PROSPECTIVE dog owners in Middlewich are being urged to take care when buying puppies following a spike in reports about sick dogs.

The RSPCA and Cheshire East Council have had 10 incidents reported in the area since the beginning of the year, and they are concerned more families have not reported similar concerns due to lockdown.

Caren Goodman-James, RSPCA inspector, said: “We’ve had a series of tragic reports from families who have bought puppies this year and they’ve fallen ill very quickly after arriving home.

“During lockdown, a number of these reports have been made to the RSPCA and to the council and we’re concerned that there may be many other families out there who haven’t thought to report their concerns to us.

“Sadly, in the most recent cases two puppies have died after testing positive for parvovirus, a highly contagious and life-threatening virus that can prove fatal to pups.

“We’re extremely concerned that dogs are being exploited by unscrupulous breeders looking to cash in on the demand for puppies and that members of the public are being conned and being left heartbroken.”

RSPCA officers, CEC and Cheshire Police are urging families who may be looking to buy puppies to be extremely cautious and follow these top tips:

  1. Do lots of research and make sure you can commit to a new dog before looking for your new family member
  2. Adopt don’t shop – visit your local RSPCA centre to see if you can offer a rescue dog a home
  3. Use the Puppy Contract – a guide to how to responsibly source a puppy which can help you find a happy, healthy dog
  4. Always visit more than once and see the mum and puppies interacting together – be wary of any breeder who won’t let you see mum or pressures you into buying cash there and then
  5. If you’re concerned about something you see at a breeder then walk away, do not buy the puppy and report your concerns to the RSPCA, police on 101 or CEC.

From 2009 to 2019, the RSPCA received 28,168 complaints relating to the puppy trade.

In the last seven years, the charity has rescued 2,172 dogs from puppy farms or imported as part of the illegal trade across England and Wales.

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New licensing regulations introduced in England in October 2018 tightened laws around the breeding and selling of puppies and other pets, and earlier this year a ban on third-party sales was introduced meaning that all puppies bred in England should be sold from their place of birth.

Anyone with concerns for the welfare of dogs or puppies being sold or used for breeding should report their concerns to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or contact the council by emailing