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Pet Deception: FOUR PAWS exposes risks of online pet trade


Pet Deception: FOUR PAWS exposes risks of online pet trade

SYDNEY, 22 June 2016 - FOUR PAWS has revealed shocking evidence of the illegal pet trade on online classified ad sites with ads offering for sale illegally imported puppies, banned breeds and endangered and illegally caught wildlife. As a result people looking for a pet online could end up with a sick, dangerous or even illegal animal. The international animal welfare organisation has carried out research on 42 classified ad sites across 10 countries worldwide.


A puppy being swapped for a smart phone, a pit bull advertised illegally for professional dog fighting, illegally imported puppies from Lithuania, a pregnant monkey no longer wanted, wild boar being advertised to train hunting dogs, an endangered ring-tailed lemur for sale as a pet and a parrot being swapped for a laptop – are just some of the ads discovered during the research and all caused by a lack of proper regulation of the online pet trade.


“With our international campaign, FOUR PAWS wants to stop this “pet deception”,” says Jeroen van Kernebeek, Managing Director of FOUR PAWS Australia, “As part of the campaign we have developed an online tool which ranks the more commonly used classified ad sites to show the public which sites could be putting them and the pets at risk:”


Based on a set of requirements developed by FOUR PAWS, the sites are ranked according to which FOUR PAWS measures they have introduced to protect animals advertised on their sites. Additionally, supporters can help by signing an online petition calling on leading global brands such as the eBay Classified Group, which owns Gumtree Australia and eBay Australia to adopt the animal welfare measures.


Thousands of classified adverts offering pets are listed on websites every day, with animals being purchased like products, at the click of a button. Some sites have as many as 200,000 adverts featuring pets for sale online at any one time, with over 4 million viewers. Classified ad sites benefit from the high click-through rate and the resulting advertising revenue.


However, many of these sites, even those owned by trusted brands such as eBay Classifieds Group, can be poorly regulated and therefore offer little protection for the pets being advertised and for the people searching online to find a pet.


“We have developed a set of recommended measures and are calling on global brands to lead the way in protecting animals and people by adopting them,” adds Jeroen.


These measures include the following recommendations which specify that classified ad sites should:


  • Verify seller identities, so that there is no anonymous selling of animals on the sites, to help stop illegal activity.
  • Run pre-checks of all adverts before they go live, to remove illegal, misleading or inappropriate adverts.
  • Feature mandatory information in the ad on the animal including the age, gender, vaccination and registration details, as well as information on health care and relevant documentation so the buyer can make an informed decision about acquiring a pet.
  • Put in place and enforce a list of animals which are not suitable to be sold on the site and are therefore banned from selling - including primates, endangered and wild-caught animals, underage animals and pregnant animals.


The petition can be signed at