Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is urging would-be dog owners to think twice about how they buy a dog in attempts to crackdown on backstreet breeding.

Breeding of dogs in often dirty and squalid conditions takes place in neighbourhoods across the country.

Now, the welfare group has launched a major campaign calling for a clampdown on the many undercover dog breeders that profit from the poor treatment of these animals.

The animal charity is calling for a ban on the sale of puppies under eight weeks old and the introduction of a breeding licence requirement for any household producing two or more litters per year.

Claire Horton, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home chief executive, said: “Battersea is speaking out to help expose and shame the callous breeders in our communities who are creating far too many unhealthy, unwanted and abandoned dogs all in the name of personal profit.

“At Battersea we see the consequences of this problem every day, with strays coming through our doors, many of whom show signs of in-breeding and others that have been used to produce countless litters before being turfed out on the street.

“These puppies and breeding bitches are often tomorrow’s status dogs and we must put an end to such inhumane, money-making activities.”

Welfare campaigners argue dogs used for backstreet breeding are forced to lead a miserable life and are frequently kept in cramped, uncomfortable conditions, never exercised and used to produce litter after litter with no thought for their health.

Exhausted and under-socialised, these dogs are all too often thrown on to the streets once they have served their purpose.

Battersea ambassador Paul O’Grady is supporting the campaign and added: “I’ve seen first-hand the poor, damaged dogs in Battersea’s kennels that have been bred from over and over again. It sickens me to think what these dogs go through before they’re dumped on the streets broken and unloved.

“The awful thing is backstreet breeders are everywhere lining their pockets from the demand for puppies.

“If there’s one thing we can all do it’s to make sure we think about where we’re getting a puppy from. Visit a rescue centre or a registered breeder and help Battersea end backstreet breeding.”

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