Dogs Trust is warning the public about the perils of buying dogs via online adverts after rescuing dozens of smuggled pups since the start of lockdown worth tens of thousands of pounds that were destined to be sold on to unsuspecting UK buyers during the peak of the lockdown puppy-buying rush.
Since the beginning of lockdown on 23 March, when demand for puppies began increasing rapidly, Dogs Trust has rescued 43 dogs via its Puppy Pilot scheme that were illegally imported into the UK from central and eastern Europe, with an estimated street value of £80,000.
The charity has also saved 12 heavily pregnant mums, who have given birth to 53 puppies worth around an additional £100,000 to “cruel smugglers”.
Earlier this year, Dogs Trust 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.
Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust’s veterinary director, said: “It is absolutely heart-breaking that we continue to see dogs being illegally imported into the country, often in terrible conditions to make huge profits for cruel puppy smugglers.
“We might be in the midst of a pandemic, but these devious sellers will still use every trick in the book to scam unsuspecting dog lovers.”
She said: “Sadly, it’s all too easy to be Dogfished and it can be very difficult to know if you are buying a puppy that has been smuggled. We would advise you to always see a puppy with and interact with their mum and go and see it more than once.
“Ask lots of questions, and ask to see vital paperwork, such as a puppy contract. If you have any doubts or it feels too good to be true, as hard as it may be, walk away and report the seller.”