Last updated: 18 May 2020
CAUTION: Beware of increased activity of scams / frauds during COVID-19 related to rehoming of pets and ALWAYS follow our checklist (below each advert) before rehoming a pet. NEVER send a deposit before you have viewed the pet in person or digitally over video to confirm that the seller and the adverted pet is genuine.
Common scams during COVID-19
Typical traits of a scam will be that the fraudster will advertise that they have puppies or kittens for sale. They will not let the pet to be collected in person due to the lockdown restrictions, and will insist on shipping the pet to the customer’s address. After the deposit is paid, the buyer will be asked to cover further costs, which may include:
- Shipping fee
- Fee for pet travel documents
- Travel crate
- Pet travel and health insurance
- Pet vaccination
- Pet overnight accommodation
ALWAYS report suspicious behavior to the Pets4Homes Trust & Safety team by using the "Report Seller" button in the listing or in the chat room between buyer and seller.
GOV/DEFRA relaxation of guidance for breeders and private sellers: Because of travel restrictions, in some circumstances it is necessary to allow the breeder to take the puppy or kitten to their new home as the purchaser is banned from collection. Where purchase has already been arranged and it is not possible for welfare reasons for the puppy or kitten to be retained by the breeder it is acceptable for the puppy or kitten to be sold and go to their new home providing they are at least eight weeks of age and any viewing of them with their mother and litter mates can be achieved electronically. For the duration of the lockdown in these exceptional circumstances the breeder may take the puppy or kitten to a home address providing that that journey times are minimised and preferably less than six hours and that the handover can be achieved whilst maintaining social distancing.
Pets4Homes was founded more than 15 years ago on the premise of providing a safe and trusted environment for breeders and individuals alike to rehome pets. We are proud of the work that our Trust & Safety team do every day and night to uphold our rules and standards.
As a direct consequence of the government’s stricter social distancing guidance on Monday March 23, it is no longer possible for buyers and sellers to adhere to our terms & conditions as well as the checklist that all buyers MUST follow. This includes, but is not limited to:
- ALWAYS visiting the advertisers home to view the pet and confirm they are genuine
- The advertiser should ALWAYS let you see puppies with their mother
- Buyers MUST ensure that the pet has had its vaccinations. If the seller has not started the puppies vaccinations, it will be your responsibility to make sure you arrange both vaccinations 7 days before letting your puppy go outside
At Pets4Homes, the safety of our community is at the heart of what we do and we urge our users to stay at home and to follow the requirement to limit all non-essential travel. As a result, we are therefore relaxing our rules that buyers must always visit the advertisers home. Instead, viewings should take place electronically and collections should take place at the purchasers premises during the lockdown. Further guidance can be found below.
What does this mean for buyers?
We urge all buyers to stay at home and to not go to viewings during the lockdown (please consider electronic viewings instead by using services such as Skype, Facetime, Messenger, etc.). There will be fewer pets available for rehoming during the lockdown, so please be patient and use Pets4Homes to start your buyer journey and do your research. Buying a pet is a significant commitment that stretches many years into the future - use this time to educate yourself to be the best owner you can be.
- Use our breed selector (dogs / cats) to find the most suitable breed for you
- Browse our article library of more than 6,000 articles covering all aspects of pet ownership and pet rehoming
- Become a member of the UK’s largest pet community Petforums, to engage directly with other prospective buyers, with breeders and pet professionals such as vets
- Prepare for the arrival of your pet by fully reading through our thorough checklists which can be found in every listing on Pets4Homes
We encourage you to start your buying process by browsing adverts on Pets4Homes and by building a relationship with the breeders and sellers - a relationship which stretches many years into the future. Ask breeders and sellers questions through our messaging system, get insurance quotes and prepare for how you will care for your pet once the lockdown is over.
What does this mean for breeders and sellers?
