The animal welfare charity urges people to walk away from online ads which look “too good to be true”.
Potential new puppy owners are being asked to think twice before shopping online for a new pet this Christmas.
The Dogs Trust warns of an increasing trend in searching online for the ideal dog, which has led to a rise in puppy smugglers.
The animal welfare charity blames the surge in demand for furries by pet-loving families during the pandemic and weak criminal penalties.
It has reported a 60% increase in the number of pregnant dogs and puppies seized at UK borders since 2021
Paula Boyden, veterinary director at the Dogs Trust, said: “It’s very easy, especially when you’re looking for a puppy, to make decisions with your heart. This is precisely the trap that smugglers would like you to fall for. “
“Unknowingly purchasing a smuggled dog could lead to serious consequences. You might not be able to import the puppy legally or it could have serious health problems that you aren’t aware of until much too late. “
Dogs can travel thousands of miles in cramped, dirty conditions, with little food and water, and then sold online, according to the charity.
The most commonly seized breeds in the UK are: Dachshunds and Pomeranians.
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More than 2,000 puppies have been seized at the UK border since 2015 with an estimated equivalent market value of PS3m.
And over 130 pregnant dogs have been seized since 2017, bearing around 600 puppies.
The cost-of-living crisis has put pressure on animal welfare organizations.
The Dogs Trust says pet owners are increasingly unable to afford their animals. It was recently announced that owners have been asking about the possibility of rehoming their pets.
The charity doesn’t recommend that people purchase a dog for Christmas but offers these Do’s and Don’ts :
* Do ask to see mum and pup together
* Do visit your new pup more than once
* Do get all your pup’s paperwork before going home
* Do check that the pup is at a legal age to be separated from their mum (over eight weeks old)
* Do walk away if you’re at all unsure
* Do report all suspicious sellers or breeders to Trading Standards
* Don’t meet anywhere that isn’t the pup’s home
* Don’t buy a pup from anyone who can supply various breeds on demand
* Don’t pay anything until you have met the pup in person
* Don’t feel pressure to buy a puppy