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Animal protection organisation calls on online platforms to help protect animals and consumers from puppy farming

It has become increasingly common for Australians to buy animals online through classified ads sites, especially those breeds who are considered ‘designer’ and therefore attract a high dollar value. This demand has given rise to unscrupulous animal breeders, known as ‘puppy farmers’, who use animals as breeding machines with a focus on producing a high number of litters every year, only to be sold online.

With thousands of animals advertised online on any given day, this is a major industry with little to no animal welfare regulation.

There is no way to tell where these animals are coming from, how they are being treated, or where they will end up. Urgent changes are needed to help protect the welfare of thousands of animals in Australia.

Animal protection organisation, FOUR PAWS Australia is urging people to contact classified ad sites and request them to end the anonymous selling of animals.


Classified ad sites can do this through three simple steps including the introduction of verification of the seller identity, allowing only one seller account per person, per platform (to prevent the possibility to open several user accounts with different fake names) and to limit the number of animal ads for private sellers.

It is in the hands of global companies such as eBay, who own 11 classified ad sites around the world (including Gumtree Australia), to change that and lead the way to help protect animals and new Australian pet owners who may unwittingly purchase sick animals.

“Poor regulations have allowed many classified ads sites to become a safe haven for puppy farmers in Australia,” says Elise Burgess, Head of Communications at FOUR PAWS Australia. “The booming trade with young dogs is a serious problem. Animals can be bought at the click of a button, which leads to impulse purchases and high abandonment rates.”


FOUR PAWS Australia is also calling on online platforms to adopt recommended animal welfare standards. This includes important criteria such as not selling puppies or kittens under eight weeks of age, not allowing animals to be swapped for other items, and to not allow animals to be sold as ‘free’ or for breeding purposes.

“We are sure that sites enabling the online trade of animals will soon appreciate the benefits of adopting these best practice guidelines. Consumers as well as animal lovers will be reassured to know that the site with which they are dealing meets stringent requirements,” says Elise.

Puppy farming is a problem all over Australia. In Queensland this month, is was reported that people are breeding puppies in appalling conditions to fund dog fighting, using puppy farming practices to breed and sell ‘designer’ animals which then funds dog-fighting activities. Meanwhile, consumers across the country are also falling victim to puppy farming-related scams.

NSW Police have issued warnings about online scams where classified ads offer a puppy and freight to the victim’s home for a cheap price – only for no dog to arrive after the victim sends money. Police took to social media in October this year to urge people not to fall for the scam. 


There are easy ways for people looking for their new furry family member to avoid these pitfalls.


“At FOUR PAWS Australia, we strongly advocate for adoption. Choosing to adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue group not only saves the life of that animal, but also positively contributes to the ongoing fight against animal overpopulation and homelessness,” says Elise.