People in Scotland are increasingly buying puppies online despite the risk of purchasing from illegal breeders, according to new research.

Almost half (45%) of people who bought a puppy in 2019 did so online, up from a quarter (25%) the previous year. One in five puppies bought through online advertising websites, where most illegal dealers operate, get sick or die within the first year, and one in four die before their fifth birthday.

Local SNP MSP Tom Arthur is urging his constituents to be vigilant when adopting a puppy and to follow the guidance recommended by the #LookBeyondCute campaign.

The campaign is asking people to #LookBeyondCute and make three ‘Pup Checks’. They are :

• look for the puppy’s mother
• look for paperwork such as vaccination and microchipping certificates
• walk away if something doesn’t seem right

Renfrewshire South’s MSP commented:

“As an owner of two pugs and, most recently, a Tibetan spaniel puppy, I’m saddened to see this new research. The scale of pets being sold online is a real cause for concern, and it is important to work to ensure sellers are not prioritising profit over animal welfare.

“Puppy farms breed misery, and that misery is being fuelled by the huge demand for puppies and facilitated through online adverts and sellers.

“All year round but particularly around Christmas, I would urge my constituents to do their research, make the key check to ensure you are buying safely, and never rush into buying a puppy. Most importantly, if something doesn’t feel right, walk away and report your concerns to the Scottish SPCA.”

“I am also happy to support the bold steps outlined in the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill, introduced earlier this year, which will further improve Scotland’s high animal welfare standards, both in terms of protection available for animals and the enforcement of penalties for offences.

“The Bill will increase the maximum penalties for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife offences to five years and increase the maximum penalties for various other offences. These more robust and proportionate penalties for serious offences will ensure that those guilty of these heinous acts will rightly face the full force of the law.”

Mr Arthur also recently met with Dogs Trust to discuss the key issues surrounding dog welfare in Scotland and is now looking to host a Responsible Dog Ownership event for his Renfrewshire South constituents in collaboration with the charity next year. A date is yet to be announced, but the event will focus on promoting all aspects of responsible ownership, as well as offering free microchipping, nail clipping and a general assessment of a dogs health from a Dogs Trust Veterinary Nurse.


The Buy a Puppy Safely campaign is now running across cinema, video on demand, radio and online.

The first phase of the campaign launched last year contributed to a 37% increase in the number of advice calls about suspected puppy farms to the Scottish SPCA’s animal helpline. 

Research on online puppy sales was undertaken by the Kennel Club.

Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill

A consultation on the provisions included within the Bill was carried out between 1 February 2019 26 April 2019, with the analysis published on 17 July 2019.

Images attached: Tom Arthur MSP supporting SSPCA’s campaign at the Scottish Parliament.

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