit, and 150 puppies were saved from the low-welfare industry in 2020.
The campaign launches as the Scottish SPCA rescued four cockapoo puppies on October 29.
They were found dumped in a bush at the side of the road in the Aberdeen area.
Frontline inspectors and special investigations unit worked together to target the large scale, prolific puppy dealers from Ireland operating in Scotland, particularly in Aberdeen and the surrounding areas.
They were tipped off on the location of the low-welfare dealers, and as a result of the raid, the breeders fled and dumped the four cockapoos to evade being caught.
The rescued puppies have tested positive for giardia and are currently undergoing further tests for other contagious and potentially life-threatening diseases.
Such diseases are preventable with the correct vaccinations, but can be common in pups raised in the low-welfare trade due to the poor conditions they are kept in.
The mum is often unable to provide the pups with essential nutrients to fight disease or build up their immune system as she may be weak from overbreeding or they may have been taken from her prematurely.
The pooches are now receiving the care and treatment they need at one of the SPCA’s rescue and rehoming centre, and they are not currently available for rehoming.
A special investigations unit inspector said: “This is a fantastic result.
“We successfully targeted prolific dealers in the Aberdeen area who we know have sold puppies who have sadly passed away.
“We are preparing a report for the Procurator Fiscal and we cannot provide any further details about this case at this time.
“These Irish gangs are dominating the low-welfare puppy industry in Scotland.
“Under no circumstances should someone meet a breeder to purchase a puppy or allow a pup to be dropped off.
“Do not accept any excuse, no matter how plausible it seems.
“These people are master manipulators and will try anything to make you believe they are legitimate and responsible breeders.
“Bad puppy dealers are still using the pandemic restrictions to trick the public.
“We are urging the public to be vigilant when buying a puppy and not to accept any excuse not to see the puppy with mum.
“We would always advise adopting over buying a pet but those with their hearts set on buying a puppy should do their research and make sure they are buying from a responsible breeder.
“Although you may have to wait slightly longer, you will be getting a happy and healthy dog.
“We would advise that members of the public visit the SPCA’s #KeepMeOffYourXmasList webpage to find out how to spot a low-welfare breeder.
“Puppies are not presents and buying one should not be decided on a whim.
“The only reason that these dealers are able to operate is because of the demand for puppies.
“Puppies and their parents are suffering and dying due to this industry.
“We now need the public to act responsibly and not contribute to this appalling trade.
“Public demand will fuel this trade and as long as it does, bad dealers will find any means to operate.”
Any concerns over the low-welfare puppy trade should be reported to the SPCA’s confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.