09/08/2015 14:53 BST | Updated 09/08/2016 06:59 BST

How Much Is That Doggy in the Window?

I love the French attitude to dogs. Compared to the UK, which sadly seems to be becoming more restrictive, they are made much more welcome in shops and cafes as well as restaurants. I love dogs of all shapes and sizes but have a particular penchant for small dogs and I'm the proud owner of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Sophie. Small dogs, pampered little pooches, proliferate in France, particularly in the chic neighbourhoods of the South of France from which I have just returned. Places like Nice and St Tropez are a small dog lover's heaven. Or, are they? What troubles me about the French attitude to dogs is that they seem to regard these cute canines more as commodities than we do in the UK. In France, as in large swathes of the continent, you can easily buy a puppy from a pet shop. You can, if the mood took you, pop out for a pint of milk and come back with a pooch.

In the UK, it is now rare to buy a puppy from a store with only 2% of dogs being acquired in this way. While not yet illegal, the sale of puppies and cats in pet stores has declined dramatically since the 1980s. Councils already have the power to restrict sales and it's an area that's tightly regulated. There have been calls for a complete ban, but encouraging responsible breeding of dogs should be the focus of any concerted action, in my opinion. Puppy farming is a far bigger issue and pet shop dogs often originate from such breeding 'factories'. Many of these dogs have had the worst possible start in life. Puppies and young dogs are increasingly sold privately online, which makes efforts to regulate such sales very difficult. There have been repeated calls, so far to little avail, to ban sites such as Gumtree from continuing to allow the sale of live animals.

Puppy farms also churn out ex-breeding bitches that can also make the most wonderful of pets with a lot of time, love and dedication. As editor of Pets Magazine, I have recently had the pleasure of speaking to two ladies who have become the saviours of former puppy farmed dogs. Lisa Garner rescued Lucy the Cavalier and they are together working miracles helping to raise awareness of the scourge of puppy farming. For more about Lisa and the adorable Lucy, please visit here. Janetta Harvey has also rescued former puppy farmed dogs including miniature schnauzer Susie-Belle, who has won a special place in her owner's heart. Read about Susie-Belle's story here.

When considering buying a puppy, it's important to ensure that you visit a reputable breeder. Always see a puppy with its mum and preferably its siblings and never be tempted to buy a dog from a van or at motorway services, for instance. These puppies will have had the worst possible start in life and could also have potentially fatal diseases such as parvovirus or congenital diseases.

If there are problems, your rights as a purchaser are based upon the contract with the breeder. The sale of a dog might be covered under the general terms of the Sales of Goods Act 1979 and as such there will be legal rights and remedies available. You could have statutory rights under the Trades Description Act and therefore your local Trading Standards Office or Citizens Advice Bureau should be able to help.

Sadly, if buying a puppy from a pet shop or the modern-day online 'pet shops' there are no guarantees that the cute little dog you get is what you will end up with. Disease and congenital issues are rife among these poor dogs and by buying from these sources you are also, however innocently, lending tacit support to this evil trade. So, before you ask, how much is that doggy in the window, please stop and think twice.

Marie Carter is the Editor and Publisher of Pets Magazine, a unique leading lifestyle magazine for pet owners, with a monthly readership of 24,000.