New statistics released by the Dog’s Trust show that 54 per cent of puppy buyers in the West Midlands were not allowed to see the puppy more than once while almost half were not allowed to see the puppy with their mum – two signs that all might not be what it seems.
Nearly 20 per cent of puppy buyers say they suspect they were lied to by the seller of their puppy.
The charity polled over 2,000 puppy owners to see how many buyers might have fallen victim to illegal puppy smuggling, where puppies are brought into the UK from central and eastern European countries to sell on for vast profits.
Many described how sellers falsified paperwork, offered discounts for a quick sale or lied about the age and breed of the dog.
To help prevent prospective owners from being misled into buying dogs that may not be what they seem, Dogs Trust has today launched a new campaign called ‘Don’t Be Dogfished’.
A total of 19 per cent were told they were not allowed to see the puppy at the seller’s home, and others revealed they were asked to collect their puppy in a car park or layby.
Some reported terrible conditions where their puppies were locked in a small cage away from mum, were so sick they very nearly died, or were scared of their own shadow and very wary of humans.
One in five puppy buyers polled in the region said within their first year their puppy had developed significant health or behaviour problems, such as diarrhoea and anxiety, causing terrible suffering for their beloved pet whilst costing them on average almost £500 in additional vet bills.
Some of those people even said their puppy had either died or had to be put to sleep, due to the severity of their condition.
Jack Johnstone, regional manager for the West Midlands at Dogs Trust, said: “Today we’re launching a campaign 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 are touring the country in a van like those used by puppy smugglers 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.”