The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is appealing to the gay community to think before purchasing or adopting designer dogs as part of their new 'Bred for looks, born to suffer' campaign.
The British animal welfare charity believes that people who purchase toy breeds and 'handbag dogs' aren't doing enough research beforehand and hope that their campaign will help to raise awareness of these animals' special needs.
Justine Pannett, senior campaigns manager at the RSPCA, told Gay Star News: 'Since we launched the petition we've had over 5,000 signatures, so you can tell that this is an issue which is really close to peoples hearts.'
Chihuahuas and pugs are among the 50 breeds which the RSPCA are particularly concerned about. Bred purely for their looks, these animals are vulnerable to disease, disability, pain and are at risk of developing behavioural problems.
In a survey commissioned by the RSPCA, members of the public were asked what comes to mind when they think of pure breed or pedigree dogs with the top six results being: expensive, well-bred, from good breeding stock, quality responsibly bred and healthy.
However, this is not always the case as Pannett explains: 'A lot of people think that pedigree means quality. You see a lot of breeders stating that their puppies are Kennel Club Registered (KCR) but that really doesn't indicate anything.'
'There is a massive misconception regarding what KCR stands for. It is essentially the same as a birth and death certificate, it gives no indication of the breeding quality whatsoever.'
For people who intend on buying or adopting a dog, Pannett offers this advice: 'We recommend that you do your research before adopting or buying a dog: talk to a number of breeders, ask questions, meet your puppy several times and be prepared to wait. A good breeder cares about who they sell their dog to.'
If you already own a toy breed and are worried about its health then it is recommended that you consult your vet immediately.