Vets, charities and celebrities have come together with a newly-launched government campaign to warn prospective pet owners against unknowingly buying pets from “unscrupulous” sellers following a rise in pet demand.
An open letter signed by celebrities including Kirsty Gallacher, Paul O’Grady and Amanda Holden, and supported by charities including Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the Blue Cross, Cats Protection, Dogs Trust and the RSPCA, is calling on the public to research sellers thoroughly prior to their purchase.
It comes as there has been a continued and rising demand for pets amid lockdown, with a further “boom” anticipated this summer.
Online marketplace Preloved, for example, reported that pet listings increased by nearly 50% since March, while Pets4Homes has reported a six-fold increase in new user accounts, as well as an average of 155 views per new pet advert.
Despite a recent surge of 125% in online ads for puppies, kittens, dogs and cats, the BSAVA has warned that vets are dealing with ongoing cases where owners have been sold sick animals after failing to research the sellers.
Chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said: “Prospective pet owners must beware of sinister sellers out there who breed animals purely for profit with zero concern for their welfare.
“The devastating consequences include crippling vet bills and, in the worst cases, animals having to be put down. It’s vitally important that people not only research the breed of animal they want but also the person selling it to them.”
Animal welfare minister, Lord Goldsmith said: “At this time when more people are looking for pets it is more important than ever that buyers do their research and ensure they go to a reputable seller.
“Following the introduction of Lucy’s Law earlier this year, everyone must now buy directly from breeders or consider adopting from rescue centres. So please look out for the warning signs and report any suspicious activity.”
TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher added: “My dogs mean the world to me and pets bring joy to so many. It’s shocking to hear the lengths deceitful sellers go to when selling pets and sadly this can mean animals come from low-welfare conditions with distressing consequences.
“As pet lovers, we should take responsibility by always researching the seller before buying a new pet to ensure our four legged friends live happy and healthy lives.”