Five checks to run when viewing a litter for sale to reduce the chances of buying a stolen puppy
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Five checks to run when viewing a litter for sale to reduce the chances of buying a stolen puppy

Dogs
Health & Safety

Puppy theft is a very lucrative business given how much money pups are changing hands for at the moment, which means that if you want to buy a puppy you should undertake some basic checks to reduce the chances of buying from a dog thief.

This article will tell you five checks to run when viewing a litter to reduce the risk of buying a stolen puppy. Read on to learn more.

How does the seller come across?

A seller that doesn’t seem to have a clue about their litter, the breed of dogs, or other specifics is a huge red flag. This is almost always the case when it comes to stolen litters, and yet it flies under the radar a great deal of the time as very few puppy buyers (particularly at present when demand for dogs is so high) actually assess the seller properly to look for indications something is not right.

They might not know, for instance, that the breed has health tests advised, much less what they are; or they might try and bluff by telling you that the dogs have been tested but then being unable to show you the test results or even tell you what the test involved (like how the sample was taken or how the dog was assessed).

Most sellers or people showing stolen litters will accidentally contradict themselves or say things that are patently incorrect about the dogs of breed, and yet this too often goes unnoticed or not given the appropriate attention by puppy buyers either, due to the psychology of a transaction like this.

A person looking to buy a puppy automatically expects the breeder of the puppy to be an expert on it, and so, know the answers to things they’re asked and be right in what they say. So if you ask a seller a question and what they say contradicts what you know to be the case (such as something to do with breed health risks, or colours found within the breed) the average buyer instinctively thinks that the breeder must be right, and that what they themselves knew or thought they knew was incorrect.

Be aware of this and alert to the effect; if the breeder isn’t making sense, isn’t knowledgeable, or says something you know is wrong, listen to your instincts and double-check independently.

Also, be wary immediately of a seller who tells you either outright or implies that you’re too much work or taking up too much time when they could just sell to someone else who isn’t asking so many questions!

Does the dam clearly know and love the breeder/seller?

First up, if the dam is not right there with the litter, regardless of why you’re told this is, walk away and take steps to look into potential thefts of a litter like the one you just saw. Most stolen litters are taken without the dam, and an absent dam is a warning sign for many reasons.

Assuming the dam is there, watch carefully how she interacts with their breeder or seller. Does she look to them like a dog does to an owner, does she respond to her name, is she happy to see them, and does she trust them with the puppies?

A dam that seems confused or disengaged, or even defensive, might effectively be sending out an SOS that the person they’re with is not their actual owner.

Have you run a basic search for dogs of the type in question advertised as stolen?

Good practice both before and after viewing a litter is to run some basic online searches for litters of the same type that have been reported or advertised as stolen. Using basic Google search terms and also looking on sites like Dogs Lost are a couple of ways to ensure you’re not missing something obvious, and to give you some peace of mind.

Is the litter microchipped properly and does everything else add up?

Puppies must be microchipped from eight weeks old, and if this has not been done for pups of this age, this is a bad sign. Some breeders do wait a little later despite the law specifying eight weeks, so take this in context.

Does everything else add up too? If you’re thinking of proceeding with a sale, ask first to see any Kennel Club paperwork if the dogs are registered, ID for the seller, and generally, ensure everything adds up.

What should you do if you have any doubts?

If you have any doubts about the provenance of a litter, first up, don’t hand over any money and certainly don’t take a puppy. Also, don’t place yourself at risk; even if you are absolutely certain the litter is stolen (such as because you recognise the dam from publicity for a stolen dog) calling the seller out is likely to have the effect of potentially putting them into a fight or flight situation and also meaning that they (and the dogs) disappear before you can summon help.

Call the police in the first instance if you’re reasonably certain a crime has taken place; before you contact the legitimate owner (if you know of them) and it is best to leave this to the police too if possible.

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