They say a dog is for life not just for Christmas - but that life could be short lived as truckloads of illegal puppies enter the UK in time for the festive period, often with life-limiting illnesses.
Puppies are one of the top presents children are asking for this Christmas but exclusive figures obtained by GMB show one in three vets in the UK have treated a dog they believe was illegally imported in the last 12 months.
**Tips for buying a puppy**
View the puppy where it was bred. Be suspicious if the seller cannot show you the puppy with its mother and litter mates. Excuses such as "she's out for a walk" or "she died in labour" should ring alarm bells.
Avoid an impulse purchase and don’t be pressured to come and look at or buy a puppy within the next 24 hours. Responsible breeders would want to meet you several times before letting you take one of their pups.
Pay attention to the puppy. The puppy should be busy, inquisitive and have a happy demeanour. Arrange to have your new puppy checked by your vet as soon as possible after purchase.
Nevermeet in car parks or agree to a breeder delivering a puppy to your house.
Be cautious of a seller offering you multiple breeds and dog types.
Get your puppy paperwork. If the puppy has been vaccinated ask to see all the documentation. This must clearly state the vet where it was carried out. Be suspicious if it’s outside the UK.
Imported puppies must have a pet passport and be a minimum of 15 weeks of age.