A puppy should never be bought on an impulse or without proper research, the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) are reminding prospective dog owners.

To empower prospective buyers with all the information they need to avoid puppy farms and get a happy, healthy puppy from a responsible breeder, The Puppy Contract is relaunching today with a new-look website and a step-by-step guide to the dos and don’ts of buying a puppy

70% of pet owners in the UK do some research before getting a pet, but one in four owners – or 5.2 million people- admit to doing no research at all, often putting more thought into buying a pair of shoes than a puppy. The result can be serious health and welfare consequences for the animals.

The Puppy Contract is a one-stop guide that aims to offer prospective puppy owners all the information they need at their fingertips. The free, downloadable tool-kit has been developed by AWF and the RSPCA and is supported by leading UK animal welfare charities and professional bodies – BVA, Dogs Trust, PDSA, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare and Dog Breeding Reform Group – to help anyone buying or breeding puppies to do so responsibly. It consists of two parts: an information section about the puppy and its parents, to be filled out by the breeder, and a legally binding contract for sale between the buyer and the breeder. It can be used by any breeder and is not restricted to pedigree dogs or professional breeders.

The newly launched website for The Puppy Contract helps prospective buyers navigate the steps leading up to welcoming a puppy home. It includes a ten-step guide, which has advice on whether a puppy is the right choice for the individual or family, the costs of owning one and where to get a puppy and all the right questions to ask the breeder about socialisation, vaccination, microchipping and health tests. Separate sections share tips on how to spot a puppy dealer and an overview of puppy breeding laws in all four countries of the UK.

Animal Welfare Foundation Chairperson Chris Laurence said:

“Bringing a puppy into your life is a huge commitment and choosing where to buy your puppy from is a decision that will stay with you for the dog’s lifetime. The Puppy Contract is a unique resource, designed to help guide you through the process of finding a puppy which has been bred with the best chance of living a healthy and happy life. We urge anyone looking for a new dog to take their time and do plenty of research and always use The Puppy Contract.”

British Veterinary Association President and AWF Trustee Simon Doherty said:

“Animal welfare is always the top priority for vets, and we believe that starts right at the beginning of a pet’s life.

“Poorly bred puppies can suffer diseases, health problems and poor socialisation that can lead to behaviour problems, so it is important to always consider how a puppy has been reared and cared for in its first few weeks to ensure a happy, healthy dog in later life.

“We’d encourage anyone thinking of getting a new puppy to speak to their local veterinary practice for advice on the right dog for them and use The Puppy Contract to ensure they are buying a healthy, happy and well-socialised puppy. If a seller is not willing to provide the information listed in The Puppy Contract, then you should walk away and report concerns to local authorities otherwise you risk perpetuating irresponsible dog breeding.”

RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said:

“It’s incredibly important that people do their research before starting their search for the paw-fect pooch and we hope the new-look Puppy Contract will help from the beginning of the process all the way through to the end.

“The new website will help prospective dog owners prepare to find their new pet and the contract provides a guide to the questions to ask to help identify responsible breeders and choose a happy, healthy puppy.

“While we’d always encourage people to rescue a dog we know that lots of families want to take on a puppy and we want to help them ensure they find a responsible breeder who prioritises the health and welfare of the dogs. The Puppy Contract will help people do this and we hope this will lead to a generation of happy, healthy dogs.”

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