RSPCA senior scientific officer and dog welfare expert Lisa Hens worked with the Animal Welfare Foundation to develop The Puppy Contract in a bid to help responsible breeders and better inform buyers.
In this day and age, it’s easier to buy a puppy than ever before. But it’s never been more difficult to buy a puppy with the confidence that he has been bred with his health and welfare - and that of his parents and siblings - as a priority. More and more dogs are being bred in horrendous conditions on puppy farms, illegally smuggled into the country from disgusting breeding conditions abroad, and selectively bred to have desirable exaggerated features which often leaves them with serious health problems.
The RSPCA and Animal Welfare Foundation teamed up to produce and promote The Puppy Contract in a bid to support responsible breeders - giving them a tool to demonstrate the care and measures they have taken to breed happy, healthy puppies - and to help prospective buyers navigate the minefield of puppy buying, arming them with the information they need to find the happiest, healthiest dog they can.
Useful tool for all
Since re-launching the new-look Puppy Contract last year, we’re thrilled that the website has attracted over 100,000 page views and that the contract was downloaded more than 1,000 times in the first month alone- with almost 4,500 downloads of the factsheet for breeders. It’s incredibly rewarding to see that this tool is being used by breeders and buyers alike.
For breeders, The Puppy Contract has been designed to help them stand out from the rest and demonstrate how they are a responsible breeder. It will also help them meet the higher standards of the new regulations in England and to attract the right sort of buyers- those who care about the welfare of their puppies.
The Puppy Contract, which is free to download and has been developed by welfare professionals and vets, can also be a useful tool for vets; something they can suggest to any clients seeking advice on responsible puppy buying.
While we always encourage anyone thinking of getting a dog to consider adopting a rescue dog first, we know that many families are set on buying puppies. Given the growing concerns around welfare in dog breeding among vets, animal welfare charities, government and The Kennel Club, we felt it was important to create a guide to help people make an informed, responsible decision and, as a result, improve the welfare for hundreds of thousands of puppies born every year.
The Puppy Contract has been designed to help buyers get all the information they need and empower them before making the decision to buy a new puppy. It’s supported and promoted by a range of animal welfare and veterinary organisations including the British Veterinary Association, breeders and The Kennel Club.
So, before you buy a puppy, use The Puppy Contract and take a PAWS: Prepare ahead, Ask questions, Walk away if you’re Suspicious. Remember - If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Although it’s tempting to ‘rescue’ the puppy, you will be financially supporting the trade and sadly, another puppy will just take their place. Instead, walk away and report your concerns to the RSPCA, the local council or Trading Standards.
Lisa Hens studied zoology at university before joining the RSPCA as an animal care assistant at Gonsal Farm Animal Centre in Shropshire. She joined the charity's companion animals department in 2009 as a scientific officer and was promoted to a senior position in 2015. She's one of the RSPCA's leading dog welfare experts and specialises in issues including the breeding, dealing and trade of puppies and Dogs Die in Hot Cars