A puppy is the first post-Christmas arrival for Battersea Cats and Dogs Home after being handed in on Tuesday.
Eight-week-old mongrel pup Ronnie was a Christmas gift for his owner from her former partner, but arrived at the charity when she became homeless.
The tiny dog was bought online and his owner received very little background knowledge about him.
Steven Craddock, the Battersea Intake Manager, said: “Ronnie is one of many thousands of dogs who will be bought off an unregulated website in the coming months, and end up in a home where the owner is unprepared and unable to take proper care of them.
“We believe he may have been taken from his mother far too young and likely sold by a breeder with absolutely no regard for his welfare.”
Once assessed, Ronnie will be vaccinated and microchipped before a new loving family can adopt him.
Mr Craddock added: “His owner did the right thing by bringing him into us where we can look after him and find him a loving new home, which we doubt will take long as he’s such a lovely boy.”
Thousands of dogs and puppies are sold online on unregulated websites – Gumtree lists 5,030 postings in the UK alone, some of which may not be from regulated sellers.
It is thought that large numbers of breeders fall under the radar because they are unlicensed, with no way to enforce welfare standards or even record the dogs’ births, a 2016-17 government report states.
Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats since it was founded in 1860.
For more information, call Battersea on 0843 509 4444 or visit www.battersea.org.uk.