Collecting a puppy in a carpark or layby, or being denied the opportunity to see a puppy's parents should set alarm bells ringing.
But new dog owners can often miss the red flags of dodgy breeders, and pay a heavy price.
One new pet owner spent Christmas Day in the emergency vets with her new puppy, who died two days later, and is now warning others to be cautious of dogfishing scams.
Sarah, a 30-year-old from Chichester, Sussex, bought a puppy advertised online on Christmas Eve, and spent the following day at the vets where the pup – named Evie – needed emergency treatment.
The dog had contracted parvo virus, a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus which causes lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Sadly, she had to be put to sleep two days later, TeamDogs reports.
Recalling the horrific ordeal, Sarah told Dogs Trust: “The environment the puppies were in just wasn’t sitting well with us, there were so many things that weren’t right. We just wanted to do our best for her and take her away from there, get her vaccinated and give her a good home.
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“When the vet finally called to say she probably wouldn’t last the night, we decided we had to put her to sleep. We just couldn’t let her suffer any more. It’s just so painful to think about our puppy going through so much pain.
"How could anyone let this happen to something so small? It ruined our Christmas and it has been gut-wrenching every time we have seen another dog out on a walk.
“We did our research and when we responded to the advert, we thought we would be getting a healthy, well-bred dog from a happy home. Now we have nothing left but a horrible story. We just want to help stop anyone else going through this heartache.”
Thousands of UK dog lovers have fallen victim to ‘dogfishing’ after paying out for a new puppy.
Dogs Trust have revealed more than 2,000 dog owners have been conned into buying a puppy which was illegally imported into the country.
They say sellers, who usually operate online, often falsify paperwork, offer discounts for a quick trade and lie about a dog’s age and breed just to speed up the sale.
The Dogs Trust uses the term ‘dogfishing’ to describe a person who has been conned into thinking they are getting a happy, healthy puppy to join their family.
The illegally-smuggled puppies are often kept in terrible conditions including being locked in a small cage and being kept away from their mums.
Some suffer from sickness, diarrhoea and anxiety, while others have serious health conditions or lifelong behavioural challenges, all of which were not declared on the initial advert.
New owners are often faced with huge vet bills in an attempt to help their new dog back to full health. They average £500, according to the Dogs Trust.
However, some owners have to make the heartbreaking decision to put their pet down to save them from suffering.
To avoid dogfishers, Dogs Trust says you should:
Request to see the pup with its mother and siblings
Make sure to visit more than once
Check the necessary paperwork very carefully including the puppy contract which has lots of information about the puppies parents, breed, health and diet.
Ask lots of questions
If you feel like you’re being pressured to buy the puppy or have any doubts as to the integrity of the seller, get out of there and report them to Trading Standards
For more information about the Don’t Be Dogfished campaign and advice on how to avoid being misled when buying a puppy online, click here.
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