The New Zealand Veterinary Association has issued advice to prospective dog owners in light of recent news media coverage highlighting animal health and welfare concerns regarding puppy farming.
This practice involves large numbers of puppies being bred in sub-standard facilities. Puppies bred in this way may have significant and ongoing health issues, including behavioural issues that may arise from inadequate or inappropriate socialisation, not immediately obvious to prospective owners.
The NZVA recommends the public does not purchase animals sourced from puppy farms, and has developed some guidance to help the public avoid these animals, which are sometimes sold in pet stores and online.
“By choosing not to buy these animals the public can help to reduce market demand, which we hope will mean fewer puppies are bred in this way,” says NZVA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Helen Beattie.
Prospective pet owners can improve animal welfare standards by purchasing puppies from an ethical source. Buying animals from puppy farms helps to sustain this unethical business model.
“We strongly recommend members of the public visit a breeding facility before they buy a puppy so they can be confident it has been raised in a healthy environment. We suggest that owners should also meet the parents of any puppies they are considering bringing into their family,” she says.
Owners should consider contacting a veterinarian for pre-purchase advice. Veterinarians can provide owners with knowledge to make an informed decision on the best breed of pet for their circumstances. A veterinarian can give prospective owners the information to understand the difference between a good breeder, who produces healthy well-adjusted animals, and one who is less focused on ensuring puppies are given the best start in life.
These recommendations are informed by the experience of countries such as Switzerland and Sweden, which rigorously apply breeding and ownership licensing regulations, and as a result do not have an excess of unwanted dogs. Research has shown that limiting the supply of dogs in this way helps to foster an inclusive attitude, whereby dogs are seen as an important part of the family, and has resulted in low dog abandonment rates in these countries.