Calls to the animal charity totalled 4,224 across the country in 2017, a 152 per cent increase since 2013. Officers from the RSPCA also rescued nearly 300 dogs from puppy farms over the same period. The RSPCA welcomed an announcement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that it was considering a ban on third party selling of puppies Chris Wainwright, RSPCA deputy chief executive, said: We are delighted that Defra is considering a ban on third party sales of puppies. We believe that cracking down on unscrupulous traders, who put profit ahead of animal welfare, will provide much-needed protection for prospective pet owners and puppies. We have always said that an end to third party sales alone would not be enough to end the puppy trade crisis so we are pleased that this is being looked at alongside enhanced licensing conditions for breeders which will come into force later this year. Mr Wainwright said: Together, we hope these moves will offer better protection to puppies and their parents and also reduce the number of families duped by rogue traders in this illegal multi-million-pound trade. Defra has been consulting the RSPCA and other organisations before making a decision on whether to bring in a ban later this year. The RSPCA said Defras proposal was the latest in a string of positive moves by the government on animal welfare. This included a government announcement in December tightening regulations on the breeding and sale of puppies. The legislation, which is expected to come into force in October, includes banning the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks old, ensuring licensed breeders show puppies alongside their mother before a sale is made and tackling the sale of weak, sick and poorly-socialised puppies and the breeding of unhealthy dogs. It would also bring in compulsory licensing for anyone breeding and selling dogs, a requirement for puppy sales to be completed in the presence of the new owner - preventing online sales where the buyer has not seen the animal first - and insisting licensed breeders only sell puppies they have bred themselves.