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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

Senior Pet Project: JoeJoe

JoeJoe the 9-year-old Australian Bulldog-x came to Sydney Dogs & Cats Home in early September as a lost dog. He was uncomfortably skinny and had an array of senior dog health issues that needed urgent attention, including skin masses, alopecia (hair loss), arthritis, hip dysplasia, dental disease, eye discharge and a dark spot on the cornea of his left eye.

JoeJoe was given medication to soothe his discomfort while a plan for his treatment was devised. Due to his size and the number of his health concerns, JoeJoe’s treatment was divided into stages to ensure the best outcome and least discomfort. A few weeks ago, he received initial surgery for his dental disease, where a number of teeth had to be extracted. He had x-rays on his hips and his skin masses were removed and tested.

Test results showed JoeJoe’s skin masses were symptoms of skin cancer and a disease related to sun exposure. Because JoeJoe is a light-coloured dog, he is more susceptible to sun-related damage. The poor gentleman had an aggressive skin cancer on his scrotum, so he will need further surgery to remove the scrotum and prevent recurrence. His x-rays also brought concerning news – he has hip dysplasia in both hips and degenerative joint disease of the spine. Fortunately, dogs with these conditions can live comfortably for many years with proper care and pain management.

Soon, JoeJoe will receive his second stage of treatment, including another round of dental surgery, scrotum removal and assessment of his eyes and joints. The discharge and dark spot on his eyes don’t seem to bother him too much, but depending on his diagnosis, he may need to see an ophthalmologist to ensure he retains vision and comfort.

Despite his compiling list of health concerns, JoeJoe is a super sweet and friendly dog who loves greeting everyone, showing off his tricks for treats and going on walks. He just likes being around people!

Once JoeJoe is in tip-top shape, he will be looking for a home where he can live his best life and give his humans all his love and affection. JoeJoe does require a little extra TLC, but we’re confident this senior sweetheart is well worth it!

Since JoeJoe is a golden oldie, his vet costs are covered by donations to the Senior Pet Project, which had outstanding support from our community this year. If you would like to help senior dogs like JoeJoe, consider making a donation to the Senior Pet Project today.

Updated 8 November 2021

Return & Earn Hero Vaughn

After raising $500 for Sydney Dogs & Cats Home in 2020 through Return & Earn and community donations, 13-year-old Vaughn hoped to double his fundraising efforts in 2021 to $1,000. Thanks to the ongoing support of friends, family and the South Sydney community, Vaughn was shocked to raise a total of $2,000.10 for Sydney’s lost and abandoned pets between February and October this year.

Last year Vaughn’s fundraising drive earned the attention of local media and public figures who labelled him a ‘local legend’, so many local businesses and neighbours were keen to chip in to help him reach his 2021 target. In total, Vaughn collected $789.90 in monetary donations and 10,101 recyclable drink containers. When returned at Reverse Vending Machines for 10c per container, this raised an additional $1,210.20!

Vaughn told us he’s grateful for his friends, family, businesses and local government who helped make his fundraiser such a success.

“Bunnings donated two bins and my sister and friends did a letterbox drop,” he said.

“The man who owns my local IGA donated $500 which was amazing! My local MP Mark Coure kept advertising my fundraiser and my mum’s friend Sophie Cotsis MP also came and donated. We had both sides of government supporting me.”

Vaughn’s friends and family helped him spread awareness and collect bottles, with his Uncle Pete and cousins ‘the biggest heroes’, transporting containers in their ute to Reverse Vending Machines. Vaughn also wants to acknowledge his amazing friends who donated drink containers, including Aaron, Alana, Anthony, Charlie, Archie, Victoria, John, Arthur, Noah, Sarah and Matthew.

While Covid tried to put a dampener on Vaughn’s collection efforts, closing Return & Earn Reverse Vending Machines across Sydney, Vaughn’s fundraiser persisted throughout lockdown. Vaughn extended the deadline to mid-October, and thanks to all his previous promotions around the community, bottles and cans continued to accumulate on his family’s front yard.

Vaughn said one of the highlights of this year’s fundraiser was getting to know more people, especially his neighbours.

Previously Vaughn had hoped to double his fundraising goal each year, but having smashed this year’s target, he’s got a new plan: “I don’t want to have a goal next year; I just want to see how much we raise.”

