Puppies in a box

‘Cute.Quick.Sick.’: Pets Should Never Be Given as Presents for the Festive Season

FOUR PAWS highlights the dangers of buying a puppy as a gift


Vienna, 13 December 2022 – With shopping dominating the lead up to the festive season, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is highlighting the dangers of buying a puppy as a gift.

Getting someone a puppy as a gift may appear a good idea but comes with many risks: The person receiving the puppy may not want them or may not have an appropriate lifestyle to take care of a pet. Choosing a pet should always be a personal and individual choice so that owner and animal fit together well. Moreover, buying a puppy quickly, especially online, without considering their needs or carrying out sufficient research can result in purchasing a potentially sick animal from the illegal puppy trade.

Thousands of puppies are bred on puppy farms in Eastern Europe every year and then exported to Western Europe to be sold online by puppy dealers, especially during the festive season. The puppy dealers pose as the breeder and even rent fake homes and have fake mother dogs. They may even offer to deliver the puppy, so that they do not have to show the mother dog and the environment in which the puppy is kept.

Puppies from puppy farms are often sick and can cost the new owner a lot of money in veterinary fees. Zoonotic diseases such as rabies, ringworms or parasites can also be transmitted to the new owners and other pets. Doing the right research, asking the right questions, and getting the right documentation can help new owners avoid the risks of the illegal puppy trade.

“Bringing a puppy into your life should never be a spontaneous decision fueled by the holiday season. Puppies are sentient beings with complex needs, and not presents that can be discarded when no longer wanted,”

Magdalena Peneva, Companion Animals Campaigner at FOUR PAWS

Victims of the illegal puppy trade tell their stories

Richard A. from the UK thought he had found the perfect addition for his family in December 2020, when he spotted a twelve-week-old Labrador puppy on one of the UK’s leading classified ad sites. Richard contacted the seller who asked Richard to bring along cash so he could purchase the puppy on the day, which he did. Devastatingly, only three hours after Reggie, the puppy, arrived at his new home, he fell seriously ill. Sadly, Reggie had to be put to sleep, due to parvovirus infection. Richard and his family were heartbroken and shocked to find out that all Reggie’s paperwork was forged, and he had been bred on a puppy farm in appalling conditions.

Laura K. from Germany and her family decided that they were ready to get a new puppy, after their beloved dog had passed away. Laura’s mother quickly found some puppies for sale online and they arranged to meet the seller. Laura chose one of the puppies and named him Chico. After taking Chico home, Laura realised that he was very sick. Sadly, Chico had to be put to sleep to end his suffering having only been in Laura’s loving home for less than a day. The family were heartbroken.

Richard and Laura are among those who are sharing their heart-breaking experiences to highlight the risks of buying a puppy online without carryout the right research.

FOUR PAWS launched its ‘Cute. Quick. Sick.’ campaign in April 2022 to raise awareness of the risks of buying a puppy online and help potential puppy buyers to make the right choices when getting a puppy. For more information on the campaign please click here.



Buying a puppy? Know the risks.

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Katharina Braun

Katharina Braun

Team Lead Public Relations


+43 (0) 664 885 33 270

VIER PFOTEN International 
Linke Wienzeile 236
1150 Vienna, Austria

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org

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