Vets, charities and animal-loving celebrities have penned and signed an open letter calling on the public to “research sellers thoroughly online before buying” amid a rise in demand for pets since lockdown.
The open letter – signed by celebrities including Kirsty Gallacher, Paul O’Grady, Amanda Holden and David Gandy, and supported by charities including Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the Blue Cross, Cats Protection, Dogs Trust and the RSPCA – reads, “Unscrupulous sellers pretend that the puppies, kittens, cats and dogs they’re selling come from a happy home.
“In reality, the animal may have been bred or kept in poor conditions. This can lead to underlying health problems, sometimes resulting in expensive vet bills, and in the worst cases, very sick animals have to be put down.
“This inhumane and illegal practice happens across the country and puts countless animals at risk. And as we continue to buy pets during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s possible more and more of our cats and dogs are being sold this way.”
These warnings follow continued demand for pets since lockdown eased, with online marketplace Preloved reporting that the number of pet listing has increased “by nearly 50 per cent since March”. They are anticipating a further boom in adverts throughout the summer.
Pets4Homes has also said that they are experiencing not only a six-fold increase in new user accounts, but “an average of 155 views per new pet advert”.
Perspective buyers are warned to remain vigilant, always research the seller before visiting, report suspicious adverts and “be prepared to walk away and report suspected cases of animal abuse to the RSCPA or, if witnesses, the police”.
“As pet lovers, we should take responsibility by always researching the seller before buying”
British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) President Ian Ramsey said, “Vets are continuing to see many owners who have been sold very sick puppies by unscrupulous dealers simply because new owners have not researched the seller before buying their pet.
“As a result, vets see first-hand the distress and upset this can cause owners. We would urge anyone thinking of buying a puppy or kitten to check their pet is coming from a responsible seller before making a decision to buy.”
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith added, “Following the introduction of Lucy’s Law earlier this year, everyone must now buy directly from breeders or consider adopting from rescue centres. So please look out for the warning signs and report any suspicious activity.”
TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher, who signed the letter, has two dogs, Betsy and Bertie. She says, “It’s shocking to hear the lengths deceitful sellers go to when selling pets and sadly this can mean animals come from low-welfare conditions with distressing consequences.”
“As pet lovers, we should take responsibility by always researching the seller before buying a new pet to ensure our four legged friends live happy and healthy lives.”
For advice on how to buy a puppy or a kitten without feeding the cruel industry of puppy farming, visit getyourpetsafely.gov.uk.