Research indicates that “young women” are predominantly the “decision- makers” when it comes to buying a new dog but are often acting in the “wrong way.”
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham told MSPs that the Scottish Government is in the process of developing a marketing campaign to address concerns that Scots may inadvertently getting involved in the illegal puppy trade.
“That marketing is going to be aimed at people, particularly those who are tempted by the cute puppy image and unfortunately social media is awash with cute puppies,” Cunningham told Holyrood’s public petitions committee .
“We all look at the pictures, it’s great, but unfortunately it’s leading some people into buying in the wrong way and we just need people to stop and think before they do that.
“It’s an interesting observation that the research the Scottish Government has done suggests actually when it comes to the puppy buying decision-making, it is young women who are making the buying decisions. That gives us an idea of where some of the specific targeting has to go.
Cunningham added: “That may lead to a change in where we begin to put the adverts because if it’s young women making these decisions then we need to be in the place where young women are either online or wherever.
“So targeting first time buyers, targeting young people, but clearly given this research targeting young women particularly might be something we have to seriously think about.”
Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home are among the rehoming centres around the country where animals end up after being handed over “impulse” buyers.
Chief executive Howard Bridges said: “Taking on a new pet is a major commitment, and while we know that people will always make mistakes, it’s important to note that buying a dog online from an unreliable source can bring with it a range of uncertainties, including the risk of disease and behavioural issues.
“We would encourage the public to consider rehoming a dog or cat from a rescue instead, as the rehoming process offers a safety net for customers, by ensuring the best possible match between pet and human.”
Sarah Moyes of Scottish animal campaigner OneKind backed the campaign targeting younger Scots women.
“It’s concerning to hear that young women are being tempted by pictures of cute puppies – especially if it’s leading them to purchase animals from illegal puppy dealers,” she said.
“Buying a dog is a big responsibility and it is not a decision that should be taken lightly.
“We support the plans to develop a marketing campaign aimed at young women, as it’s vital that anyone set on a particular breed they see on social media does the appropriate research and chooses a reputable breeder before buying a puppy.”