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Beware Puppy Scams Warn Trading Standards

Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service is warning to consumers to beware of puppy scams in the run up to Christmas.

Trading Standards Animal Health Officers have received reports of criminal gangs illegally smuggling puppies in to the UK to sell, puppies being stolen and sold on and consumers paying thousands of pounds to bogus online sellers for puppies that don’t exist.

The demand for puppies has led to prices doubling, with popular breeds selling for £3000 or more. This has also encouraged more puppy farming, where puppies are often bred in appalling conditions, increasing the risk of disease and ill health.

In April 2020 ‘Lucy’s Law’ was introduced, meaning that anyone wanting to get a new puppy (or kitten) in England must now buy direct from a breeder, or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead. Licensed dog breeders are required to show puppies interacting with their mothers in their place of birth. If a business sells puppies (or kittens) without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months. The new law seeks to tackle the low-welfare, high volume supply of puppies (and kittens), by banning their commercial third-party sale in England.

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“Demand for puppies has surged during lockdown, driving up prices and encouraging criminals to enter this marketplace. If you are considering buying a puppy, follow our top tips.”

  • Buy from a reputable and recommended dealer. Consider the Kennel Club Assured breeder scheme
  • Always view the puppy with its mother and siblings, where it has been bred
  • Ask to see the health test certificates for the puppy’s parents and the puppy’s vaccination documentation
  • Be prepared to wait for the puppy you want. Be very wary of anyone claiming they can provide the puppy you want quickly
  • Never pay for a puppy in advance. Many bogus breeders ‘sell’ puppies on social media where money is taken, but no puppy is ever delivered
  • Never agree to meet the seller anywhere other than where the puppy is kept, for example car parks, motorway service stations etc. Do not allow the seller to deliver the puppy to your home
  • Beware of anyone offering a puppy at a ‘too good to be true’ price
  • To report puppy scams, the illegal sale of puppies and obtain advice on your consumer rights, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133
  • For more information and advice about buying a puppy, visit:
  • Lucy’s Law Dog breeders can contact their local authority for more advice.
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