Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is urging the public to do their research before they buy a new pet and consider a rescue animal, rather than logging onto the internet to buy a dog.

The world-famous charity released new statistics today showing they took in 404 dogs that were originally bought online in 2018 – up from 355 in 2017.  

While some of these dogs are much-loved pets, others were brought into Battersea after their owners bought them online impulsively, before realising they couldn’t cope with the responsibility of owning a dog.

These include dogs like Truffle, a 12-week-old Jack Russell Terrier, who was brought into Battersea in December 2018. His owner had bought him after seeing an internet ad and met the seller at a train station, where the young dog was handed over wrapped in a towel. Truffle’s new owner quickly realised she’d underestimated what having a puppy entailed and wasn’t able to devote the time needed to care for him. She made the responsible decision to bring the dog into Battersea.

The online ad had promised Truffle would be microchipped and vaccinated, but Battersea’s vets quickly discovered neither of these things had been done. Battersea staff strongly suspect Truffle may have originally come from a puppy farm. This is a story sadly repeated up and down the country all too frequently.

Battersea’s Centre Manager Steve Craddock said: “Luckily Truffle’s story has a happy ending and he’s gone to a lovely new home, but this just illustrates how online sales platforms have become a vehicle for irresponsible breeders. There are, of course, many genuine sellers online, and some websites are taking steps to improve in this area, but too many backstreet breeders and puppy farmers are still benefiting from the system.

“We’d always encourage people to consider a rescue dog. However, if you do decide to buy elsewhere – particularly if you’re getting a puppy – make sure you do your research to ensure you’re not unintentionally fuelling backstreet breeders or puppy farmers.”

Battersea also sees many animals coming through their gates because they have unexpected behavioural or medical issues, which their owners weren’t told about when they bought them online.

Steve continues: “You can now buy an animal in seconds and it’s very tempting to be sucked in by the cute photos. Online pet sales have become a huge industry and research shows that a new dog advert is created online every two minutes, while a cat advert goes up every four minutes. Sadly, the reality can be very different from the pictures and it’s difficult to know if the animal you’re getting will match up to the advertisement.

“It’s animal rescue centres that then pick up the pieces and so we’re asking people to, please, think before you click and remember that a pet is a huge responsibility. Better yet, consider coming into Battersea and adopting one of the many dogs here looking for a home. All our animals have had thorough medical or behavioural assessments, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.”

To find out more about the dogs and cats waiting for a second chance at Battersea, visit

Notes to editors:

  • New regulations came into force on 1 October 2018 to try and clamp down on the breeding and sale of dogs. Under these new regulations, commercial breeders, and anyone producing three or more litters a year, must apply for a licence through their local council and prove they meet basic standards of animal welfare. This licence number should be displayed on any online ads.
  • Other provisions of the regulations around pet sales cover: how every seller must take care of the health and welfare needs of their animals; how puppies must be socialised; and that all puppies must be microchipped with the breeder listed as first owner and never transferred to their new owner under 8 weeks of age.
  • The Government plans to introduce further regulations to ban third party sales in the coming months, meaning the public will only be able to get puppies directly from the breeder or from a rescue centre.
  • Backstreet breeders and puppy farmers will often take puppies away from their mother too young. Anyone looking to buy a puppy should always insist on seeing the puppy with its mother.    
  • Analytics company Hindesight have discovered a new dog advert is created online every two minutes, while a cat advert is created online every four minutes.
  • Research by NFP Synergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor (January 2017) showed that less than half (49%) of people have heard anything about the risks of buying a pet over the internet in the last three months.
  • Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society. 
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • In 2017 the Home cared for over 7,000 dogs and cats.
  • Battersea cares for an average of 300 dogs and 200 cats across its three centres at any one time.
  • There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at the charity but the average stay for a dog is 38 days and 22 days for a cat.
  • For further information on Battersea Dogs & Cats Home please visit
  • Follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ or