Most people will have heard the phrase “Cat-fishing”. This is when a stranger creates a fictional online persona to lure someone into a relationship. It’s led to tragic heartbreaks and even murder! MTV even have a TV SHOW about it!Deceitful pet sellers and traders use similar tactics and this has been dubbed “pet-fishing”.
What is pet-fishing?
Pet-fishing is when a deceitful pet seller pretends a pet you’re buying or adopting comes from a happy home or a proper and reputable rescue.In reality, the pet could have come from completely horrible conditions bred somewhere like a puppy farm where many poor defenceless animals die every year in cruel and abhorrent conditions.Buying or adopting a pet is an amazing and life changing experience, but do you really know where your new pet is coming from?It’s way more likely than you think that you’ll come across a deceitful seller. These people mistreat animals to make money. Something we at MyPet detest.These pets can come from truly traumatic circumstances leading to tragic consequences. Some can have severe health problems, others social & behavioural issues. Some may never have seen another dog, some may have been taken away from their mother far too young, some may have been mistreated and abused by the breeder.
Check out THIS video produced by Defra in the UK to hear real life stories. Just a warning. It is heartbreaking.These people mistreat and kill animals to make money. Please do your research before buying or adopting a pet!
If you suspect someone is a deceitful seller please report them to the RSPCA HERE or by calling 0300 1234 999! It doesn’t matter if you only suspect this, please report them! You might just save an animals life! (The RSPCA is based here in the UK, if reading this outside the UK check with your local authority who you can report animal abuse to.)
We wrote a number of weeks ago about Lucy’s Law HERE which means that anyone in England must now buy direct from a breeder or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead.
I’m thinking of buying a pet. What should I look for?
Before you contact the seller
- Check the animal is older than 8 weeks
Puppies and kittens should never be sold under the age of 8 weeks. Do some research and check what size the breed should be at that age.
- Be careful if the pet is advertised with a passport
If a pet is advertised as coming with a pet passport it may have been imported. Ensure you enquire as to why the pet has a pet passport! Puppies and kittens need to be at least 15 weeks old to travel from the EU and over 7 months from other unlisted countries!
- Search search search!
Check if this seller is selling lots of different breeds, if so this may mean they are a decietful seller. Try copying and pasting their mobile number into Google to see if any other adverts appear. If there is this is a red flag. Please report it to the RSPCA!
- Is the pets health information available?
Make sure you understand what medical treatment the pet has had. Does the advert have any information on if the pet has been socialised? If the advert doesn’t mention this, it’s imperative to ask when you contact the seller.
Contacting the seller
- Contact with the seller before visiting!
Once you’re comfortable that the pet seller looks reputable, make sure you ring before visiting. If they don’t provide a phone number, treat this as a red flag and report it to the RSPCA!
- No pressure!
A reputable pet seller will never pressure you to buy a pet. They won’t tell you that if you don’t decide tonight they will sell it to someone else, or that someone is coming in the next 30 minutes to look at the pets. If they try to rush the conversation and push you to buy quickly please look for a different seller and report them to the RSPCA.A responsible seller should be vetting you to ensure you give their pet a good home. They should be engaged asking you questions to assess your suitability at every meeting!
- Medical history and microchips!
Ensure you ask the following questions when first contacting the seller:
- Which vaccinations has the pet had?
- Which vaccines and booster are still required? When are they due?
- Has the pet been neutered?
- Does the animal or its parents have any health issues?
- Is the pet microchipped?
- Was there any medical tests carried out on the pet?
- Do the parents or the pet have any behavioural issues?
- How well socialised is the pet?
- Will the pet’s mum be present when I visit?
- Can I see where the pet was bred?
A good breeder will take time to answer all of these questions. Ensuring the pet goes to a good home is more important to them than the money they will make from the sale of the pet.
Visiting the seller!
- Don’t buy or adopt your pet on your first visit.
You should always meet the seller or person helping to re-home the dog at least once before the sale. If buying a puppy you should see the mother and other puppies at their home before agreeing to a sale.
- Only meet the pet in their home
Deceitful sellers often suggest meeting at a location that’s better for you such as your home, somewhere nearby or a halfway point. This is to avoid showing you the pets living condition. A good breeder will always ask you to come to their house.
- Ensure you pet the mother and the rest of the litter
Deceitful breeders and sellers will separate the puppy or kitten from their family. You should be able to see the animal interacting with their mother and siblings. You should be able to meet and handle the pet’s siblings! If you are given the chance to buy a pet without seeing the mother it where it was reared, this is a red flag and you should contact the RSPCA.
- Check for health or social issues.
Always check the pets are sociable and alert with bright eyes and no visible signs of health problems. They should not look nervous, scared, dirty or injured in any way.
- Pet records
If a breeder or seller claims the animal has been vaccinated and / or microchipped ask to see the record of this. You should get a medical booklet from the vet showing what vaccines the pet has been given as well as their microchip number. It is a legal requirement dogs are microchipped before a sale. Kittens might not be.Don’t believe a breeder that they’ve misplaced records or will post them to you. This is another red flag and you should not buy the pet. You should inform the RSPCA.If you’re buying a pedigree, make sure and ask for proof of pedigree. You should be given a copy of their registration certificate from either the Kennel Club or GCCF.
Adopting a pet!
If you’re adopting a pet here are a few other things to consider:
- Always choose a reputable rescue organisation.
If you are rescuing a dog or cat, you can start by checking if the rescue is a member of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes. You can check them out HERE.
- Check what the rescue knows about the pets background.
A reputable rescue should have found out as much as possible about the pets background. They should be able to give you as much information as possible in terms of health and / or behavioural issues.
- Prepare for home visits and an adoption contract
Rescues take re-homing an animal very seriously. You should be prepared to have the rescue conduct a home check to ensure your home is suitable. They will also ask you to agree to an adoption contract which may include check in’s to see how the pet is settling in, a clause stating if you need to re-home the animal again you must take it back to the rescue again.
Many rescues will charge an adoption fee to help cover their costs. This is normal. It is a red flag if a rescue doesn’t carry out some checks before rehoming the pet and wants an adoption fee quickly.
Remember:You can report any sellers or adopter who you think might be deceitful to the RSPCA Cruelty hotline on 0300 1234 999 or click HERE. (If outside the UK, check with your local authorities who to report animal abuse too.)
If you’ve just got a new pet you can register it on the MyPet Defra compliant microchip database. You can find more information HERE.
P.S you can see our full list of blog articles HERE.