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Buying a pet? Don't get Petfished

publication date: Nov 18, 2021
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author/source: Anne Coates

choosing a puppyA recent survey of UK cat and dog owners found over a quarter came across a seller or advert that made them feel suspicious of the welfare of the pet, while purchasing their last cat or dog. The research further reveals the public are at risk of purchasing puppies and kittens from deceitful sellers, otherwise known as being "Petfished", finding:

  • Less than half of UK dog or cat owners visited the seller in-person in the animal’s home when researching their recent pet purchase.
  • More than one in ten pet buyers didn't do any research at all before visiting their puppy or kitten for the first time.
  • Under a third of dog and cat owners feel very confident they could spot the signs of a low welfare puppy or kitten seller.

In addition, a survey of British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) members found nearly two thirds of pet owners were unaware that the clinical and behavioural signs of their pet may be linked to low welfare breeding practices.

Bill Lambert, Health and Welfare expert at The Kennel Club said:

“Buying a puppy is a huge decision and all prospective owners should do the proper research and have all the facts available so that they can make an informed decision.

“We know there has been a surge in demand for puppies during the pandemic. The current mismatch between supply and demand can lead to more people being duped by rogue breeders and scammers, and inadvertently fuelling low-welfare breeders.”

To avoid being Petfished, the public are being urged to spot vital red flags when researching sellers, with the help of the acronym S.P.O.T.:

Seller – Put the seller’s name and details including phone number into a search engine – avoid those with multiple adverts.

Parent – Make sure you see puppies and kittens in their home with their mother.

Old enough – Check puppies and kittens are at least 8 weeks old before you take them home.

Treatment – Ask to see the animal’s health records and avoid sellers who can’t provide them.

More information on what to do before contacting a seller and what to ask when you do get in touch can be found at Get Your Pet Safely.