Charity asks people to think twice before buying a dog online
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home took in more than 400 dogs last year that were originally bought online.
The charity 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 one.
In 2018 Battersea took in 404 dogs that were originally bought online -- up from 355 in 2017.
While some of these animals were much-loved pets, others were brought into the rescue centre after their owners bought them on impulse -- before realising they couldn't cope with the responsibility of owning a dog.
Battersea's centre manager Steve Craddock warned that 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," Craddock explained.
"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."
Something else to consider is the fact that an online ad won't always tell you the full story.
Battersea 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.
"You can now buy an animal in seconds and it's very tempting to be sucked in by the cute photos," Craddock said.
"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."