Animal Welfare Organisations Unite to Protect the Public from Dodgy Pet Sellers


  • 1,000 new adverts for pets appear online every day in the UK
  • 37% of people admit to doing no research before purchase
  • Over 10% of people reported their pet became unwell after purchase, and nearly 20% had to pay unexpected vet bills

A new advisory website has been launched to help the British public buy a healthy pet, and to clamp down on online adverts from unscrupulous, and often criminal, pet sellers.

The UK’s top animal welfare organisations, veterinary and industry bodies have come together to stop Britain’s animal lovers being duped into buying pets advertised online by dodgy pet sellers.

A coalition group of top animal welfare organisations, veterinary and industry bodies have launched as the definitive guide to help equip the public with the knowledge to buy a pet responsibly

The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG), a group comprising of the country’s top welfare organisations, trade associations and veterinary bodies – including Dogs Trust, PDSA, British Veterinary Association, Cats Protection, City of London Trading Standards, Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association, RSPCA and Scottish SPCA – are uniting against online adverts from unscrupulous, and often criminal, pet sellers who make a good living pedaling pets that are often sick, underage or have been illegally imported into the UK.

PAAG’s latest research* into the British public’s pet purchasing behaviour has found that 37% of people admitted they did no research before buying, and, with 1,000 new online pet adverts appearing every day**, the group has launched a new advisory website – – to arm the public with the knowledge to spot an untrustworthy ad or scam, and the confidence to ask the right questions to ensure they are dealing with a responsible seller. is the definitive source of advice and information for the public – directly from some of the UK’s most respected welfare animal organisations, industry bodies and experts – and focuses on the research prospective owners should do before they buy, and what they can expect from pet ownership. It will be updated regularly with scams to be aware of and will provide a place for anyone to confidentially report suspicious websites or traders.

Since it was formed in 2001, PAAG has been working tirelessly to tackle the thousands of underhand online animal sellers.

Survey results showed that nearly half of the British public admitted to being unaware that regulations for the buying and selling of animals online even existed, or that commercial pet sellers are now required by law to be inspected and licensed by their Local Authority. PAAG experts fear that the issues we are seeing now are just the tip of the iceberg, and it has become far too easy for Britain’s animal lovers to be deceived.

Chair of PAAG, the group behind, Paula Boyden***, says:

“We’re a nation of animal lovers, making us an easy target for unscrupulous sellers. Our research has found that we live in a click-first society where people will often head to online adverts for a pet because they can choose based on the best price, nearest location and how quickly they can get the animal they want. They are inundated with cute pictures and great offers which are very difficult to turn down. But, as we’ve seen time and time again, when an advert seems too good to be true it probably is.

“Many of these sellers are underhand, putting profit before welfare. The public – who have the best intentions and want to give an animal a loving home – are not at fault; is designed to protect them; to help stop people becoming a victim of a scam and to eliminate their chance of ending up with a sick pet, huge veterinary bills and heartbreak. We want our website to become the first step in their journey to getting a happy, healthy pet.”

The website also tells people what they should expect when they visit their new pet for the first time.

Alongside its public advice, PAAG is continuing its work with a number of classified websites including Gumtree, Pets4Homes and PreLoved to remove illegal adverts, and is pushing for all websites to commit to a set of minimum guidelines which all of their animal adverts should adhere to, ensuring all pets being advertised are done so legally and ethically.

Paula continues:

“We want the day to come when people are confident regarding the authenticity of an advert or seller. We are working hard today, to ensure the pet owners of tomorrow can buy a happy, healthy pet knowing it has been bred responsibly and the person they are buying from can be trusted.

“We would always encourage people to look at rehoming a rescue animal, but if you do decide to buy from a breeder, make sure you do your research to ensure you’re buying from a trustworthy source.”

If anyone spots a suspicious or illegal advert and wants to know what to do, please visit