Online advertising of dogs and cats
Ratification Date: 27 Jul 2016
Websites or online trading platforms that advertise dogs and cats for sale must have in place and follow standards that support animal welfare and protect potential buyers. Veterinarians should be involved in the development of these standards.
Traditionally, companion animals have been advertised for sale in printed media such as newspapers or magazines. More recently there has been a move to the internet and social media as the primary place to source pets, and this trend is growing rapidly.1
There are concerns that internet sites may be used for puppy farm sales and that the animal welfare standards of the sellers are not regulated.
Some online sales may breach legislation; for example, sales of banned breeds and sales of animals that are not microchipped.
Groups have been set up in other countries to regulate and encourage responsible pet advertising, based on agreed minimum standards.2 Participating websites self-regulate and remove non-compliant advertisements. This is to ensure that, where pet animals are advertised for sale, it is done legally and ethically.
- Animals advertised for sale must be weaned and independent of the dam, and their age or date of birth must be included in the advertisement.
- A unique microchip number must be made available to the purchaser, and a recent picture of the animal should be included.
- Ideally, the medical history, including vaccination status, and pictures of the sire and dam should be available to view on request.
- Where a permit or licence is required to keep or breed an animal, a copy of the permit (with personal identifiers removed for public viewing if necessary) should be displayed. The full permit should be available on request.
- Pregnant and lactating animals must not be offered for sale.
- Banned breeds must not be offered for sale.
- The advertisement should state whether the sale is from a private seller, commercial establishment or a rehoming centre or shelter.
- Sales of pets should be from a legitimate fixed address and not at markets or temporary locations.
- The website should include prominent information for buyers about how to avoid puppy farms, and recommend meeting the seller, the parent animals, and inspecting the breeding facility before purchase.
- The website host should ensure that no pets are advertised for swapping with other pets, goods or services.
- The website should be monitored and there should be a mechanism for the public to report non-compliant advertisements to the website host.
- Hazel S. Online shopping for puppies: a study in South Australia. In: Proceedings of the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, 2014.
- Pet Advertising Advisory Group. Promoting responsible pet advertising. http://paag.org.uk. Accessed April 2015.