The Scottish SPCA has issued a stark warning following the death of a puppy bought on Gumtree.
The charity said low-welfare puppy dealers are using the coronavirus pandemic to trick animal lovers after a buyer was told they could not meet their new dog’s mother due to the lockdown restrictions.
Despite paying £920 for what was advertised as an eight-week-old Jack Russell, the owner was instead given a four-week-old border collie.
Less than 24 hours after welcoming little Milo into his new home, the pup had to be taken to a vet.
Milo returned home after nearly a week of care, but was hospitalised a few days later. He died on Tuesday, with the Scottish SPCA stating his illness was caused from being taken away from his mother too young.
Milo’s owner, from Lanarkshire, said: “We were told we couldn’t meet Milo with his mother due to the restrictions around coronavirus. The seller went into detail about safety measures and we were completely fooled.
“He came across as a polite gentleman who was dressed smartly. He even brought a pouch of dog food and told us to call him in a few weeks.
“The number he gave us did not work and we are told it was from a burner phone.
“It was obvious that Milo wasn’t a Jack Russell and was clear he wasn’t being looked after. We didn’t have the heart to send him back.
“The vet first thought he had parvovirus and he was sent to the hospital. It turns out he was riddled with worms from not being weaned and put straight on dog food.
“He was so young he should still have been being fed by his mother, so his stomach was in bits.
“He wouldn’t eat or drink as he hadn’t learned how to yet.
“I just kept thinking we were supposed to buy him to save his life.
“Milo was a gift for my 12-year-old granddaughter, who is absolutely heartbroken.”
The Scottish SPCA said Milo was originally listed with a white puppy, who was then relisted on Gumtree just an hour after Milo was purchased under another name and in another area.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We are saddened to hear of Milo’s passing and our thoughts are with his owner who did everything possible to save him.
“Unfortunately puppy dealers are using the pandemic restrictions to trick the public.
“Milo was microchipped but the chip didn’t match the address and he also had false vaccination papers.
“We are warning the public to be extra vigilant when buying a puppy and not to accept any excuse not to see the puppy with mum.
“The public needs to remember that these low-welfare breeders are master manipulators and are skilled at deceiving people.
“No matter how plausible the excuse, do not accept it. You must see pup with mum, that is the bottom line.”
The Scottish SPCA champion adoption over buying a pet, however those who have their hearts set on a puppy have been advised to do their research to ensure they are buying from a responsible breeder.
Chief superintendent Flynn added: “Although you may have to wait slightly longer, you will be getting a happy and healthy dog.
“Often in these cases puppies like Milo are taken from their mothers far too early and are not strong enough to survive.
“This case very sadly shows the reality of this abominable trade and the devastating consequences.
“There has been a huge spike in low-welfare puppy farming due to coronavirus. We will continue fighting against puppy dealers but they will continue to operate as long as the demand is there.”
If you have any information in relation to this case, call the Scottish SPCA’s confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.
To find out how to spot a low-welfare breeder, click here.