IRELAND'S LEADING dog welfare charity has urged members of the public not to gift puppies this Christmas as it received an 82% increase for rehoming requests this year when compared to 2020.
The charity received 2,155 requests for rehoming, with the most common issue for people seeking to give up their dog being behavioral issues.
The charity is urging people to think about the lifelong commitment that comes with owning a dog and to wait until after Christmas to decide to add one to the family.
It said it is particularly concerned with dogs being sourced from puppy farms, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic.
Ciara Byrne Head of Communications at Dogs Trust Ireland explained that "sadly, this is the most lucrative time of year for puppy farmers."
"We know genuine dog lovers don’t want to fuel this vile trade. It’s not just the puppy that you buy that’s affected, it’s the parents of the puppies that are left behind in often appalling conditions that suffer the most and that’s why we launched our End Puppy Farming campaign in November.
"We want to show that the public wants to see an end to the horrors these poor dogs endure daily, all in the name of profit."
Similarly, the Local Government Association (LGA) in the UK is asking the public to avoid illegal dog sellers this Christmas.
Latest figures show a total of 3.2 million households have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic. With Christmas a typically popular time for people to buy pets, the LGA says people should be cautious of who they are buying from, particularly when agreeing a sale through online marketplaces.
"If you are looking online on the likes of Facebook for pets this year, do your research and take time to ensure that you are purchasing a pet from a responsible breeder who is, for example, happy for you to see the puppy with its mum and has the correct licence to trade," said Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board.
"Buying pets from licensed sellers ensures the animals meet certain regulations and will have come from safe conditions. It also means that the seller can be traced if any issues arise after purchase."
A report from the USPCA which was published in October 2021 detailed the scale and ruthless nature of the region’s puppy industry, which has been feeding the demand for pups in Great Britain and Ireland.
The USPCA said in the report it had knowledge of more than 30 unlicensed dog breeding
enterprises operating across Northern Ireland, with a number of others known to be based in the Republic of Ireland.
The vast majority have been located in rural areas, including Newry, Craigavon, Fermanagh and Mid Ulster, with the illegal industry having an estimated value of £11.7 million.
It said it is common for pups that have been bred in such establishments to suffer from serious illnesses and/or genetic defects.
"This is the result of poor and unhygienic breeding practices. Many of these unfortunate animals will become so sick from parvovirus or other infections that they will die before they are sold (or shortly after purchase)."
It also noted that these dogs "can develop severe psychological damage, and in some cases, even when rescued, never fully recover."
They enter Great Britain through from Ireland via a number of ferry ports, with "little or no care" given to protect the dogs while being transported in vehicles.
"At the end of this supply chain are often heartbroken owners who have bought a cute little puppy, only to discover it has underlying health issues which often lead to death.
"This human tragedy is largely hidden from us in Northern Ireland as the main focus for these cruel criminals is the lucrative GB market."
Dogs Trust Ireland has an End Puppy Farming campaign, about which more information can be found on DogsTrust.ie/EndPuppyFarming