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Featured Image Credit: DEFRA
The Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture is warning people against shopping for their new pet at a puppy farm - instead encouraging potential owners to do their research.
The new video - which is titled '12 Days of Petfish' - shows what can happen when people don't use legitimate sellers when a family buy a dog called Chester who sings about feeling weak and wheezing.
Chester is eventually taken to the vets and his owners have to fork out £5,000 to treat him. Towards the end of the clip, Chester sings: "On the twelfth day of Christmas, I made it home for tea, I know pets who just aren't so lucky..."
With a 400 percent surge in searches for 'buy a puppy' expected from mid-November, the UK's Chief Vet has raised concerns about the risk posed by deceitful low-welfare sellers who breed and keep animals in poor conditions to take advantage of this spike in prices
Animals bred in low-welfare conditions can often be separated from their mother too early in their development and this can lead to severe health and behavioural problems resulting in high vet bills.
Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, said: "After a difficult year and with many of us spending more time at home, many people may be considering getting a new puppy or kitten.
"However, the lead up to Christmas is a prominent time for unscrupulous sellers to take advantage of those looking to buy a new pet. That is why we are advising people to remain vigilant and to always thoroughly research sellers before getting in touch."
"Potential buyers should also note that Christmas might not be the best time to get a pet as it can be noisy and chaotic, which isn't the best environment to settle in a new animal."
Chris Sherwood, RSPCA's Chief Executive, added: "While the idea of a new pet joining your family around the tree may be a wonderful festive scene, the truth behind your Christmas puppy could be much darker.
"Dogs used in the underground puppy trade lead miserable lives in horrific conditions and their puppies often have lifelong health and behavioural problems due to their poor start.
"We're supporting the Petfished campaign to urge prospective buyers to always research the seller first. It is always much better to wait for the right dog than to rush into buying - and unwittingly support cruelty. If concerned, walk away from the seller and contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999."
The government-led Petfished campaign provides advice on how to research a seller and what warning signs to look out for, such as: