Pet shops are to be banned from selling puppies, under tough new rules to prevent so-called “puppy farming”.
Many are familiar with the image of a puppy in a pet shop window, but behind the cute image often lies a story of exploitation and even abuse.
Michael Gove, the environment secretary, acted after the RSPCA warned of a "puppy crisis."
Third-hand sales of puppies often mean that sick dogs can be sold as healthy, and it is difficult for the consumer to find out the health of the mother. Animals are often also taken away from their mother far too soon, which can cause problems, and bred in sub-standard conditions.
The Telegraph spoke to David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA, about why this new piece of legislation is so important, and what potential pet owners should look for before buying a dog.
The truth behind pet shop pooches
Mr Bowles said: "The trade in puppies in England is probably something like 700,000 dogs coming on to the market every year.
"And some of those dogs are being sold by what we call third party sellers and you get very poor conditions, being sold in lay-bys, the dogs have poor welfare and they're very badly adjusted."
Never buy dogs from a pet shop
Mr Bowles was very clear that dogs should only be bought from the breeder.
He said that research should be done to find an appropriate breeder, explaining: "So if you want a specific breed just get it from a breeder that you trust, do your research and certainly work out whether you have the energy, the money, the time to exercise that dog, give the dog the right food and water, give it the right veterinary care."
The checks you should do when buying a puppy
The RSPCA chief explained: "They shouldn't be giving you the dog on the first time you get there, you certainly should not be getting the dog anywhere apart from the breeder's house. You should be asking to see the dog's mother because that shows that the person has bred the dog themselves.
"Ask where it's come from if it's microchipped, if it's vaccinated. All of those things the breeder should be very happy to give you the information and you should walk away with a well-adjusted dog.
"Ask if the breeder has the puppy contract. Ask if they are Kennel Club registered. Those are all fairly good signs to show that the breeder knows what they're doing and is breeding responsibly.
"So a dog should be well adjusted and well socialized; if it looks scared, it doesn't look like it knows how to react around humans then it may be badly socialized. "
The new measures mean it should be easier to buy a healthy puppy
Many of the warnings the RSPCA has given about purchasing a puppy are covered under the new measures.
These include banning licensed sellers from dealing with puppies and kittens under the age of eight weeks; introducing compulsory licensing for breeders who sell puppies, which they must have bred themselves, and requiring puppy sales to be completed in the presence of the new owner, preventing online sales.