Pets should be allowed in stores

Buying a dog in Corona times: Recognizing the illegal puppy trade

As of: 04/29/2021 2:21 p.m.

In lockdown, many people long for a dog. But the purchase should always be carefully considered. Caution is advised when buying dogs on the Internet - because the illegal puppy trade is booming.

Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, breeders and animal shelters have hardly been able to save themselves from inquiries from animal lovers. At the animal welfare organization Tasso, for example, which operates a free pet register, significantly more dogs were registered last year than in 2019.

Buy a dog - yes or no?

A dog needs care and time - even after the pandemic.

Dogs are supposed to drive away the boredom in lockdown and lighten the gloomy mood. But an animal also means a great deal of responsibility. When the time in the home office is over, restaurants and shops have reopened and travel is again possible without any problems, the animal friend is still there - and that for many years.

Anyone who buys a dog should be prepared to spend time with them on a regular basis, because depending on their size, breed and age, the animals need activity and exercise. Young dogs have to be trained, and that too takes time - regardless of whether you take the training into your own hands or attend a dog school with the animal.

Vacation plans can change with a dog

Dogs are also reluctant to be alone - this can mean restrictions for the owner. Whether evening activities such as the cinema and the theater or vacation - the dog cannot go everywhere without problems. The question of who will take care of the animal during these times should definitely be clarified before purchasing. Last but not least, dogs also cost money - not only for the purchase, but also for food, veterinarian, taxes and other accessories.

Illegal Puppy Trafficking: Beware of Online Businesses

Be careful with dog purchases that do not take place directly at the breeder's home, but at a motorway service station, for example.

If you have decided to take a dog with you, you should look carefully when buying it. Illegal puppy trade is a million dollar business - and is currently booming because of the great demand. Often the animals come from a so-called mass reproduction: the bitches vegetate together with the stud dogs in windowless crates, they are often sick and pass on genetic defects and diseases to the puppies. The young animals are often malnourished and not vaccinated. They are usually separated from their mother too early, which can lead to massive behavioral disorders later. Sometimes the little dogs are so sick that they die just a few days after they are sold.

Recognize trafficked puppies

Illegal trafficking puppies are mostly offered online. The advertisements themselves often do not give sufficient indications of so-called torture breeding. The illegal puppy trade can be recognized by the following criteria:

  • The dealer wants to deliver the puppy directly to the house or in a public place, possibly through a middleman.
  • The puppy is very young, can barely open its eyes and walk. According to the Animal Welfare Ordinance, puppies may only be separated from their mother when they are eight to twelve weeks old.
  • The animal is in poor health, weak, paralyzed, or has discharge from the eyes or nose. Animals with these symptoms are mostly unvaccinated and not dewormed. In this condition, they rarely survive the first year.
  • The animal does not have a microchip, accompanying documents with herd book number or the pet passport are missing - or additional money is required for the breeding documents.
  • Inadequately or incorrectly completed documents with misspellings are also a warning. Pedigrees could be falsified, vaccination dates could differ from the age of the puppy.
  • Statements like "The dog does not need a certificate" are dubious. In any case, insist on a health certificate!
  • The seller offers puppies of different breeds at low prices. Reputable breeders focus on one, at most two, breeds.
  • Very low prices or prices that drop sharply within a few days indicate an illegal offer. The dealer may want to sell a sick puppy quickly before it dies. For comparison: puppies from recognized breeders cost at least 800 to 2,000 euros, depending on the breed.

Inform the police if there is any suspicion

If you suspect illegal puppy trafficking, you should inform the local animal welfare association or the police. It is best to write down the license plates of suspects. If a suspicion is confirmed by the vet, it is best to contact the police together with the doctor. In the event of dubious advertisements on the Internet or in newspapers, you can inform the local animal welfare association.

Buy a dog - recognize reputable breeders

Puppies should not be separated from their mother until they are eight to twelve weeks old at the earliest.

Serious breeders are allowed to visit the puppy beforehand so that they can have a look at the place of rearing, the breeding bitch and littermates. Often the breeders even recommend these visits themselves, so that the animal can slowly get used to its new master or mistress. Interested parties should make sure that the mother and puppy appear healthy and that the young are lively and have a natural play instinct. As a rule, the breeder also asks questions to find out whether the dog will be fine later and whether the interested parties are suitable. In addition, reputable breeders will not refuse to have a veterinarian examine them before making a purchase.

According to the Animal Welfare Act, anyone who trades in puppies commercially requires the approval of the responsible veterinary office, which also controls keeping and breeding. For puppies from Germany, a vaccination certificate with specific entries is required:

  • first vaccination against distemper, parvovirus and other infectious diseases in the eighth week of life
  • second vaccination against rabies in the twelfth week
  • the young dog should wear a chip (country code for Germany is 276)
  • If the puppy comes from another EU country, it must be equipped with an EU pet passport and a veterinary health certificate.
  • Dogs from non-EU countries are not allowed to enter the country until they are seven months old at the earliest. The relevant animal welfare regulations apply to the transport.

Pick up dog from the shelter

Dogs from animal shelters are a good alternative, especially for people who have already had dog training.

Experienced dog owners, in particular, may consider taking a dog out of the shelter. However, these dogs always have a history, some animals may have behavioral problems, such as overly fearful or aggressive. These animals may need more attention and time. However, every dog ​​is different. The animal shelters provide detailed information to interested parties about the dog's personality and needs and only give them to owners who they believe are up to the animal.

The animal shelters each charge a nominal fee for the animal. It is around 200 to 300 euros. With this fee, the homes cover part of their running costs, at the same time it is intended to prevent frivolous decisions to buy an animal.

Editor's note: In an earlier version of the article it was mentioned that 25 percent more dogs were newly registered with the animal welfare organization Tasso last year than in 2019. This was not true. This increase only applied to June 2020 compared to June 2019. Calculated over the year as a whole, registrations rose by 8 percent. Please excuse the mistake.


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The Northern Reportage | 04/28/2021 | 6:15 p.m.