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Paw patrol: 10 things to look out for so you don’t get conned by a puppy breeder

Pc Hannah Haywood, North East police Division's Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer

Dog and puppy sales are increasing but so are opportunities for scammers to rip you off, a north-east wildlife cop warned today.

Pc Hannah Haywood, wildlife crime liaison officer, has revealed the 10 signs that people should look out for if they want to buy or rehome a dog or puppy.

She said: “With a sharp increase in people working from home or being furloughed has come an increase in people buying a dog or a puppy during Covid-19 lockdown.

“Sadly, it has also led to an increase in people paying for animals that do not exist.

“It is incredible just how much effort scammers will put into an advert simply to make you believe it’s genuine, using adorable photographs of puppies or dogs urgently needing rehomed, designed purely to lure you in and tug at the heartstrings.

“They may refuse to be seen at their premises and most will offer to arrange to “courier” the dog to your home for a small fee, which must be paid upfront and will also cover “transfer of ownership papers”.

“Often they will insist on payment via Amazon/iTunes vouchers or bank transfer, completed straight away, which offer no protection to buyers.

“These asks should all be treated as red flags.

“The internet is a great way to carry out research into breeds, breeders and rescue centres, but you must always back this up with a visit to the breeder’s home or centre before you hand over any money.

“A responsible breeder, or genuine seller, will be happy to chat and educate potential buyers on the breed that they are selling.

“They will take steps to ensure that their puppies are going to a forever home, and will be more than happy to have you attend at their home address to see the puppies in their home environment and ask questions about their health and care.”

Ten warning signs to look out for

  • The seller doesn’t ask any questions about you and is only interested in the price
  • The seller insists on payment in Amazon, Itunes vouchers or anonymous bank transfer
  • The seller will only deliver the animal to you or meet you halfway
  • They don’t want you to attend at their address nor will they disclose it
  • They cannot provide evidence of the puppy interacting with its mother
  • Fake looking, or stock photographs
  • A seller who insists on payment for transfer of ownership papers
  • They only want to communicate via email not telephone
  • A seller who is rushing or putting pressure on the sale
  • Offering for sale puppies younger than eight weeks old

“One of the reasons why scammers are so successful is because there is so much emotion involved,” said Hannah. “They use well-selected photographs and convince buyers that they are the best person for the puppy.

“You wouldn’t purchase a new car or new house without going to see it first, so why purchase a new member of your family without ensuring that they are genuine first?

“Don’t just rush for a dog just because it’s cute and fluffy – visit the seller and see the dog in their home environment.

“Take your time, carry out research and don’t rush into anything just because it’s available right now.

“Wait for one that suits your family’s needs.”



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