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Online pet advertising

What’s the problem?

More and more people are choosing to look for a new pet on the internet. Social media is also used to sell pets and there are no specific laws to regulate the standard of online pet advertising.

These include the sale of very young puppies and kittens, puppy farmers and dealers pretending to be private sellers.  Pregnant animals and illegal status dogs are also being traded and animals are being swapped for objects such as mobile phones.

If the ads that people see for pets are of a poor standard, where animals are treated as commodities and their welfare is ignored, then it is likely that consumers will begin to see this as normal. As a result the welfare of animals being bought and sold in this way will suffer. 

Examples of bad adverts 

When you find an advert that needs reporting, take a screenshot and email it to: [email protected] with ‘social media pet sales report’ in the subject line. 

If you have more than one advert please combine them together and send them as one email. 

How do I take a screenshot? 

  • On a Mac: hold down the command, shift and number 3 keys - the screenshot then will be saved to your desktop as a file
  • On a PC: press the print screen key, and then click into the body of your email and hold down ctrl and v to paste the screen shot as a picture 
  • On a mobile, smart phone or tablet: it does depend on the make, but most take screen shots by either holding the volume down and power buttons at once, or the home and power buttons together. The screen should flash white and it will save as a photo which you can attach to an email

What we want you to do

It is important that we try to build up a picture and gather evidence of what is going on. Through your help we can identify trends and provide research which can be used to make changes to the sale of pets online.

We would like you to search Shpock, Facebook and Instagram and any other social media sites for bad adverts selling pets

Use the search function to look for adverts - these are some example key word searches: free to a good home, specific breed names like Staffie, Rottweiler, French bulldog and many others, dogs/puppies, cats/kittens, pets, exotic pets, primates, birds, pets for sale.

When looking through adverts, keep an eye out for poor quality, or adverts that you think are suspicious. The below points will give you some idea of things to look out for.

  • Adverts for puppies or kittens under eight weeks old - they can’t be away from their mothers before this age
  • Dogs being sold as guard dogs, or advertised as suitable for hunting 
  • Pregnant animals for sale 
  • Adverts asking to swap pets, services or goods
  • Exotic pets - many of these species aren’t suitable to be kept in homes. You can find out more by reading our One Click Away report
  • Adverts where the photo or text seems to suggest the welfare of the animal is suffering. For example, dirty and overcrowded cages, very underweight animals etc
  • Pets advertised as being delivered by post, either in the UK or internationally
  • Adverts for illegal breeds of dog, the four banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act are: the pit bull terrier, the Japanese tosa, the dogo Argentino, fila Brasileiro  
  • Adverts which suggest an animal may be a danger to a member of the public 
  • Closed groups on Facebook offering pets for sale

— Page last updated 27/06/2018