Burnley Council's illegal puppy crackdown

Illegal: many pitbull-type dogs are bred either for fighting or are just seen as status symbols.
Illegal: many pitbull-type dogs are bred either for fighting or are just seen as status symbols.

Burnley Council is calling on people to be extra careful when buying puppies after a crackdown on illegal dog breeders in the town.

The redoubled efforts come after three pitbull bitches and 21 puppies (together worth thousands of pounds) have been seized in a joint operation between the council and Lancashire Police.

It has led to renewed calls to people to only buy puppies through legal and responsible sellers, with Councillor Lian Pate, the council’s executive member for community services, saying: "People often think about buying a puppy as a Christmas present; it’s a big commitment and we’d always encourage people to think hard before making a decision.

“If you do decide to buy a puppy, then it’s important you do that in a responsible and proper way that doesn’t support illegal and immoral puppy farming. The Dogs Trust and RSPCA are good places to get advice and information on what you should be looking for.”

Council dog warden, Matthew Balderson, said: “Puppy farms and illegal breeders are just in it for the money. They don’t care about the welfare of the dogs and puppies often have miserable lives.

“Pitbull-type dogs are illegal. Sadly many are bred either for fighting or are just seen as status symbols. Many are cruelly treated and can be simply abandoned when they’ve served their purpose.

“Using illegal breeders just supports this horrible system.”

Matthew worked with the police and RSPCA after information came in from the public about illegal dog breeding activities in the town. Council and police officers visited three houses and seized mothers and puppies from their owners.

“This was a multi-agency approach with the council and police in particular working closely together,” he said. “Acting on information we served warrants and seized the dogs and puppies. Puppies can sell for hundreds of pounds so this hit the illegal breeders in their pockets and took a number of illegal dogs off the streets.”

The Dogs Trust provides advice on how to buy a puppy and be a responsible owner. This includes:

- Think about what you’re getting into: a puppy is a big commitment and grows into a dog that will be with you for many years

- There are a wide range of ways of getting a new dog – there are thousands of unwanted and abandoned dogs at rescue centres in need of a home

- If you choose to buy from a breeder make sure you see the puppy interacting with the rest of the litter and its mother. A puppy isn’t ready to leave its mother until at least eight weeks old. Visit the breeder at least twice before taking the puppy away. Puppies should have had regular human contact. Check they look healthy and don’t have any obvious signs of illness.