Since March last year, it has been reported by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association that a total of 3.2 million households have acquired a pet. This in turn means that puppy sales have soared, with prices reaching an unprecedented high. Undoubtedly for many people lockdown was a boring and lonely time and for many families, with parents furloughed or working from home, lockdown might have seemed like the ideal time to buy a puppy. Now, even though restrictions are beginning to ease, puppy sales are still flourishing; but where is the best place to look for a puppy these days?

Firstly, please don’t discount animal welfare organisations. Many have continued to rehome animals throughout the last twelve months by processing applications online and by carrying out home checks via zoom, but with the lifting of restrictions, the whole process is now becoming a lot more straightforward.

Undoubtedly, the online market place is still the first port of call for many prospective buyers, but beware for here things are not always as they seem. Sadly, there have been a number of cases reported where people have been scammed into parting with money for a dog that does not even exist. The moral here is never to pay a deposit for an animal that you have not seen in the flesh.

Next, I would always ask to see the puppies’ mother. Even during the pandemic, this could be achieved via video call, in fact any genuine breeder would encourage this and please be aware that puppies and heavily pregnant bitches are still being imported illegally, from certain smuggling hotspots in Europe.

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, in fact why not make a list of everything that you would like to know, before you even pick up the telephone? Do ask to see all vital paperwork, such as a veterinary health check certificate, microchip details (required by law for all dogs from 8 weeks of age). Has puppy had his first Vaccination? When was he last wormed and what product was used?

Sadly, as the market has grown, more puppies are being bred in premises that are little more than industrial units where breeding bitches live sad, lonely lives. But, there are many reputable breeders out there, people who genuinely want the best for their puppies so it is just a case of doing your homework.

It would appear that my dog Jamie was born in some sort of breeding establishment. He was sold at 12 weeks of age, with little help or guidance given to his new owner and sadly things began to go wrong. His new owner tried to go back to the breeder, only to discover that the telephone number was no longer operational. Such a nervous little dog, rehoming

Jamie was stressful for him, but also very upsetting for his first owner. Ultimately, in this case, things worked out well as the Northern Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rescue Society became involved, which brings me back to my first point – don’t discount welfare dogs.

Twelve months down the line, I can honestly say that giving a home to Jamie was one of the best decisions that I have ever made.