Puppies of the illegal puppy trade

Puppy Scammers Exposed

FOUR PAWS’ investigation highlights how deceptive dealers cash in on the illegal puppy trade across Europe


In 2021 and 2022 FOUR PAWS executed investigations in the UK, the Netherlands, Romania and Bulgaria to test the legitimacy of offers for puppies advertised on classified ad sites, and to expose the various methods unscrupulous dealers employ to deceive buyers.

The UK and the Netherlands represent examples of countries where dealers are illegally selling puppies, while Romania and Bulgaria are representative of the source countries (which also include the Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Hungary and other Eastern European countries) where many of the puppies are originally bred.

Key Findings

Investigations revealed that an alarming number of puppies advertised on classified ad sites in the UK and the Netherlands are being illegally imported from Eastern Europe. Investigators met with puppy dealers and owners of puppy farms offering underage puppies for sale, as well as corrupt veterinarians willing to supply falsified documentation for puppies. In all countries where investigations took place, laws and animal welfare requirements were willfully disregarded, with unscrupulous puppy dealers employing various methods of deception to trick buyers into purchasing illegally imported puppies.

Investigators found:

  • Industrial-scale puppy imports from several different European countries into the UK with almost a third of classified ads surveyed advertising illegally imported puppies.
  • More than 40% of puppy ads in the Netherlands showed signs of illicit imports.
  • Almost 50% of puppy ads surveyed on one of the UK classified ad sites were confirmed to be illegal imports.
  • In Romania, more than 80% of breeders investigated declared that they participated in illegal activities, and most of them worked with corrupt veterinarians to obtain passports for underage puppies with fraudulent vaccination records, creating a serious health risk.
  • In both Bulgaria and Romania breeders were found selling multiple breeds of puppies kept in poor conditions, as well as breeding bitches housed in cages or other inappropriate environments.
  • Breeders were willing to falsify puppies’ documents and offered tips for bypassing existing regulations.
Puppy Scammers

Puppy Scammers

New FOUR PAWS report shows the illegalities behind the puppy trade across Europe – from the fraudulent ads on the classified ad sites to the violated legal requirements and the horrible breeding conditions from which the puppies came from

Puppy Scammers Summary

Puppy Scammers Summary

Find the summary of the report here

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