How to avoid puppy and kitten scams

Author picture Jessica  - updated: 16/07/2020

What is a puppy or kitten scam?

There has been a surge in puppy and kitten adoption since coronavirus took grip in the United Kingdom. Sadly, some unscrupulous individuals have taken advantage of this using adopting scams. 

But don’t worry: it just takes a bit of extra homework and knowhow to protect yourself from being scammed. Here’s what to do.

Be cautious about the backstory

If you are buying from an unknown person and there is a tragic story behind the adoption, tread carefully.

This is a common tactic for scammers to use, and can be anything from the owner being sick and unable to look after the pet anymore, to the owner suddenly passing away. Before you make any emotional decisions, do a bit more homework.

Use legitimate adoption agencies, shelters and breeders

Only contact legitimate businesses that you can research, verify and communicate with, rather than individuals using online classified websites or social media. Ask for your breeder’s membership number with the official breeder associations and check out their legitimacy and presence on the net.

There are serious animal welfare concerns that come up from using unregulated sales platforms. But this is also an environment that scammers frequent by using fake or hacked user accounts and stolen pet photos.

The scammer’s plan is to request you wire money to transport the pet to you, claim the money and cease communication.

Meet before you agree to anything

Scammers might use social distancing as an excuse to not meet in person, or claim they need a payment to transport the pet across state borders. If you can’t meet in person, wait for the right opportunity at a later date.

Meet up with the pet and breeder a few times before you agree to adopt. Ask a lot of questions (the breeder will ask you many questions too) and check out the puppy or kitten’s temperament and health first by checking their eyes and ears. Only bring them home when they are healthy and you have fully reviewed all the official paperwork.

If you are using a breeder, have a look at how the pet interacts with it’s fellow siblings and pet parent. And make sure the breeder's property is clean and well-kept by having a good look around.

If in doubt, say no

It's a good idea to walk away if any of the following apply:

  • If you feel at all pressured by the seller.
  • If there are gaps in the information.
  • When the price is too good to be true.

Even fake websites can be very convincing. Try reverse image searching the pictures and website text on Google, and get in touch with official breeding associations if you feel at all suspicious.

Visit Citizen's Advice if you suspect you have been scammed