Vaughn’s 2021 fundraiser is another enormous effort from Vaughn, whose fundraising will go towards the continual efforts of taking care of Sydney’s lost, abandoned and neglected pets.


Published 29 October 2021

Huckleberry Blossoms After Surgery

At first glance, Huckleberry looks a little rough and scary, but this distinguished gentleman is anything but! Huckleberry came to Sydney Dogs & Cats Home early September malnourished with patches of missing fur and scabs and lesions on his skin. After a vet check, we discovered his teeth were in bad shape, making it difficult for him to groom himself, and he was positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

Huckleberry reminded the SDCH team of a recent resident Trifle, whose similarities were freakishly alike – strong but sweet personalities, similar boofy appearance and almost identical health concerns. Despite his health challenges, Trifle found a home within weeks of his availability, so we have high hopes for Huckleberry. He’s a very special boy!

Huckleberry recently had dental surgery including teeth removal, and he is now far more comfortable and even sticks out his tongue – making him look even more handsome. Now that his teeth are sorted, he’s enjoying getting back to grooming and making his fur nice and healthy.

When Huckleberry first came to the Home, he was quite shy and made sure you knew when he was displeased with a little hiss and a paw-raise. He has been given a special spot in reception so he can get used to people. Huckleberry is now dishing out some solid headbutts, has become smoochie and social and has recently discovered the joys of playtime! As soon as our staff open his pod, he’s straight away at the front to say hello and enjoy a brushing.

Huckleberry is currently recovering from his dental surgery with the help of his Hill’s Pet Nutrition adult wet food, which is soft on his gums and helps him gain much-needed weight. His scabs and lesions have been healing well and don’t seem to be an issue. He is looking for a new home he can rule, where he can lazily watch the days go by and enjoy his humans’ company.

If you think Huckleberry is the cat for you, send an enquiry via his adoption profile.


Published 29 October 2021

Perfect Pooch Completes Young Family

A year and a half after Helle and her family adopted Ayla the Pug-x from Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, they decided it was time to add another rescue dog to the family. Helle immediately decided to go to Sydney Dogs & Cats Home since she had such a good experience with Ayla.

Meanwhile, Pablo the French Bulldog had been surrendered to Sydney Dogs & Cats Home due to no fault of his own. It was a rare occurrence to find an almost 2-year-old French Bulldog available for adoption from a shelter. When Helle saw Pablo on the Sydney Dogs & Cats Home website, she applied immediately, thinking her chances were slim since Pablo had become a very popular little man. She thought he was the perfect fit for her family as he was a similar size to Ayla, and she knew French Bulldogs are known for their placid temperament, which would suit her two young daughters.

Helle was invited for a meet and greet with Pablo at the shelter. Pablo loved Helle and her family. After the meet, they were thrilled to be able to take Pablo home. But it wasn’t quite smooth sailing from there. For the first few days, Ayla didn’t welcome Pablo with open arms, as was hoped. Ayla came to Sydney Dogs & Cats Home as a street dog and had a habit of resource guarding. Dogs sometimes guard their resources in order to convince other dogs and humans to stay away from toys, food or a particular place they’ve deemed as their own. Even humans can be resource guarded. Ayla’s past meant she had to constantly resource guard when she lived on the streets, and though she was thought to have left this behaviour behind, Pablo seemed to be a trigger.

Helle made the important decision to reach back out to Sydney Dogs & Cats Home and ask for assistance and a trainer was recommended. Helle really wanted Pablo to be part of the family, so they engaged a trainer, which helped the family recognise and respond to stressful scenarios for Alya. After five days, both dogs started getting along and playing together. The family even noted that Ayla was the one initiating play by bringing toys to Pablo. Helle told us, “Training has been a godsend. I wish everyone had to be forced through that type of thing; it’s been extremely helpful.”

Helle’s two young daughters have loved having Pablo in the family. He has taught them important lessons about responsibility and boundaries. Pablo gets along with kids extremely well. He is happy and friendly, plays with them constantly and even gets a sneaky bite of dog-safe food from them now and then. Pablo is very easy-going around Helle’s young girls, which she said is a teaching point for her daughters to learn that dogs aren’t toys and deserve respect and boundaries. But it appears Pablo enjoys playing so much he keeps coming back for more. “He’s a glutton for punishment and comes back and gets dressed up,” Helle said.

