A GREAT Sankey vet has said he is becoming increasingly concerned about the number of pet dogs being bought from the internet.

Steve Hancox, from Four Paws Veterinary Clinic, Lingley Road, is urging potential pooch owners to stick to reputable breeders after the practice has seen three cases of poorly-treated puppies in the last month alone.

The practice principal said: “Reputable breeders will have websites that sit alongside websites from more dubious individuals.

“It is important that people know what to look out for as well as obtaining written information on worming and any veterinary checks.

“Prospective buyers can find themselves arranging to see the animal they are interested in, often after having seen a respectable website, but then find that the animal is being kept in less than ideal circumstances or that the animal's mother is not on the premises. “Seeing the animal's mother is important because it gives an idea of adult size and temperament but also because people need to be sure they are buying from a breeder rather than a dealer.”

‘Emotional blackmail’ is often a tactic used by dodgy dog sellers and Steve, who has been at the practice since 2000, added it does not take long for people to fall in love with a puppy needing a home.

He said: “Prospective owners should be satisfied the animal has been looked after properly before purchase.

“There is a tendency to buy animals out of pity, because they are found to be living in poor conditions, and buy an animal with health issues which may be challenging to treat.

“Although it is important that the welfare of the animal is preserved, the person selling the animal is being subsidised to continue their activities.

“We feel angry when we see puppies that have been sold in this way but also sympathetic to the poor owner who has unwittingly walked into the situation.”

Prospective owners should check advice sheets from organisations including the Kennel Club and The Dogs Trust or local vets can advise residents.