We will continue to support our breeder community, even in these difficult times, and help save livelihoods. Pets4Homes has been a free website to use since inception and will remain so in the future. We invite sellers to advertise their puppies for rehoming, but we DO NOT allow breeders to arrange physical viewings during the lockdown. Feel free to use our channels to start planning for the rehoming of your pets and litters and arrange electronic viewings. By having prospective buyers being able to ask you questions prior to the viewing, we hope to keep the interruption caused by the lockdown to a minimum.
- DO NOT ask prospective buyers to send a deposit to hold and reserve a pet. This is to safeguard buyers against potential scammers taking advantage of desperate buyers in these times
- DO NOT invite purchasers to your home. Collection of pets should take place at the purchasers premises during the lockdown.
Am I allowed to rehome a litter ready to leave during lockdown?
Yes - where purchase has already been arranged and it is not possible for welfare reasons for the puppy or kitten to be retained by the breeder it is acceptable for the puppy or kitten to be sold and go to their new home providing they are at least eight weeks of age and any viewing of them with their mother and litter mates can be achieved electronically.
It is important to note that at present, all other existing legal obligations, such as microchipping your puppies prior to sale and any licensing conditions, remain in force. Issues related to licensing should be raised with the relevant local authority.
These rules also apply for those who are not considered breeders if it is a significant welfare concern to keep the puppies longer than planned. Likewise, other factors such as financial hardship, or mental health issues associated with keeping the puppies longer may also meet the legal threshold for leaving your home to transport the puppies. If transporting puppies to their new homes, please follow the guidance below. The use of a commercial transporter licensed for dogs is also allowed.
What do I need to think about during collection?
- Only puppies or kittens from a single litter going to the same household should be delivered in each journey so that personal hygiene for the breeder or transporter can be maintained including hand washing after the delivery that can only be achieved once the breeder has returned home
- The person transporting should ensure that the puppy or kitten is provided with comfortable and appropriate accommodation including bedding during transport
- Handover should take place in a room or space large enough for the breeder/transporter and purchaser to maintain their social distance
- Gloves should be worn during the handover, removed before returning to the vehicle and disposed of afterwards
- The puppy or kitten should be wiped over with a pet safe damp disposable cloth prior to handover and no equipment such as a basket should be given by the breeder to the purchaser
- Doors and gates should only be opened and closed by householder
- Time in the property should be kept to the absolute minimum
- Paperwork and other checks and documentation should be predominantly completed ahead of meeting
What should I do if I need to get my puppies vaccinated or microchipped?
Speak to your vet to ask them what they recommend and what procedures they are carrying at this time. Due to the current measures set out by government, vaccinations and microchipping may not be possible in the current lockdown. Breeders and purchasers should contact their veterinary practice for advice. Where there is a high risk of infection with severe disease such as Canine Parvovirus the practice may be able to provide suitable arrangements for vaccination. If vaccination is undertaken the pet should be microchipped at the same time if not already implanted.
Concluding remarks and more resources
Pets4Homes do not encourage physical viewings to take place or for purchasers to travel during the COVID-19 restrictions. On the other hand, we believe that the best way to support our community is to allow prospective pet owners to search for the ideal pet and for sellers to find the ideal home.
By allowing prospective buyers and sellers to communicate, both breeders and buyers can prepare for when the lockdown is over and, for pets which are ready to leave, to go to their new home. A pet is a significant commitment for any individual and should never be bought on impulse. By spending your time preparing yourself for being a pet owner, you are doing yourself and your future pet a great service.
Please read our articles concerning COVID-19, but note that older articles may become outdated as government guidance changes. Below are additional resources from the government, our partners and our stakeholders. We will continue to update these guidelines as events unfold.
- Government guidance for owners of pets
- Defra’s’ Petfished’ campaign website with tips for prospective buyers
- Kennel Club information for breeders
As always, we will continue to work closely with the RSPCA, PAAG and other stakeholders to uphold the safety of Pets4Homes. If you see listings that violate our rules, please use the report section to alert this to our Trust & Safety team. We decline 40% of new listings and monitor the website around the clock, a commitment which has been intensified to make sure that both buyers and sellers abide by our standards.
For any other queries or questions, please refer to our comprehensive Pets4Homes support portal.
The whole team at Pets4Homes