Warning over web gift pets

Catriona Shaw, from Hillcrest Vets, Chorley.
Catriona Shaw, from Hillcrest Vets, Chorley.

A Chorley vet is warning people about the dangers of buying puppies on the internet this Christmas.

Catriona Shaw, from Hillcrest Vets, says an increasing number of dogs are becoming seriously ill within a few days of getting new owners.

She is concerned that people do not always know the background of animals bought online and fears they could carry serious diseases such as rabies. And although they look “official” with microchips and passports, Catriona believes some puppies have been brought into the country illegally from eastern European countries.

Hillcrest Vets, which has practices in Chorley, Eccleston and Buckshaw, has seen a rise in the number of worrying animals brought to them.

Catriona said: “We have had eight suspect pups brought into our veterinary practice in the last three months. No pups have been admitted to quarantine from our practice yet. The danger is these pups could bring rabies with them into our homes and this will result in people dying. The internet is a wonderful tool, but you can be buying from countries with rabies and these pups are not going through the normal channels so the safeguard of legislation is not there.”

She is urging anyone considering getting a puppy for Christmas to arrange to visit the animal in its home environment once or twice to see it grow, develop and interact with its mother and siblings.

Rachel Wilcock, from Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, said: “We’d advise people who are thinking of buying a kitten or puppy to be as sure as possible of its origin and the best way to do this is to see the animal with its mother at the breeder’s home. Without this, there is always a danger the animal could have been imported without the proper controls and be diseased.”

Dogs Trust is running a campaign, Press Paws, encouraging people to think carefully before buying a dog.

Clarissa Baldwin, chief executive of Dogs Trust and chairman of Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG), said: “Whilst we recognise that pets are commonly advertised online, it is still shocking to know that there are between 100,000 and 120,000 pet advertisements appearing on UK websites each day. The research undertaken by PAAG has revealed some truly terrible examples where animal welfare was clearly the last thought in the mind of the advertiser.”

Hillcrest is offering a free microchip scan for all new puppies to find out if they are illegally-sourced.