The Scottish SPCA is appealing for puppy breeders to join its free scheme as part of the charities ongoing efforts to tackle the low welfare puppy trade.
The Assured Puppy Breeders Scheme was launched in November to create a network of responsible breeders in Scotland.
Those wanting to buy a puppy can view members through the ‘Say no to Puppy Dealers’ website with the knowledge their breeder has faced thorough checks by the Scottish SPCA, ensuring the highest welfare standards.
It is voluntary scheme and is available to any dog breeder in Scotland. The Scottish SPCA has developed a framework for responsible breeding and inspectors will assess applications and visit breeding premises annually to make sure high welfare standards are in place.
The scheme is free and the Society will not profit from it or from any pups sold by registered members.
Scotland’s animal welfare charity rescued 162 puppies from farms or dealers in 2019. 60 of those were seized at Cairnryan ferry port, 17 were saved from stoppages or targeted purchases and 85 were rescued from one puppy farm in the Moray area.
Sonja Shepherd, a member of the scheme, said: “I’ve been breeding Dalmatians since 2013. “All my breeding bitches have been kept as pets once they’ve had their litters. I absolutely adore them.
“The reason I joined the Assured Puppy Breeder Scheme is because I want to be known as a responsible breeder and to be producing healthy dogs, which is a priority for me.
“Anybody can breed a dog but people can come to me knowing the amount of care I’ve given my pups. Through the scheme, they will know that the puppies have been brought up in a safe environment with their mum and have had all their health checks.
“It also puts the minds of those buying a pup from me at rest. They’ve left with a puppy that’s been brought up with so much care. I’ve put in the time and effort to make sure that puppy is healthy and has had the best start in life.
“When they leave, they can relax and start their new life together with a happy, healthy pup with only adventures ahead of them.”
Gilly Mendes Ferreira, head of education, policy and research at the Scottish SPCA, said: “We’re really pleased with the response to our Assured Puppy Breeder Scheme.
“We would always support adopting over buying a dog. Our mantra remains ‘adopt don’t shop’ but we wanted to create a network of responsible breeders in Scotland who make the welfare of their dogs their primary concern.
“We will continue our work to combat the low welfare puppy trade through our special investigations unit and will continue to target the dealers who put profit above animal welfare.
“Many of the dogs that come from this environment will contract life-threatening diseases such as parvovirus or giardia.
“Through our work, the public are better equipped to recognise the signs of an unhealthy puppy from a low welfare farm.
“Unfortunately, it is public demand for ‘next-day delivery’ that is fuelling the multi-million-pound trade.
“We want to encourage breeders across the country to join the scheme as we know there are thousands of breeders who provide their dogs with the care they need.
“When breeders apply to the voluntary process, our inspectors will visit to ensure the highest welfare standards. These calls will happen on an annual basis.
“The public will also find peace of mind when buying puppies from responsible breeders, like Sonja, knowing their puppy is healthy and has come from a loving and caring environment where mum is present.”
The SIU team at the Scottish SPCA spearhead Operation Delphin, a multi-agency taskforce designed to bring illegal puppy traders to justice. It is supported by Dumfries & Galloway Council, ISPCA, RSPCA, USPCA, DSPCA, Stena Line, Police Scotland and others.
Disrupting the multimillion pound industry is one of the Society’s main priorities, and its #SayNoToPuppyDealers campaign has received widespread public and cross-party political support.