Dogs Trust issues warning over ‘dogfishing’ scam

The Dogs Trust has issued a warning about a recent ‘dogfishing’ scam that is affecting dog lovers in the UK. 

New statistics from the charity revealed that “thousands” have been conned or “dogfished” into buying puppies illegally imported into the UK.

The charity polled over 2,000 puppy owners to gauge how many buyers were  victims of illegal puppy smuggling, where puppies have been smuggled into the UK from central and eastern European countries and sold for vast profits. 

Some 51% of puppy buyers were not allowed to see the dog more than once, while, 43% were not allowed to see the puppy with their mum, “two signs that all might not be what it seems”. Meanwhile, 19% were not allowed to see the puppy at the seller’s home. 

Sellers lied to 13% of respondents about what dog they were buying, lying about the age, breed, vaccinations or microchips. Over a quarter (26%) of buyers also said they had concerns related to either health or behaviour a few weeks after purchasing their puppy. 

Respondents also described how sellers “falsified paperwork, offered discounts for a quick sale or lied about the age and breed of the dog”.

In light of these findings, the Dogs Trust is now launching a new charity entitled ‘Don’t Be Dogfished’. The campaign asks prospective owners to follow necessary steps before purchasing, such as seeing both puppy and mum together at a home visit, visiting more than once, and making sure all vital paperwork is seen before purchase. 

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, said:  “Today we’re launching a campaign warning people ‘Don’t be dogfished’ – to help stop people being duped into buying puppies that have been illegally imported into the country by devious dealers.  

“People think they are getting a healthy, happy puppy but behind the curtain lurks the dark depths of the puppy smuggling trade. Many of these poor puppies suffer significant health conditions or lifelong behavioural challenges, and sadly some don’t survive, leaving their buyers helpless and heartbroken – as well as out of pocket.” 

She added: “This is why we are touring the country in a van like those used by puppy smugglers to educate the public on the shocking realities of the puppy smuggling trade and advising them how they can take action to avoid being ‘dogfished’. If it seems too good to be true, as hard as it is, walk away and report it.”    

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