Going cyber to smash illegal trade in puppies

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Animal group Four Paws is launching a new online-platform in the battle against the illegal puppy trade.

The trade in pedigree puppies is booming: thousands of them are being offered for sale under false pretences via the internet, in pet shops and in public spaces. Bred in poor conditions in so-called ‘puppy mills’ found across Eastern Europe and Ireland, the puppies suffer from severe distress. They are often separated from their mothers at the young age of 3 to 4 weeks, to be transported for sale across Europe with fake documents.

When they arrive at their destinations, many puppies are already afflicted by fatal diseases. Many of them will not survive the first weeks of their life. This loss is budgeted by the traders in advance. In contrast, the new, unsuspecting owners face high veterinary costs and despite intensive care, many animals die or have to be put down.

The international animal welfare organisation Four Paws has launched a new online platform in order to raise awareness about illegal puppy trade and to offer a contact point for concerned members of the public.

Besides providing useful information on the issue, the website offers a tool for duped buyers who wish to share their experience.

“Our main goal is to reduce the demand for cheap pedigree puppies from dubious sources and to stop the activity of illegal traders,” says Birgitt Thiesmann, companion animal expert at Four Paws.

“With the help of concerned dog buyers we wish to gather more research, expose traders and support our demands for changes to the law.”

Four Paws demands an EU-wide, legally binding regulation for the registration, vaccination and identification of all dogs by microchip. The website will initially be launched in the UK, Germany and Austria. Thiesmann says: “In special cases we will contact the concerned parties, in order to get more information regarding the case. However because we cannot follow up on every case, we are asking concerned dog owners to collect all the necessary information and hand it in at their local responsible authority”.

Visitors to the website will find a checklist, with useful tips on what to consider when buying a dog . Four Paws expert Birgitt Thiesmann says: “For this reason a special offer should never be a factor when buying a dog.” In general, according to Four Paws, bringing a dog into your life must be well considered and prepared for, and the first path should always lead to a dog shelter. Many big and small dogs – as well as pedigrees– are waiting for a loving home.

You can find more detailed information about Four Paws’ initiative on responsible dog ownership in the EU on www.carodog.eu.