Reports of puppy farms in Norfolk increase by more than 430pc
- Credit: Archant
Reports of puppy farms operating in Norfolk have increased by more than 430pc in the last decade, according to the RSPCA.
The animal welfare charity is urging families to consider adopting a rescue pet this summer rather than purchasing one from a puppy farm.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: "It is distressing that we are still seeing so many reports about puppy farms but part of this increase is probably due to people being more savvy about what to look out for when getting a pet.
"We know there's a spike in people searching for puppies and buying dogs at the beginning of the school holidays but we'd urge families to carefully consider whether getting a dog is right for them. "Dogs are a huge commitment and need lots of time and attention, even once summer is over and the kids are back at school."
The charity said dogs from puppy farms are sometimes raised in "appalling" conditions and transported to homes in the UK to sell.
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The warning comes as new figures reveal that 2018 was the worst yet for complaints about the puppy trade in England to the RSPCA's 24-hour emergency hotline.
The charity received 4,357 complaints last year - a 390pc increase on 10 years ago when it took just 890 reports related to the underground industry.
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In Norfolk, the charity received 27 complaints in 2008 compared to 145 last year - a 437pc increase.
In Suffolk, there were 17 complaints in 2008 compared to 75 last year.
The RSPCA said "unscrupulous" breeders and dealers can make hundreds or even thousands of pounds for dogs of certain breeds.
Lisa added: "After the RSPCA campaigned for years, the Government last year finally introduced tougher licensing regulations around the selling of animals - including breeding and selling dogs - which we hope will help crackdown on this multi-million pound industry.
"The Government has also committed to a ban on the third-party sales of puppies and kittens which, alongside tougher licensing conditions will also help to tackle puppy farms and dodgy dealers. "However, we also need to educate the public to ensure that they only buy puppies from responsible breeders who prioritise the health and welfare of their dogs over profit."