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Our unique and quite special relationship with dogs

Often as best friend and protector, dogs give support to us when we need it most. In return, we give them love, food and shelter… and quite a lot of exercise. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way.

The dark side of designer dogs

Human greed means that the cruel puppy farming trade is booming. Social media hype and a throwaway fashion culture are fuelling demand for today’s trendy breeds such as French bulldogs, Boston Terriers and Pugs. Increasingly, demand for these dogs is being met by puppy farmers based across Europe. UK government Defra statistics clearly show the steep rise in commercial dog imports[1], but many more dogs are bred and imported illegally in the most inhumane conditions and simply for profit. It’s really sad to think, that in just a few years, these poor snuffly dogs, once the victim of a craze, will be the ones unwanted in animal shelters.

Reports state that illegal breeders trafficking puppies from abroad can make as much money as drug dealers, but without the same level of criminal deterrent. The dogs they have bred and sold make people rich. There is no consideration of the ongoing health problems of designer dogs such as fragile bones and restricted breathing. There is no thought or real care for the poor breeding dogs imprisoned in a life of misery. The short ferry hop from Ireland is a regular point of illegal entry. It is, in fact, now against the law in England (The Animal Welfare (Licensing of activities involving animals) (England) Regulations 2018) to breed dogs where it can be expected it would have a detrimental effect on the health of the puppy[2]. Criminals pay little heed to the law.

Hundreds of thousands of puppies are being imported from abroad to meet current fashion trends and primarily sold online. They initially look like ‘bargains’ to innocent families but trends change and vets bills mount up. Here at Naturewatch Foundation, we will keep spreading the simple message of ‘adopt, don’t shop’.

Humans should celebrate and enjoy the wonderful relationship we have with dogs and not take them for granted. Crufts, taking place this week, is a prime opportunity to talk about responsible ownership and breeding. A registered responsible breeder will often have a waiting list of several years and there are thousands of homeless dogs in animal shelters. If you are looking for a new dog in your life, please go to the local animal shelter or rescue charity first and don’t buy a dog over the internet.