Are the online pet classified websites doing enough?
It’s safe to say, a high percentage of shoppers now purchase online, whether it be clothing, electrical, food etc, we have choices beyond choice. Online shoppers generally approach online sellers with caution, making sure they have as much knowledge as possible about the seller, the purchase and of course the price. Do we as humans air the same caution when buying animals online?
The decision to have a pet as we know should not be taken lightly. It’s something that needs careful thought, preparation and knowledge, however, with the rapid growth of online shopping, the public are in a position to buy a pet on a whim, often leading to these animals being rehomed within hours of purchase, due to lack of thought and commitment.
With the rise of internet purchasing, buying animals online has become an unregulated springboard for rogue dealers who use sites to sell often ill and badly bred animals. With the successful implementation of Lucy’s Law coming in to play, this will have a huge impact on sales of animals in pet shops and third party traders, but how will the online sector deal with these type of sales?
What is a ‘Pay Wall’
A few months ago Gumtree, a classified ads site online found themselves in the news after a puppy named Buddy was purchased and within hours had been rehomed. This prompted Gumtree to act and they introduced a ‘Pay Wall’ system, hoping to filter out unscrupulous sellers and gaining trust back with the general public. Gumtree admitted, although the sale of pets online was not illegal, it is far too easy for the public to purchase an animal with the click of a button, without knowing anything about the animal, seller etc.
Gumtree is a member of the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG). Although strict compliance is followed there will always be unscrupulous traders in animals slipping through the net, introducing the pay wall will make it easier to filter out these dealers.
A fee of £2.99 is now charged to anyone wanting to advertise a pet sale on the site. This may not sound a lot but a genuine seller will pay, to a rogue trader this will deter them, having to provide a bank account, which will provide an address. Furthermore, Gumtree have moderators removing ads that seem ‘suspicious’ and not following the sites guidelines. Requesting a particular pet on the website ‘wanted section’ is not available now,
Gumtree state there are plenty of animals to choose from on the site or animals that need rehoming.
With all the publicity surrounding Gumtree and the sale of animals online, they continue to educate buyers on important issues surrounding purchasing a pet online. Always look at the sellers environment, do not buy the pet if you cannot view it, is the breed selling too cheap, all these factors and many more are urged to be taken in to consideration when buying pets online, it’s far to easy to make a decision on a whim, then regret it later and the animals are left in rehoming centres or worse.
Gumtree have assured the public that continual effort will be made to ensure animal welfare and safety of the users is prioritized. Working with PAAG and DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) as well as law enforcement, Gumtree will keep a close eye on new legislation surrounding pet sales and implement these rules ensuring their site.is up to standard and following correct procedures and guidelines.
Is this enough of a deterrent?
As part of a dog rescue organisation we see the dogs that are sold on Gumtree, Pets 4 Homes, Preloved, Shpock etc. Rarely are these dogs healthy, in fact I struggle to recall a dog of any age from these adverts that did not require comprehensive veterinary treatment.
We don’t know what else these websites can do to resolve the issue, its simply too big of a problem for them to tackle alone.
The problem stems back to puppy purchasers and bad breeders, every dog that ends up in rescue was a puppy originally. On the rare occasion there are circumstances that dictate to a dog being surrendered into rescue, sadly most that are handed over have ended up there because the owner has not considered the huge responsibility that dog ownership is.
The problem is intensified with puppy farmed dogs not being health tested and therefore bred with no consideration to the long term welfare of the puppies. Some dogs are so poorly their owners cannot afford their vet treatment.
Rescues are full to breaking point with things only to get worse after Christmas when even more puppies will be purchased as gifts. Owners that want to surrender their dog into rescue are either being told ‘no we are full’ or ‘join the waiting list’. Then these dogs will be listed on these adverts the same way as a used sofa or a bike.
What can we do?
We can continue to raise awareness around only purchasing puppies from health tested parents from breeders that do really care. Puppies should never be purchased in the same way as an Amazon or Ebay item would be. Research takes time and good breeders will usually have a waiting list, be prepared to wait.
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