Veterinary professionals in the UK are being called on to join an online campaign to stamp out the scourge of puppy farming.

The “See Them Suckling” campaign is the brainchild of vet Cat Henstridge, who wants to encourage people to only consider buying puppies from sellers who allow them to view the litter with their mother long before they are mature enough for rehoming.

Miss Henstridge is appealing to vets to broadcast the message to clients via clinic websites and social media feeds.

Pout for puppies

#poutforpuppies
Cat Henstridge wants you to #poutforpuppies

The campaign asks people to take a selfie with their dog (if safe to do so) and share it using hashtags #poutforpuppies and #seethemsuckling, with a link to the campaign website (https://seethemsuckling.com), which contains vital pre-purchase information.

Miss Henstridge said: “Social media has given us this amazing platform to actively go out to clients and say ‘this is what you should be doing and looking for, this is how you avoid buying a puppy farm dog’.”

If enough vets take up the call, it would make it extremely difficult for puppy farmers to continue. Despite the profession being in an ideal position to make a big difference, nothing is being done, even though people genuinely respect a vet’s advice, she added.

Miss Henstridge explained: “Vets seem to be remarkably silent on the issues surrounding buying dogs and very few appear to be reaching out to educate clients before they make a purchase.

“I believe this isn’t because we don’t care, but more because vets are often ignorant of the scale of the problem with puppy farm breeding. Also, by the time the dog arrives in our consulting room, we feel it’s too late and don’t want to upset the proud new owner.”

Break the cycle

Miss Henstridge acknowledged the “chicken and egg” nature of the situation, adding vets don’t offer pre-purchase advice, so people don’t ask for it, but because they don’t ask, vets don’t offer it. To break the cycle, she said vets need to be proactive in giving advice.

She said: “The messages need to be in print and online, and the RSPCA, Dogs Trust and other charities running anti-puppy farming campaigns need to be pushing it to the profession and the public because we are the conduit through which a difference could be made.”

She hopes the campaign will lead to pre-purchase pet advice becoming the norm – resulting in owners buying healthy dogs from reputable owners.

Another issue is that even when people try to buy responsibly, they are often faced with unscrupulous traders showing litters with stooge bitches, with some even renting family homes to sell their wares from, Miss Henstridge said.

Therefore, encouraging owners to only buy from those who let them see a litter in advance not only increases the chance of seeing the real bitch and the genuine environment, it also prevents impulse buys, which fuels the puppy farming trade.

“Please join our campaign. Together, as a profession, we can honour our oath and have a huge impact on the welfare of dogs in our care now and in the future,” she concluded.

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