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Potential Pet Owners Urged To Tread With Caution Before Buying

Published on Tuesday 24 November 2020

Trading standards officers are urging Derbyshire residents thinking of buying a pet online to be extra cautious and do their research after receiving dozens of complaints.

Derbyshire County Council’s trading standards are concerned that people are falling foul of unscrupulous traders selling sick puppies and kittens often too young to leave their mothers or puppies that don’t exist at all.

The warning has been issued following a rise in demand for puppies and kittens during the first national lockdown, continuing into the second lockdown and projected to continue in the run up to Christmas.

People should be on alert for potential scams around the sale of puppies online which are on the increase and harder to spot due to current covid-19 restrictions making it more difficult to check out legitimate breeders or visit sellers in their homes.

In Derbyshire between 23 March and 31 October this year there have been 36 complaints to trading standards relating to the sale of puppies, compared to 28 complaints for the same period last year. 

Complaints include scams where people have seen an advert or a picture, paid a deposit and then not received their puppy, and puppies becoming extremely ill within days of purchase. Other complaints were about unlicensed breeders, puppies being brought into the country without the required paperwork or injections or being mis-sold as they were not as described.

It is estimated that these complaints have led to Derbyshire residents being £36,000 out of pocket and does not take into account subsequent vets bills or enforced quarantine fees.

Potential buyers are being urged to be aware of Lucy’s Law, introduced in April 2020 which bans third-party sales of puppies and kittens in England and means that anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten must deal directly with the breeder or with a reputable rehoming centre.

Lucy’s Law was highlighted in a government campaign earlier this year which urged people to stop and ask themselves who the person is behind the pet before they commit to buy.

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart said: “Online sales of pets, mainly puppies and kittens, has risen hugely this year, mainly during lockdown, and with that rise has come some serious issues around animal welfare, illegal trading and scams.

“The laws are there to protect animals and consumers and it’s so important that people know the potential pitfalls before parting with any money.

“In some cases potential pet owners are buying very expensive puppies or kittens that are sometimes very sick having been sold by disreputable sellers, and in other cases they are being tricked out of their money for animals that don’t even exist.

“Such underhand and illegal practices are leaving people out of pocket and in many cases causing huge distress and anxiety to would-be new pet owners, as well as putting the welfare of very young animals at risk.”

To find out more about Lucy’s Law go to

People considering buying a pet are also urged to read the Government’s step-by-step guide to buying a pet 

If importing a pet, people can find out more by going to

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