For our beloved four legged friends these are potentially very exciting times.
As a full time vet and animal welfare campaigner I meet and treat sick puppies and kittens every day. Many are sourced responsibly, either from ethical breeders or reputable rescue organisations, but sadly the majority are still bought on impulse, perhaps as a gift, ordered online to be delivered the next day, or spotted in a pet shop or local private dealer.
The big problem is, and what most people aren't aware of, is that puppies and kittens purchased without being seen interacting with their mothers have probably been born hundreds of miles away in the equivalent of battery farms for dogs, and to a lesser extent cats.
These cruel 'puppy farms', commonly disused scary concrete agricultural blocks conveniently tucked away in the valleys of south Wales, are breeding and mass producing these poor animals by the hundreds of thousands in horrific conditions - often with no clean drinking water, pet food, sufficient ventilation, bedding, toys, or love - then separating them from their mothers too early, and sold on for huge profits, via dealers - to poor unsuspecting pet owners across the UK.
These distressed young animals are not only deprived of invaluable socialization with their mums, starving them of the all-important emotional template that sets them up for life (often stopping them from becoming 'bad dogs'), but also riddled with infectious and hereditary diseases requiring costly veterinary and behavioural treatments to fix. Tragically as a result these dogs and cats suffer reduced life spans coupled with painful lifelong illnesses - most being euthanized just to end the pain, or just abandoned.
As well as the vast damage done to these poor defenceless young animals, detrimental welfare issues with their mothers and fathers are also extreme; from intensively close inbreeding to mating bitches on every heat (at least twice a year) for their whole lives until they're cruelly disposed of for failing to conceive, i.e. non-profitable infertility.
Sadly our government seems blind to the multitude of problems caused by puppy farming, even though it also affects the British public. On my campaign trail I've met MPs, pet industry experts, even heads of Defra - government department responsible for our country's animals - and whilst most decision makers 'seem' bothered very few are keen to act on what is now a worsening situation.
And if all that isn't enough to make you angry, wait until you find out that these puppy farms are often totally legal, happily licensed by local councils to carry on breeding and trading sick puppies to the nation's pet shops, garden centres, websites, and private dealers via free newspaper ads, who'll usually all hold valid legitimate pet shop licences to sell onto the public, who're often under the impression they're 'rescuing' them thus making room for another litter.
So a few years ago I set up PupAid a campaign and annual fun dog show run by volunteers designed to raise awareness of puppy farming and how to best choose a new pet, i.e. always ask "Where's Mum?" insisting on seeing puppy or kitten interacting with the actual mother, or consider adopting a rescue pet from a local rescue shelter instead.
By following these easy steps PupAid, together with all its supporters, (including animal loving celebs Ricky Gervais, Liam Gallagher, Brian May, and Sarah Harding) hope to educate the nation ending massive demand, and subsequently supply, of these sick farmed puppies and kittens.
We've also just launched an exciting new government e-petition designed to speed up our whole campaign, asking to ban the sale of puppies and kittens without their mothers being present which I would please ask you to sign, then share in any way possible, i.e. on Facebook, Twitter (using #wheresmum hashtag if possible), as well as sending to all your contacts, forums, databases, animal loving celebrities with big followings, even adding to work e-newsletters, etc.
We need to reach 100,000 signatures ASAP ensuring our government reacts, also the quicker we can achieve this, and the more newsworthy this story becomes vastly improving public education and increasing awareness of this massive animal welfare issue.
So please take just one minute to sign and share our e-petition which will hopefully be the beginning of the end for cruel puppy and kitten farming in the UK.