A new campaign to prevent people from being scammed when buying puppies online is being launched by the Dogs Trust in the North West.
Figures suggest 13% of pet owners in the region believe they may have been the victim of puppy smugglers.
The charity says buyers are often misled about the health and pedigree of the animals.
The campaign, Don't Be Dogfished, shows how thousands of unsuspecting dog lovers are being scammed into buying dogs which may not be the happy, healthy puppies they seem.
The Dogs Trust says: "Our Don't Be Dogfished campaign aims to help protect owners from being misled into buying dogs which may not be as they seem, how to avoid being dogfished - and how to avoid being potentially hundreds of pounds out of pocket as a result of caring for a poorly puppy or, worse still, experiencing their puppy dying."
The campaign is asking potential new owners to take the following steps to avoid being misled when buying a puppy:
- * Always see puppy and mum together at their home and make sure to visit more than once.
- * Ask lots of questions and make sure you see all vital paperwork, such as a puppy contract - which gives lots of information about their parents, breed, health, diet, the puppy's experiences and more.
- * If you have any doubts or feel pressured to buy, as hard as it may be, walk away.
Watch Ashley Dericott's report here: