New scam illegal puppy farmers are using to trick people into buying sick dogs

Animal charity USPCA are warning potential adopters to be wary around puppy breeders as latest scamming tactic tries to earn your trust by claiming to demand home checks

Puppy farmers are scamming people with new tricks

A warning has been issued to potential puppy parents in Northern Ireland following multiple reports of a new scam.

The USPCA’s Special Investigations Unit has noted several illegal puppy farmers using the same tactic to sell sick and ill-bred pups.

Sellers are demanding that home checks be carried out to ensure the new home is ‘suitable’ – but do not follow through with them at the time of sale.

Buyers are also being asked to place cash in an envelope which is then handed over on the doorstep.

Sellers are also wearing hats and facemasks to make their identification more difficult.

Sellers are asking for home checks to try and gain your trust


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The warnings come after a series of reports have been made to the USPCA in recent weeks, occurring in areas across County Antrim, including Templepatrick, Belfast, Tullycarnet and Carrickfergus.

Puppies have included shih tzus, Pomeranians and some designer breeds such as chorkies and cockapoos.

USPCA animal care manager, Deirdre McArdle, said: “These individuals are continually adapting their operations in order to dupe unsuspecting members of the public.

“Over the past two years they have used the excuse of Covid to stop buyers viewing where the pup has been born and bred – and now we see them using the ploy of ‘home checks’ in a bid to gain the buyer’s trust.

“Illegal puppy farmers and dealers will do anything in order to appear as a legitimate seller – in this case the majority of adverts are stating that the pups come from ‘loving family homes’ and are fully wormed and vaccinated however no proof is presented during the dirty.

Multiple reports have been made after people bought ill puppies


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“Unfortunately for the buyers involved in these cases, a trip to the vet has revealed that the pups are very poorly – malnourished and many weeks younger than stated by the seller.

“In fact, in some cases, the pups have also been sold as the wrong gender.

“A puppy farmer’s only interest is how they can make a quick buck to the detriment of an animal’s wellbeing – unfortunately many of these cases can have a terrible outcome.

“These reports also give us cause for concern regarding the safety of the buyer – although no threats or intimidation have been involved in the reported cases, we are urging members of the public to be vigilant against this new method of operation, for their own safety and the poor animals who are mercilessly bred for profit.

“Although these incidents have taken place in the County Antrim area, it is highly likely that the sellers are operating throughout the region.”

The charity is concerned about the safety of buyers


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The USPCA are encouraging animal lovers to not fall victim to illegal puppy farmers, and instead consider rehoming a pet from a local animal rescue.

If you do decide to adopt a new puppy, you should always see a pup with its mother and litter, and never buy from a car boot, back of a van or market stall.

The USPCA says you should ask if the person is a registered commercial breeder and record the number from the Local Authority Registration document.

You should also inquire about the pup’s health status, including worming and parasites, and obtain a proper receipt.

If you have any information on suspicious puppy farming activity, you can contact the USPCA Special Investigations Unit on 028 3025 1000 or online at

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