Whichever road you go down, it’s crucial that you carry out thorough research in order to buy responsibly and know the animal is right for you. The PAAG has plenty of useful information if you’re just getting started. Take a look at Gumtree’s guide to buying a puppy or dog online to help you safely and sensibly assess your options or our handy advice article that gives lots of useful advice if you’re planning on buying a cat or kitten online.
When contacting pet sellers, the following tips can help you check to make sure you get the pet you’re expecting. If you find any concerning adverts on Gumtree, please let us know so we can help keep everyone safe and provide a great shopping experience.
Meeting the pet (and its parents)
If the seller won’t let you meet the pet before handing over the cash, chances are it’s not as described. For a puppy, kitten or other baby animal, its parents can be a good indicator of whether the pet will be healthy and good-natured. If you can’t go and meet the pet and its parents, it’s worth seeing if you can view it via video call, taking a look at the pet and where it’s been living and checking that it seems happy and healthy.
Checking the price against similar pets
It’s good to compare the price to adverts for similar pets. It may seem like you’re getting a great deal, but if a breeder is charging a very different amount to others, it could be a red flag. The pet may have health problems, have not been cared for properly, or may not really be that breed at all.
Asking about the breed and any issues it might have
If you’re shopping for a purebred pet or a popular crossbreed like a labradoodle, it’s a good idea to ask the breeder about any potential health problems. Reputable breeders will be happy to talk about known issues and the health of your pet’s parents, as this can affect the chances of any problems. If the pet you’re considering has a pedigree status, it’s worth confirming any paperwork is legit and is included in the price.
Expecting some questions in return
Any seller who cares about a pet’s welfare will want to know it’s going to a loving home and an owner who can look after it properly. If the breeder asks about you, your home, or any other pets, it’s a good sign that the animal on offer has been well cared for.
Asking the breeder to come to you
If the seller offers to ship the pet to you or wants you to come and collect it, it’s possible that the pet is not as described. Shipping an animal will cause them significant distress and could really harm them, so this is always best avoided.
Red flags: seller asks you for a deposit or additional fees
Asking for a deposit is a method dubious pet sellers may use to scam you. It’s best practice to never pay any money until it’s time for the seller to hand over the pet. Requesting extra fees for documents, vaccinations, or insurance for a pet is another way someone may try to get you to pay over the odds. Honest breeders and sellers will include any costs like this in the original price.
Reporting dubious sellers to Gumtree
If you come across an advert that appears to be fraudulent, please report it to Gumtree. You can do this by clicking on the “report” button on the right of the advert, below the seller’s contact details. Please include any information about why it seems like a scam so that we can deal with it appropriately. For more advice, take a look at our Community Guidelines.