“/>The new campaign, supported by the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, warns of the dangers to look out for when buying a puppy in Lockdown (Scottish SPCA and Scottish Government).

Described by the Edinburgh charity as a “welcome step in the fight against illegal puppy traffickers,” the campaign aims to highlight the risks associated with buying crooks such as premature mortality, illness and expensive veterinary bills.

The Buy a Puppy Safely website, operated by the Scottish Government and the Scottish SPCA, can provide prospective puppy owners with information on what to look for when purchasing a puppy, as well as a test to see if they are “puppy ready” . by highlighting the warning signs.

Nicola Gunn, Director of Development and External Relations for 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 traffickers.

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“The demand for puppies is higher than ever and reputable breeders are often unable to meet these requirements. This gives illegal growers the perfect opportunity to make money.

“Many animals were brought home for rehabilitation because the owners underestimated the commitment required. While we are able to rehabilitate, it is important that this problem be addressed at the source.

The news comes after the Scottish SPCA reported that they saw a “big increase” in low-welfare puppy dealers during the lockdown, with these bogus dealers increasingly using the pandemic as an excuse for the public not to take the puppies with their mothers to meet.

The charity’s most recent studies show they had 78 investigations into reports of illegal puppy ownership in October last year alone.

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home also advocates rescuing a dog so that as many animals as possible can seek a second chance at rescue centers.

A spokesman said: “The joy that a rescue dog brings is like no other.

“If rescue is not an option for you, please visit the Buy a Puppy Safely website before purchasing a puppy to ensure you have a healthy and happy new friend in your life.”

Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, said: “Unfortunately, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in the illegal sale and trade of illegal puppies.

“We need to make sure everyone understands the ramifications of buying an illegally bred puppy and is following the important steps to buy their dog safely and responsibly.

“More than ever, we urge people to do their research properly and look for any signs that they are being led into buying an illegally bred puppy.

“There are important checks to make sure you shop safely.

“This includes meeting the puppy’s mother with her litter if restrictions allow, researching the breeder and making sure that all the correct records are in place.

“It’s also important to make sure you understand the longer term responsibility and commitment that comes with owning a dog and only picking up a new puppy when the time is right.

“Remember, if something doesn’t feel right, get away and report your concern to the Scottish SPCA.”

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