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Pets4Homes supports petition to ban unregulated puppy imports

The sale of imported puppies has been banned on Pets4Homes from the onset. We therefore fully support a legislation that generally prohibits unregulated imports of puppies to the UK.

UK breeders are subject to licensing requirements if in a 12 month period they breed 3 litters or more as well as anyone "in the business" of breeding and selling dogs. Transporting puppies long distances from countries that do not enforce similar regulations against puppy farms is not in the best interest of animal welfare. Additionally, imported puppies can be subject to a range of health and behavioural problems as a result of not being socialised and being housed in conditions that fail to meet the standards of domestic UK breeders.

How to identify puppies that might have been imported

Pets4Homes does not allow imported puppies to be sold on the platform which our Trust & Safety team strictly enforce. We decline between c.40% of listings to be advertised on Pets4Homes and as part of our efforts we have come across common signs that a puppy has been imported: 

Can the puppy be viewed with its mother?

  • The advertiser should ALWAYS let you see the puppies with their mother. Not being able to see the puppies mother is a sign the puppies have not been bred by the advertiser and possibly imported. If the advertiser makes excuses why you cannot see the puppies mum, walk away.
  • Ask how many litters the mother has had and how old she is, she should be at least 1.5 years old. Ask about her temperament. Ask if the parents have any health issues and if they have been tested for common health issues known in their breed. The advertiser should be willing to tell you all about the puppies parents.

Is the puppy/dog Microchipped?

  • The breeder is responsible for microchipping the puppies and must have their details registered on the microchip database first. Please check to make sure you receive the microchip documentation with chip number BEFORE taking the dog or puppy home and then arrange to transfer the microchip into your own name. 
  • The microchip should be registered in the owner’s name, otherwise it could be a case of third-party sales which is illegal regardless of whether the puppies have been imported or not.

Check the Health of the Puppy or Dog

  • It can be difficult for the average person to check if a dog or puppy is healthy or not, so if you decide to adopt or buy the puppy, make sure that the seller agrees that you can return them within 48 hours for a full refund after taking the dog or puppy to a Vet of your choice for a health check. 
  • If the puppy has already been health checked by their own vet, make sure you get evidence for this in the form of vet records and phone their vet to confirm this.

Check the age of the puppy

  • Breeders in the UK tend to advertise their litters almost as soon as the puppies have been born, or sometimes even before birth. If a litter is advertised where puppies are older, this could be an indication that they have been imported to sell. 
  • In the UK puppies should never leave their mother before the age of 8 weeks. If the puppies have been imported to be sold, they may have left their mother much earlier than that.

Commonly imported breeds

  • There are certain breeds that are over-represented in terms of imports, including Pomeranians and Dobermans. In the case of Dobermans, the puppies’ ears will usually be cropped and the tails might be docked. In the UK both cropping and docking is illegal unless there is a certificate issued by a veterinarian.

What you can do

Join us in supporting the petition to prohibit unregulated imports of puppies. You can do this by adding your name to the petition on the parliament’s website:  https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/326261

Finally, we would urge all buyers to resist the impulse of buying a puppy only to save it from its current situation. If there are any concerns at all regarding the puppy’s background or its welfare, the breeder should be reported to the relevant authorities. If you see a puppy on Pets4Homes that you suspect has been imported, then use the report form to alert our Trust & Safety team.


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