*This article contains content some might find distressing.*
The conversation around the ethics of buying puppies online has benefited from increased publicity lately.
Just this week, it was announced a petition to ban the importation of pups is set to be debated in parliament after the number of signatures reached over 100,000.
In popular culture, the tragic death of Love Island stars Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury's puppy who was imported from Russia earlier this year, brought the issue into focus.
But clearly there is still much work to be done, after a pair of four week old pups were left dying at the side of the road last week.
The two young spaniels were discovered in a sad state by a member of the public in Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland on 6th August.
The four-week-old puppies should have still been with their mother. Sadly, one of the puppies passed, while the other had to be euthanised.
Animal welfare chiefs at the Scottish SPCA have issued a stark warning about the illegal puppy trade, urging people not to buy puppies online where rogue breeders often operate.
The warned there can be no guarantee puppies have not been illegally imported when buying online.
"Due to the circumstances in which these young spaniels were found, we suspect they may have come from the Cairnryan port as part of the illegal puppy trade.
"In the past we have come across similar cases such as this where any puppies who fall ill on the journey are simply discarded and left to die.
"These young dogs were only four weeks old and should have still been with their mother and littermates.
"Instead they were left to die alone and afraid at the side of the road. This is the true cost of the puppy trade."
They added: "We cannot stress this enough, the supply for badly-bred puppies will only disappear if public demand stops.
"Every year, thousands of pups are dying at just days or weeks old to fuel the trade.
"We will continue to fight the puppy trade every step of the way, but we need each and every person to do their bit to help us stop it.
"There are thousands of adverts on websites like Gumtree for puppies, but there is no guarantee you are buying from a responsible breeder when you shop online."
The discovery of the pups in Scotland follows recent seizures of dogs by SSPCA officers at the nearby Cairnryan port, which connects to Belfast.
Sadly, this is becoming all too familiar news.
In March, 38 French Bulldog puppies were found dead in a cargo of a plane flying from Ukraine to Canada, with dozens more arriving dehydrated and seriously ill.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed that roughly 500 Frenchie puppies were on board the flight from Ukraine to Toronoto. Again, this is all linked to the illegal puppy trade.
At the time, Prof. Scott Weese of the University of Guelph, who works with Public Health Agency of Canada, told CBC he suspects there was an "organised crime component" with puppy mills importing the dogs and selling to Canadian owners.
Just this week, a petition to ban the importation of young puppies is scheduled to be debated in parliament.
The petition - which currently has 108,000 signatures - was started by 27-year-old dog lover, Lucy Parkinson following the death of Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury's puppy, Mr Chai, who was imported from Russia for Molly's birthday present.
"Plenty of dogs from UK breeders and rescues need homes. Transporting young pups long distances is often stressful, before being sold for ridiculous prices to unsuspecting dog-lovers," the petition explained.
"Government must adjust current laws, ban this unethical activity on welfare grounds and protect these poor animals ASAP."
Let's hope we can start seeing some real change to stop puppies being separated from their mothers too early and needlessly suffering and dying.
And if you're looking to buy a puppy, please don't do it online. When the demand stops, the appalling trade will with it.
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