A GUISELEY vet has issued a checklist for anyone buying a puppy as strict new laws are being introduced in the UK.

Dr James Harris from White Cross Vets is warning buyers to beware of inadvertently propping up a cruel trade which sees very young animals torn away from their mothers. He is issuing advice after the government announced strict new laws to make the sale of puppies under eight weeks old illegal for the first time in the UK.

Dr Harris said: "The sale of puppies under eight weeks old is to be made illegal under plans to crack down on backstreet breeders and puppy farms. Anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year will have to apply for a formal licence. Smaller breeders as well as commercial breeders will have to meet a strict welfare criteria and those who sell pets on the internet will be subject to the same licensing regulations."

Any breeders who break the rules, could face an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison.

Dr Harris said: "Unfortunately there are a small number of unscrupulous breeders out there who simply do not have the dog’s best interest at heart, and are solely driven by financial gain. It’s harrowing to see young puppies pulled away from their mothers before they should be, and for so many female dogs to be used in a continuous and unhealthy breeding cycle in horrible conditions just to make money should be punishable. We therefore welcome these new rules, but would of course like to see even firmer consequences for those people who flaunt them."

He added: "It’s also really important to educate people who are thinking about buying a puppy about the right way to go about it. We need to stop buyers inadvertently funding this cruel trade and can only do this by making it really clear what they should be looking for."

White Cross Vets is warning people to be wary of buying a puppy online. They have also issued a list of thing to check for, including medical records and details for the mother and information about the father. Buyers are being advised to check whether the animals are microchipped and to see the puppies suckling from their mother, preferably with their siblings, and always in their own home.