HAMPSHIRE residents are being urged to be wary of puppy farmers as they "exploit confusion around pandemic restrictions".

Following a year of emergency Covid-19 laws meaning puppies could be delivered to new homes, The Kennel Club is urging vigilance from would-be owners as domestic travel restrictions across the UK relax.

The dog welfare organisation has always urged potential new owners to avoid buying a puppy if the seller is offering to deliver it, as this allows rogue traders and puppy farms to hide horrific breeding conditions from view.

However, during the pandemic while everyone was instructed to remain at home, emergency guidance meant that breeders could deliver puppies to their new homes in certain situations.

The Kennel Club is warning of ongoing puppy deliveries and urging more vigilance from potential new puppy owners, who should now collect their puppy from where it was bred and raised, with its littermates and mum.

“Following a year of confusing and difficult Covid-19 rules for breeders, rescue organisations and potential new owners – alongside a huge demand for dogs – it’s crucial that the general public is clear on how to responsibly buy a puppy, as restrictions ease,” said Dr Ed Hayes, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at The Kennel Club.

“If you’re buying a puppy which you’ve found online, travel restrictions across Great Britain now allow you to follow usual responsible puppy buying advice: Do not agree to have your puppy delivered to you or meet half-way.

"Ask for more than one virtual viewing to see where puppies have been brought up and the litter interacting with mum. Following relevant Covid guidelines, meet the breeder, puppies and mum outdoors ahead of purchase.

“There’s been a huge increase in pet ownership during the pandemic, but we need to protect our much-loved four-legged friends and learn to spot and avoid rogue breeders, many of whom are selling online and delivering to homes, hiding horrific conditions and contributing to a puppy welfare crisis.”