Beware of Internet Puppy Scams


Despite increasing awareness, many pet owners are falling victim to buying pets via the internet, that don’t actually exist.

Thu 30 Mar 2017

By Judy

Beware of Internet Puppy  Scams

Despite increasing awareness, many pet owners are falling victim to buying pets via the internet, that don’t actually exist. We have received several emails recently, regarding the sale of puppies on various selling websites on the internet. The listings sit alongside adverts for second hand cars, sofas and golf clubs. Often these puppies do not exist, and excited potential new owners part with vast sums of money, don’t receive their puppy, and lose their money. It’s a despicable crime that affects genuine, caring owners dreaming of a new family pet.

How can these puppy scams be stopped?

Websites are taking action on fake adverts, but often not in time to protect vulnerable buyers. We’re frequently seeing adverts being taken down as they are exposed as scams. If you do see an advert that looks suspicious, don’t be afraid to report it, and keep reporting such adverts!

We’ve seen pups advertised as KC registered and bred by accredited breeders, with no evidence to prove this. We have seen adverts, that show pictures of puppies that have actually traced to America, Europe and beyond, but are reported to be for sale in this country. We’ve seen 2 images of bitches that are in fact dogs, and living happily with their owners! So, be careful out there! Sadly, as soon as an advert is removed, another tends to take its place, and so the trade continues.

In an ideal world, it would be great if the sale of pets were banned from such websites, but there is no legislation in place so far, so don’t be afraid to contact a website if you feel it is unsuitable.

What dog breeds are affected by these puppy scams?

Unfortunately all breeds are vulnerable to this kind of exploitation, but generally it’s the more valuable breeds that are affected, including hybrid dogs, large pedigrees and Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers etc.

It’s always a good idea to go the Kennel Club website if you are looking for a specific pedigree breed. Their database will list accredited breeders with expected litters and current litters available.

How to provent yourself falling victim of an internet puppy scam

Here’s a few suggestions to consider If you do answer an advert on the internet.

  • Ask to see more pictures! This is always a good tactic to see if the advert is genuine. It takes just a few seconds to take a photo on a mobile phone and send it. You’ll also then get a mobile and/or email address.
  • If you see an advert that appeals to you, make contact with the owner and find out as much as you can about the puppies. This includes size of the litter, when they were born, information about the parents etc. A genuine advertiser will be concerned that their puppies are going to a good home and should be able to give you plenty of background information on them. Additionally they should be asking YOU questions about the sort of home you will be able to offer their puppy.
  • You may feel confident especially if an advertiser gives you an address, but if anyone asks for money before you see the pup in the flesh, be careful, as this could be fake.
  • You may feel pressurised to send money over the internet, quite often bogus advertisers will claim your dream puppy has been promised to someone else, but can be made available if you make an immediate payment. Do not be threatened in this way and do NOT part with any money upfront.
  • You should expect to meet the puppy, and be able to see both parents.
  • Beware of meeting an advertiser in a car park or similar. Dogs are sometimes stolen for selling over the internet, another crime sadly on the increase.

Is every puppy advert on these selling sites an internet puppy scam?

No. There are genuine adverts on such sites. Dog owners may not be accredited breeders or simply have a litter from the family pet. Owners with working type dogs such as Spaniels often advertise on these sites as well. You just have to do all the checks recommended above to make sure that an advert is offering something genuine.

How many people have been affected by these internet puppy scams?

The truth is we really don’t know. Quite often people feel embarrassed or ashamed after losing their money, and simply don’t report it. Although awareness of these scams is increasing, fraud is still occurring as fake advertisers are often very plausible, and usually one step ahead.

Have you been affected by a puppy scam?

We’d love to hear your story. So please get in touch with us at hello@pet-owners.org