NEARLY 20 per cent of local dog lovers believe they fell victim to a ‘dogfishing’ scam when buying their puppy.
Dogs Trust – which has a branch in Kenilworth – says many owners are accidentally buying pets which have been illegally smuggled into the country, often from central or Eastern Europe.
Across the West Midlands 17 per cent of puppy buyers suspect they were lied to by the seller of their puppy, and nearly 50 per cent were not allowed to see the puppy with their mum, or visit the dog more than once – which the charity says is often a sign something is wrong.
Nearly 20 per cent said they were not allowed to meet the breeder at home so instead were asked to meet in a car park or layby.
They also reported puppies being locked in a small cage away from their mum, puppies being so sick they ‘nearly died’ and others who were very fearful.
One in five puppy buyers said in the first year their puppy had developed health or behavioural problems causing suffering to their beloved pet and around £500 in vet bills. This is on top of the average £500 they had paid for the pup.
Some also said their puppy had either died or had to be put to sleep due to the severity of their condition.
Dogs Trust has launched a campaign urging people not to buy puppies which they suspect may have been illegally imported, and which signs to look out for.
A spokesman from Dogs Trust Kenilworth said: “We’re 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.
“This is why we want 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 to trading standards.”
The campaign urges potential owners to ensure they always see puppy and mum together at their home and visit more than once, people should also ask questions and check vital paperwork, such as a puppy contract – which gives lots of information about the dog’s parents, breed, health, diet and the puppy’s experiences.
Visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/dogfished for more information.