A WARNING has been issued about the dangers of buying "click and collect" puppies.

The Kennel Club has revealed that virtual puppy buying practices are beginning to be seen as the norm - increasing the risk of scams and cruelty to animals.

Research found that more than a quarter of puppy owners in the South East had their new pet delivered without seeing its breeding environment, and 70 per cent admitted they would buy a dog in the same way again.

While a fifth of people in the South East also said they found meeting a puppy virtually, rather than in person, before purchase is "normal" and "easier", despite an end to lockdown restrictions earlier this year.

Dog experts fear that bad habits among dog buyers picked up during the pandemic could create a damaging legacy.

Mark Beazley, chief executive of The Kennel Club, said: “While the message about always seeing a puppy with its mum, in its home environment, seemed to have finally got through and was reinforced in new laws in 2020, this research shows the pandemic’s alarming impact on the way people expect to buy a puppy, with many now seeing virtual puppy buying, ‘click and collect’ or pup deliveries as the norm - taking us backwards in terms of dog welfare and responsible puppy buying.”

Mr Beazley urged the potential owners to be “puppywise”, and always see a puppy interacting with its mum and in its home environment in real life, and not over a camera.

He said: “If a breeder is offering to deliver the pup to your house or asking to take money from you before you’ve even seen the pup, alarm bells should be ringing.

“Scammers, rogue breeders and cruel puppy traders can, and will, cash in on this dangerous virtual puppy buying world, with devastating consequences for dogs.”

The organisation has also called on those thinking about owning a dog to seek out reputable sources of advertised puppies, and to think long-term before buying.

Advice, tools and resources for potential dog owners can be found on The Kennel Club’s website.

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