The RSPCA is warning residents in South Holland not to buy sick puppies during the festive holiday period, after calls to the charity about puppy farms and trafficking rose by a staggering 21 per cent in less than a year.
More than 2,034 calls about puppy farms and trafficking were received by the RSPCA from the start of 2013 up to the end of November. This compares to 1,678 in the whole of 2012.
Lincolnshire has been placed seventh equal with Cheshire in the top ten regions for receiving 64 calls each.
The shocking rise follows a number of RSPCA investigations this year into allegations of sick puppies being sold in England and Wales after being imported from across Europe.
Calls received from Lincolnshire mainly cover concerns about puppy farms. A spokesman from the RSPCA said: “They are usually from people concerned about breeders in rural areas.”
Chief insp Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA’s special operation unit, said: “The number of calls we’ve received this year about puppy farms and puppy trafficking is truly shocking.
“We have investigated claims of puppies being bred or kept in poor conditions, before being sold to generate huge profit, for many years.
“However, the percentage rise in the calls we received since January is extremely worrying. People are making thousands of pounds off the back of breeding and importing sick puppies. There are no two ways about it – it is organised animal crime.”
Annie Farthers, of Vetsavers, breeds Oakajem Chihuahas, but never sells a pup over the holiday period.
She said: “Puppies and excited children are never a good mix.
“It’s hard to resist a pup, but they are a huge commitment and if they get sick, vet bills can be costly. Too many pups bought at Christmas end up at a rescue centre because their new owners can’t afford them.
“At the vets we always advise people take someone with them and to look at several litters before committing to buying a pup. For a healthy pup check if it has bright eyes and a wet nose, and is happy and friendly.”