Think twice about a Christmas puppy, warns PSNI
A campaign has been launched to crack down on illegal puppy farming in Northern Ireland.
The Paws for Thought campaign is a multi-agency initiative which aims to raise awareness around illegally-bred dogs.
It is being launched in a bid to stop potentially increased demand coming up to Christmas.
Recent raids by the PSNI saw the seizure of 31 dogs in Coalisland, Co Tyrone.
PSNI inspector Joanne Gibson said people often start their search for a new puppy online and that buyers are more likely than they think to buy an illegally-bred puppy.
She said not to be fooled into thinking you are able to "rescue" a puppy as it's supporting a lucrative criminal industry.
"We want to raise awareness around what to look out for when buying a puppy," she said.
"We know that irresponsible breeders, or sellers, can offer puppies for sale.
"These people may not have looked after the puppies properly, and may only be interested in making as much money as possible. This could mean that you end up buying a puppy that is very sick, or a puppy that has not been properly socialised.
"Buying puppies from illegal breeders can have devastating results. Often these puppies die a short time after purchase or end up with infectious diseases such as parvovirus which is expensive to treat and often fatal. They can also suffer behavioural issues relating to fear and anxiety due to poor or no socialisation.
"It can be tempting to buy a puppy in these circumstances and often purchasers recognise things are not quite right.
"It is normal to want to 'rescue' a puppy in these circumstances but people must remember they are fuelling and supporting what is a particularly lucrative criminal industry."
Alison Gilchrist from Trading Standards added that consumers should be mindful of the authenticity of documents.
She said: "Often consumers are provided with false registration and vets vaccination certificates which can make the puppy appear more valuable and attractive to the consumer."
The PSNI is encouraging anyone who is aware of illegal dog breeding establishments to contact their local council.
And if there are suspicions in respect of serious organised crime with links to fighting offences report to PSNI on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Things to look out for when buying a puppy:
Buy a dog from a known breeder, and be cautious when buying a dog that has been advertised in the media, such as on the internet, in a local paper or on a noticeboard;
Check the dog's history by talking to its previous owner and asking to see relevant documents, including the dogs vaccination certificate;
If you have doubts, speak to a vet before agreeing to buy it.