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Scam Awareness Week: Puppy Scams

The pandemic saw many people staying home and welcoming a furry companion into their lives to help deal with the loneliness and isolation.  Here at Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, we saw a large number of companion animals find loving homes during lockdown. However, many people fell victim to puppy scams. This week, November 8-12, is Scams Awareness Week and Companion Animal Network Australia (CANA), whom SDCH is the NSW member, have partnered up with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to raise awareness around puppy scams.

Puppy scams can cause a lot of heartbreak and anger and unwittingly involved legitimate businesses in Australia. According to ACCC Scamwatch, Australians have lost nearly $300k to puppy scams last year alone, taking advantage of people who have suffered due to the pandemic. Scamwatch reported a spike in puppy scams almost five times higher than the average last year.

This year, ACCC Scam is encouraging all Australians to talk about scams to increase awareness, educate and empower consumers to protect themselves. “During Scams Awareness Week 2021, we encourage pet lovers to talk about puppy scams and learn how to avoid the heartbreak, loss of money and in some cases, potentially having to surrender their pet to the shelter,” said Trish Ennis, National Executive of CANA.

If you are looking to welcome a new pet into your life and want to avoid falling victim to puppy scams, CANA have put together tips to keep in mind:

  • Scammers set up fake websites or ads on online classifieds and social media pretending to sell sought-after dog breeds. Email is the only way to contact them.
  • Scammers take advantage of travel restrictions that prevent you from travelling to meet the puppy in person. They normally ask for up-front payments via money transfer to pay for the pet and transport it to you.
  • Once you pay the deposit, a scammer will find new ways to ask for more money, such as claiming higher transportation costs to get across interstate borders. Unfortunately, once you make the payments, the seller will cease all contact.
  • Scam websites can look quite convincing – try not to fall for the adorable puppy pictures they post. To avoid being scammed, only buy or adopt a pet you can meet in person.
  • If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Research the seller online using the exact wording in the ad and do a reverse image search for pictures of the specific puppy to see if you can find matching images or text on multiple websites.
  • If you are in doubt, seek advice from a reputable dog breeders association, veterinarian or local animal shelter.
  • For tips to avoid fake websites and a list of fraudulent websites, click here.
  • For a guaranteed ‘real pet’ to welcome into your family, contact a CANA member in your state here.

If you think you have been scammed, contact your financial institution right away. For more information, visit

If you’re looking for a guaranteed safe way to welcome a new pet into your home, check out the animals looking for a home on our website.

Little Gilbert’s Big Surgery

Young Gilbert has a face that would make anybody swoon! This Terrier-x boy is curious, friendly and loves playing with toys, thrashing and trashing them around until his heart is content.

At just six months old, Gilbert arrived at the home with an Angular Limb Deformity (ALD) of his front two legs. ALD causes a pair of bones to not grow in synchrony which results in twisting and bending. It can be caused by injury to the legs at a young age, but commonly it is hereditary.

For Gilbert, both his front legs and toes were pointed outwards. He may have looked like a cute little ballerina, but his legs were causing lameness and discomfort. ALD is quite a complex problem in veterinary orthopaedics, so we arranged for Gilbert to have specialist surgery to give him the best possible outcome.

Gilbert has been recovering from his surgery like a champ in foster care, where he receives monitoring and treatment to ensure he is healing properly. His foster carers tell us he’s a very quiet little man who loves human company and enjoys snoozing and going on short walks while he heals.

Gilbert is now looking for the perfect forever home, where his joints can be monitored with regular vet checks. While Gilbert’s orthopaedic surgery was successful and he’s moving comfortably, there’s a chance he may experience lameness once he’s fully grown, requiring costly surgical intervention. To be a perfect match, his new family will need to commit to giving Gilbert vet care if he needs treatment in future.


Updated 8 November 2021