Prospective Owners Warned of Risks of Pandemic Pet Purchases

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Leading animal welfare charity Battersea is warning anyone considering getting a new pet of the potential risks of buying dogs and cats online after recently taking in a puppy sold under false pretences and a sickly kitten sold to an unsuspecting couple.

Three-month-old Rolo was brought to Battersea’s Old Windsor Centre when his owner discovered she had been duped into buying the wrong breed and promised a ‘trial period’ by the breeder – who then disappeared. Desperate for help, she contacted Battersea and the much-loved rescue charity has now found a new home for Rolo, with owners who had been looking for an energetic companion.

Battersea’s Head of Operations, Rob Young, said: “Rolo’s previous owner, who had never owned a dog, had been promised a housetrained Jack Russell puppy from the breeder she found online and reassured that she could take the pup on for a trial period before committing.

“When Rolo was dropped off at her house, it quickly became apparent that he wasn’t a Jack Russell but a Lurcher with bags of energy and no training in place. Despite trying for days to get hold of the breeder, the woman realised she’d been scammed and got in touch with us at Battersea to see if we could help.

“This was by far the most responsible decision under the circumstances and exactly what Battersea is here for. We know there might be thousands of owners out there struggling to cope with their pets and want to reassure them we’re not here to judge – we’re here to help. Taking your pet to a rescue centre like Battersea means they’ll be cared for, loved and have the best chance of finding the right new home.”

It’s not just puppy owners that are sadly learning the risks of buying a pet during a pandemic. Unscrupulous breeders are also misleading people looking for a kitten to love. Last month sickly kitten Morris was rushed to Battersea’s London centre at only nine weeks old with chronic diarrhoea and vomiting, after his owners had spent the first week with their new pet going back and forth to the vets and trying to get hold of the breeder to find out why they had been sold a clearly unwell animal. Battersea’s expert veterinary team provided round the clock care and fortunately it wasn’t too long before Morris recovered and was able to go to a new home.

Rob added: “At Battersea we would always encourage people to consider giving a rescue animal a second chance at love, but if you do decide to buy a pet, we urge you to do thorough research first to ensure you know what to look for, to avoid potential heartbreak down the line.”

Battersea has remained here for every dog and cat throughout the pandemic and the three centres in London, Berkshire and Kent remain open for those that need help.

If you can no longer care for your pet, please contact Battersea or your local rescue centre where help and advice is available. Visit to find out more.

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