How you can avoid being fooled by unscrupulous online puppy dealers

If you are thinking about getting a dog, animal charities would be incredibly grateful if you would consider rehoming one of theirs.
They have lovely dogs in need of good homes and would give you all the support and information you need to be a successful, happy dog owner.
However, if you are aiming to buy a puppy, take note that the RSPCA says that a shocking 87 per cent of their puppy-trade calls are about animals bought over the internet.
To avoid being fooled by unprincipled sellers who use the internet to advertise and sell farmed puppies, take heed of this advice from the RSPCA on how to spot their ads.
Look for these tell-tale signs:
Same contact number on more than one advert – try searching for the number in a search engine to find out if it has been used on other puppy adverts;
Descriptions may have been copied and pasted and used on more than one ad. Again, use a search engine to check if the text has been used before, word-for-word;
Words like ‘miniature’ and ‘teacup’ can be a sign of dealers who are capitalising on cute, popular terms;
Photos of the puppies may have been used on other adverts – right click on the photo, select the ‘search for image’ function with your search engine and see if it has been used on other ads;
‘Vaccinated early’. If the advert says a puppy is vaccinated, check how old he or she is. A puppy cannot be vaccinated before they are four- to six-weeks old. If someone is advertising a three-week-old vaccinated puppy, they are lying;
Pet passport. If the puppy is advertised as having a passport, it has probably been imported;
Are they really Kennel Club registered? Ask for original documents and check with the Kennel Club before buying;
Promises of ‘free insurance’ and ‘puppy packs’ don’t always mean the advert is from a legitimate breeder.
If you see a suspicious advert, report it to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.
For further information, visit the charity’s Puppy Trade Campaign online at

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