Naturewatch Foundation is urging Blackburn residents and visitors to be on their guard against puppy farmers and illegal backyard breeders this summer.

The animal welfare charity has launched a new campaign across motorway service stations to help members of the public spot the signs of illegal and low-welfare dog breeders.

Look out for P4Puppies posters in service station washrooms throughout the North West where you can learn the charity’s top three tips for avoiding dodgy puppy peddlers, as well as how to find out more about puppy farming in the UK.

Although demand for puppies has slowed since during the pandemic, there are still cruel people out there looking to exploit dogs and the public for money.

The charity’s puppy farming campaign manager, Natalie Harney, said: “Welcoming a dog into your home is so exciting, but choosing your new best friend can be really tricky, especially if you choose a puppy.

“Dishonest puppy farmers know all the tricks in the book to try and dupe people into buying sick pups who have been bred in shocking, and often illegal, conditions. That’s why we’ve launched our P4Puppies campaign.

“We always encourage anyone who is thinking about getting a dog to visit their local rescue centre first, and this is especially important at the moment as the cost-of-living crisis is putting shelters under considerable pressure.”

One illegal dog breeder from Manchester made £30,000 during lockdown so it’s important to do proper research to avoid supporting unlawful breeders.

Natalie continued: “When you are ready to start visiting breeders, make sure you see the pup with their mum at the place they were bred, and trust your instincts. If something seems odd, walk away.

“Finally, ask to see the puppy’s paperwork and insist on completing a document called the Puppy Contract. Good breeders will be more than happy to use this.

“And remember, getting a puppy isn’t right for everyone. Puppies are wonderful but they’re also hard work, so think carefully about your decision.

“Can you invest the time and money required to care for them? Are you prepared to make sacrifices to your lifestyle for the next 10-15 years?

"If you don’t own your own home, are you confident your living arrangements are secure for the long-term and suitable for a dog? There’s lots to consider, so don’t rush into it.”

Naturewatch Foundation has been campaigning against puppy farming for many years.

Since 2019, it has received more than 1,000 reports about suspected low-welfare and illegal dog breeding to its Hotline4Puppies.

If you suspect someone is involved in puppy farming, you can report your concerns in confidence to the charity. Visit to find out more.