Pet lovers are being warned of the risk of being deceived by dubious dog rescue agencies.

In the face of rising demand for dogs, Cherwell District Council’s dog warden service reports that overseas organisations often say an animal is domesticated when it’s not.

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In the past year, four unsuspecting residents in Banbury and the surrounding villages have been hoodwinked and left with dangerous and unpredictable animals in their homes.

In all four cases, phone calls to report that something was wrong went unanswered by the importers.

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We are a nation of animal lovers, but sadly there are unscrupulous people out there who are very keen to exploit Cherwell residents’ goodwill.

“Adopting a pet is an act of kindness but many dogs which are presented as being well-behaved rescues are actually strays which have been taken off the streets, in these cases, from Italy and Romania.

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"They often go through great distress when transported and are untameable by the time they get to the UK.

“Our message is that people looking to adopt a pet do their due diligence on whomever is offering it, and ideally choose a locally based organisation. That eliminates the risks of paying to send an innocent animal on a journey which could see it injured, or of importing diseases into the country.”

The British Veterinary Association has warned that dogs from other parts of the world are imported into the UK with unknown health histories.

This can lead to the introduction of diseases not normally found in the country, which can be transmitted to other animals.

In cases where a dog adopted from overseas is unsuitable and no longer wanted, there is no mechanism to return it.

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Legitimate UK rescue organisations may not be able to take them because of their aggression, and they often end up being put down.

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