People looking to buy a puppy this Christmas are being warned by councils to make sure they are not buying from irresponsible or criminal sellers, Press Association reports.

Christmas is a popular time to buy pets, so the Local Government Association (LGA) has said people should be cautious of who they are buying from, especially when agreeing to a sale online.

The profits available from selling pets remains high, attracting many irresponsible and criminal sellers who treat animals poorly, the LG said.

This is particularly prevalent with dogs. As the demand rises for pets, so does the profit to be made.

The Argus: Christmas is a popular time to buy a pet (PA)Christmas is a popular time to buy a pet (PA)

When buying a pet it is important to look out for signs of a reputable breeder.

Signs of a responsible breeder include being able to provide a local authority licence if they are breeding and selling as a business, having genuine paperwork for vaccinations, microchipping and any test results, and being available for detailed phone conversations about the dog, the LGA said.

Other signs of reputable sellers include them arranging visits to meet the puppy along with its mother and siblings.

The LGA said council teams work extremely hard to try to prevent sales by illegal and irresponsible sellers, but can often face difficulties with capacity, exacerbated when there is a surge in demand for pets.

Local environmental health teams are responsible for inspecting the local takeaway, investigating noise nuisance and monitoring air quality, as well as licensing animal breeders.

Nesil Caliskan, chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “Buying pets from licensed sellers ensures the animals meet certain regulations and will have come from safe conditions. It also means that the seller can be traced if any issues arise after purchase.

“As demand rises, the number of people looking to profit does too, and councils need increased, specialist resources in this area to ensure illegal traders get caught before any animals are harmed.”