Helle said that adopting from the Home has allowed her family to give dogs in need a fresh start and a new home. She believes the choice to adopt instils in her daughter’s responsibility and compassion for animals in need. “The girls help me with making sure that they have water, and they help feed them in the morning,” she said. “And I think it’s one of those things that’s really, really good for kids to learn at a young age… It’s brought a lot more activity into our lives. If I wanted a third dog, I’d go back to Sydney Dogs and Cats Home in a heartbeat.”


Published 14 September 2021

Senior Cat Brings Joy to Elderly Adopter

At Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, not only do we bear witness to the transformative effects of adoption on lost and abandoned pets, but also the ability of pets enrich the lives of people who adopt.

In the midst of the July 2021 Sydney Covid-19 lockdown, while people were isolated in their homes unable to visit friends and family, many sought comfort and companionship in their pets.

This had normally been the case for Stefania, a Sydney-based woman in her 90s who lived independently with her rescue cat. She loved her cat dearly and enjoyed the sense of responsibility and companionship her cat provided. Sadly, just weeks before a stage 3 Greater Sydney lockdown, Stefania’s cat unexpectedly passed away from health complications, leaving Stefania heartbroken and more alone than ever.

After taking some time to grieve, Stefania decided it was time to welcome another rescue into her home. She wanted to give a senior cat a second chance. While many shelters had paused adoptions due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Sydney Dogs & Cats Home adoption process had moved online, so Stefania’s granddaughter put in an application on her behalf for a nine-year-old tabby named Abbi. Abbi was looking for a low-energy household with no other pets where she could be the centre of attention, so Stefania’s application was a perfect match.

Stefania’s family helped her conduct a virtual meet and greet with Abbi and her foster carer, and the decision was made to adopt. Abbi was returned from foster care and one of our Animal Attendants dropped her off at Stefania’s home where she was welcomed with open arms. Stefania’s son David told the Home, “my mum was delighted to meet [Abbi] and felt she looked more beautiful in real life than in the photos. She had a huge smile on her face.”

Abbi settled into her new home within days and has developed a comfortable routine sleeping, exploring, playing and spending time with Stefania. Abbi has a special cat tower next to Stefania’s favourite chair where she goes for company and a pat. They’ve formed a very special bond. As David notes, “she seems to only have eyes for Mum, [but] she is making an effort to like me!”

Abbi has brought a great deal of happiness to Stefania’s life and helped her cope with the Covid-19 lockdown. Stefania calls her family regularly to update them on Abbi’s escapades. David said, “Usually, Mum says she can’t find her anywhere in the house, then suddenly finds her squashed between pillows or in the cupboard sleeping soundly. Mum laughs a lot about what Abbi gets up to… Before Abbi arrived Mum hated lockdown because she had no company. Mum is dealing with lockdown much better now… She doesn’t feel so alone.”


Published 9 September 2021

Sweet as a Bowl of Trifle

Don’t be fooled by Trifle – he may look mean and scary, but he is the complete opposite! Trifle came into the Home after a life on the streets, a little worse for wear. He tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), a life-long virus that weakens the immune system; was unwell with cat flu; had a large scar on his left eye and had a number of dental concerns. Trifle was in need of a lot of love and affection, which the staff at Sydney Cats & Dogs Home were quick to deliver!

The Animal Care Team determined 6-year-old Trifle would need his canine teeth extracted so he could eat and groom comfortably. After successful treatment for his flu, Trifle went in for dental surgery. The procedure was a success and Trifle is now able to properly enjoy his one true love – food.  After examination of his eye, it appeared Trifle has some previous trauma which lucky hasn’t affected his vision; it just gives him loads of character!

When Trifle first came to the Home, he was fearful of people and other animals such as dogs. Any sudden movements would startle him and he would hide in the comfort of his cat pod. Trifle was placed in a large enclosure in reception where he could get used to people, and his progress was amazing! Over time, he began to approach our staff for pats and soon, he discovered he loves being brushed.  These days, Trifle will come running when he hears a can being opened and will give you one of his strong headbutts!

Because Trifle took his time warming up to new people, is FIV+ and has a cool battle scar on his eye, he looks a bit scary, so it was anticipated he may take some time to find the perfect home. But shortly after his dental surgery, Trifle has found his forever home!

It is because of the ongoing support of our community that cats like Trifle are able to receive the care and support they need and the opportunity to find their forever home. If you want to help cats like Trifle receive a second chance, donate today at


Updated 15 September 2021