3 April 2020 | Dog Advice

What is Petfishing and How To Recognise The Warning Signs

The term “Catfishing” is familiar to most. For those unfortunate enough to have fallen foul, Catfishing is referred to as someone building a fake profile (persona) online to engage with other people and encourage them to enter into a relationship under false pretences. The same fake profile building is happening within the pet industry and this activity is referred to as Petfishing. 

If you’re looking for pets for sale, how would you know if you were being Petfished? 

Petfishing is a sales tactic used by unlawful pet sellers and breeders advertising pets for sale to animal lovers wanting to purchase a pet. These adverts are misrepresented, false and portray a very different image online to reality and elude the buyer under false pretences. Often, these puppies and or kittens have been subjected to horrendous living conditions, poor levels of care (or none at all) and inappropriately bred for profit, with no ethical or moral duty of care. Those unlawful sellers do not care about the animals in question, nor do they care for the innocent buyer looking to buy a puppy or kitten. 

How would you know if you’ve been Petfished? 

Majority of animal owners wouldn't entertain such unlawful activity, but, unfortunately, these breeders, breeding in such horrendous conditions have become privy to the awareness that pet owners and buyers have and as a result, their operations have become very slick and still many pet lovers are unknowingly buying a pet for sale from puppy farms. 

Mypetzilla works very hard to prevent those unlawful sellers from advertising on the website and as an ethical business we would encourage all of our new and existing users to report such activity to 

What does Petfished mean? 

The term Petfish is to target pet buyers and elude them into a sale under false pretences. People that Petfish deceive animal lovers into buying a pet under the wrong circumstances often with the main aim of making money at any cost with little or no care to the animal in question and the buyer. Often, these circumstances involve lying about the pets living situation. For example, showing the buyer a picture of a litter of kittens with their mother when in fact the kittens were reared elsewhere under horrendous conditions. Or lying about the puppies health, other key facts about the pet in question and bloodline. There are, of course, many other circumstances that are untrue and hidden from the potential buyer. 

Petfish sellers are often pushy for the sale and use certain sale techniques to persuade the buyer for a sale. The pets for sale are often ineligible for pedigree registration and being sold as quality, desired colours and superior or rare breeds. Often, the buyer will be pushed into a sale or placing a deposit before they see the puppy or litter. 

Why do sellers use Petfishing tactics for a sale?

Often, these tactics are used for profit and profit only. These sellers have one key goal in mind and that is to turn over as much profit as possible, this is often done at a fast pace, with no care for the pets in question. The bitch produces litter after litter and the puppies or kittens are sold as premium at premium prices and many of these pets have serious health conditions and then go on to die. 

A responsible breeder knows and understands the entire process of producing a healthy litter of kittens or puppies. Those that unlawfully sell pets for profit never consider the welfare of the animal nor do they care about the prospective buyer. This tactic of selling is illegal and unlawful and we all need to take responsibility in reporting these sellers to the authorities. 

We must not support those that unlawfully sell pets 

Buying a pet from an unlawful seller is wrong and the buyer in question should walk away from the sale and report the seller immediately. As previously explained these pets are often in very bad health and whilst your heart may want to rescue and rehome the pet in question, this will only lead to further demand for the seller and as a result lead to more profit. For the buyer, this will result in costly veterinary bills and potentially watching the pet's health deteriorate and lead to death. 

Listed below are a few helpful signs to look out for to prevent you from being Petfished

How to recognise and avoid being Petfished 

  • Do your research first before visiting the litter. Understand the breeder's background before committing to a viewing. 
  • If you’re looking to buy a puppy you should check to see whether the breeder is enrolled in the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme and whether they’re a licenced commercial seller. 
  • Beware of sellers that come across as too pushy and ask for a deposit upfront before seeing the puppies or kittens. 
  • Allow plenty of time to get to know your breeder. All responsible breeders will want to know just as much about you to ensure they’re selling the puppy or kitten to the right person or family. The pet's health and wellbeing will be just as important to the responsible breeder as it will be to the buyer. 
  • Petfishing sellers are cropping up everywhere and you must not be fooled. Often, they sound friendly and will try and persuade you to buy or commit ASAP. 
  • You should always buy or adopt a puppy or kitten from a reputable breeder or a reputable rehoming centre. You can check this with the Association of Dogs and Cats home. 
  • Majority of reputable breeders specialise in one dog breed or cat breed, so be aware of breeders claiming to breed various dog breeds for sale and cat breeds for sale. 

Reporting a Petfish seller

If you think you’re being Petfished or you're suspicious of a seller's activity, then you should contact the RSPCA and report any suspicious adverts to the Pet Advertising Advisory Group.

Mypetzilla requests all new and existing users to report any suspicious adverts for sale on the website so we know who they are and we can report them to the authorities. Mypetzilla will ensure that any suspicious activity will be stopped in its tracks and will then be reported to the relevant authorities where appropriate. 

If you are at all suspicious then please do not hesitate to report the ad by clicking on the “Report Advert” link and Mypetzilla will ensure the advert is investigated and appropriate action is taken.

For more information please visit




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