Prospective pet owners warned against buying from unscrupulous breeders amid rise in demand since lockdown
A new campaign is warning prospective pet owners against unknowingly buying puppies, kittens, cats and dogs from unscrupulous sellers amid a rise in demand for pets since lockdown.
An open letter, signed by celebrities including Kirsty Gallacher, Paul O’Grady, Amanda Holden and David Gandy, 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 online before buying.
These warnings follow continued demand for pets since lockdown eased, with online marketplace Preloved reporting that the number of pet listing has increased by nearly 50% since March.
They are anticipating a further boom in adverts throughout the summer.
Pets4Homes has also said that they are experiencing not only a six-fold increase in new user accounts, but an average of 155 views per new pet advert.
Both Preloved and Pets4Homes are supporting the government’s Petfished campaign, which urges people to stop and ask: ‘Who’s the person behind the pet?’.
Despite a huge 125% increase in adverts posted across online marketplaces during lockdown for puppies, kittens, dogs and cats, demand continues to outstrip supply. However, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) has advised that vets are dealing with ongoing cases where owners have been sold sick puppies and kittens by unscrupulous dealers as a result of new owners not researching sellers before buying their new pet.
UK 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.”
TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher, who has two dogs, British bull dog Betsy and French bull dog Bertie, said:
“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.”
The letter, also signed by former international rugby players Chris Robshaw and Sam Warburton, is part of the government’s ‘Petfished’ campaign - a play on ‘catfishing’, where a stranger creates a fictional online persona to lure someone into a relationship - deceitful pet sellers use a similar tactic to ‘Petfish’ unsuspecting buyers.
In England, the introduction of Lucy’s Law means it is now illegal to sell a kitten or puppy you haven’t bred.
The Welsh Government is currently consulting on proposals</a> to introduce a ban on commercial third party sales of puppies and kittens.
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