Charity warns of illegal dogs for sale online, as fifth of north west pup buyers reveal they collected their dog from a car park or layby

Almost a fifth of people in the north west who have bought a puppy were asked to collect their dog in a carpark or at the roadside, according to shocking new figures, raising fears that many puppies are being illegally trafficked into the country.

By Phil Cunnington
Friday, 17th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 2:22 pm

The figures, from Dogs Trust, also reveal that more than half (56 per cent) of puppy buyers in the region were not allowed to see the puppy more than once, while 46 per cent were not allowed to see the puppy with their mum – two signs that all might not be what it seems, according to the charity.

A number of buyers who were not allowed to see the puppy at the seller’s home (19 per cent) also revealed they were asked to collect their puppy in a car park or layby – something Dogs Trust says no breeder with care for the welfare of the puppies would do.

Meanwhile, 13 per cent of puppy buyers in the region said their seller lied to them about the dog they were buying, rising to more than a fifth (21 per cent) among those who bought via online adverts, lying about things such as the age, breed and whether they had been vaccinated and microchipped.

Emma Armitage with Rottweiler pup Fil, who was illegally smuggled into the country from Lithuania. Dogs Trust is launching a campaign ro warn people of the dangers of buying a puppy online

More than one quarter said they had concerns, related to health or behaviour, about their puppy within just a few weeks of buying them.

Dogs Trust is now launching a campaign warning dog lovers of deceitful puppy sellers online.

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;

Dogs Trust reconstruction of the conditions in which puppies can be smuggled into the country

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;

If you have any doubts or feel pressured to buy, as hard as it may be, walk away and report the seller.

Jack Johnstone, regional manager at Dogs Trust, said: “We’re launching a campaign warning people ‘Don’t be dogfished’ – to help stop people being duped into buying puppies that have been illegally imported into the country by devious dealers.

“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 want to educate the public on the shocking realities of the puppy smuggling trade and advise 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.”

For more information about the Don’t Be Dogfished campaign, and advice about how to avoid being misled when buying a puppy advertised online, search ‘Dogfished’ or visit

'My pup's horrendous start will affect the rest of his life'

Emma Armitage adopted smuggled Rottweiler puppy Fil, who was illegally imported from Lithuania. Fil had health problems resulting from not having been vaccinated, he was malnourished, has had stomach and digestive problems and Emma has now discovered that he has hip dysplasia, which will need managing for the rest of his life.

Emma said: “Fil is a fantastic dog but sadly because of the horrendous start in life he had he does have health issues.

"I adopted him from Dogs Trust Manchester so I was fully informed about his background, but people tempted to buy online could be being duped into buying poorly pups, some so poorly that they might die within hours of someone taking them home, which is heart breaking.

"I would strongly encourage people to never buy a dog online, not least as you could be unknowingly supporting the horrific puppy smuggling trade.”