Dogs Trust is warning dog lovers in Ballymena about a cruel ‘Dogfishing’ scam that is touring the UK.
A new ‘Don’t Be Dogfished’ campaign by the dog charity, whose Northern Ireland rehoming centre is based in Ballymena, aims to help prevent prospective owners here from being misled into buying dogs that may not be what they seem.
Shocking new statistics released by Dogs Trust reveal how unsuspecting dog lovers in Ballymena and the wider province may have been conned or ‘dogfished’ into buying puppies illegally imported into the UK, leaving them both heartbroken and out-of-pocket.
The Dogs Trust 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.
Just under one in five puppy buyers in Northern Ireland suspect they were lied to by the seller of their puppy, according to the charity.
Over half (56%) of puppy buyers polled in the region were not allowed to see the puppy more than once while 44% were not allowed to see the puppy with their mum – two signs, according to Dogs Trust, that all might not be what it seems.
The charity also revealed that ‘a worrying number of buyers’ who were not allowed to see the puppy at the seller’s home (19%) also revealed they were asked to collect their puppy in a carpark or layby.
Just under a third (30%) said they had concerns, related to health or behaviour, about their puppy within just a few weeks of buying them.
Catherine Gillie, Regional Manager at Dogs Trust, said: “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.”
The Don’t Be Dogfished campaign is asking potential new owners to take the following steps to avoid being misled when buying a puppy: Always see puppy and mum together at their home and make sure to visit more than once; Ask lots of questions and make sure you see all vital paperwork, such as a puppy contract – which gives lots of information about their parents, breed, health, diet, the puppy’s experiences and more.