What to do if you’ve bought an ill pet



Sadly, you are not alone and many other animal lovers have faced the trauma of having to take a sick animal to the vet just hours or days after buying it from a classified advert or pet shop.

It is important to keep a detailed record of your pet’s illnesses with dates and times of when they occurred. Ensure you obtain a full veterinary report. Similarly, take regular photos and if possible video footage that illustrate your animal’s condition. These records may be essential to show that your pet was ill when you bought it. If you have other pets ensure they are kept separate from your new animal until it is given a clean bill of health.

If you have bought a poorly pet from a person or shop you are covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979.  Live animals are classified as “goods”, so this Act is the best one which covers your rights as a consumer.  It’s important to remember that while you may have an emotional attachment to your pet, an unscrupulous breeder will not – so use this consumer legislation to your advantage.

Anyone who has already purchased a sick animal is advised to contact their local Trading Standards department.

Tell us about your experience

In order to assess the true extent of unethical or misleading pet advertising, PAAG would like to hear from people who have had a bad experience buying a pet from a classified advert. Please contact us by email with details of your experiences.

Please try to include as much of the information below in your email as possible. We know there are a lot of questions, but it helps if we know as much as possible about your situation.

PAAG would like to know of any inappropriate classified adverts both online and in print but unfortunately is not in a position to take action in every individual case. We would advise members of the public to report any advert they are concerned about to their local Trading Standards department. 

About you

  • Your name
  • Your email
  • Your phone number
  • Would you be happy to be contacted by PAAG?

About your pet

  • Animal type
  • Animal name
  • Animal’s age when bought
  • Animal’s physical condition when bought
  • Animal’s age at death (if applicable)

About the advert

  • Did you see an advert for your pet?
  • If so, where?
  • What did the advert say or show?
  • Did the newspaper/website/directory print any advice about choosing or caring for a pet?

About the sale

  • Date of purchase:
  • Venue of purchase
  • Vendor’s name
  • Vendor’s address
  • Did you buy the pet at your first meeting?
  • Did the vendor give you any health or vaccination records for the pet?

About your pet’s illness

  • How long after buying the pet did it first become ill?
  • Ailments suffered by pet, (include mental symptoms if applicable):
  • Action taken by owner (eg took pet to vet, took pet back to vendor etc)
  • Veterinary diagnosis:
  • Did the pet display any aggression towards people or other pets?

About your actions

  • Did you try to return your pet to vendor when you found it was ill?
  • If yes, what was their response?
  • If your pet died, did you take any legal action against the vendor?
  • If yes, what has happened to date?
  • Has the vendor been helpful in his/her dealings with you?