Traditionally, companion animals have been advertised for sale in printed media such as newspapers or magazines.
More recently, there has been a rapidly moving trend to the internet and also social media platforms as the primary place to source family pets.
Every year in Australia, tens of thousands of pets are advertised for sale online.
Fortunately, not all websites that advertise pets for sale are bad.
However, as veterinarians, we have concerns that some internet sites may be used for puppy farm sales and that animal welfare standards of the sellers may not be regulated.
Some online sales may also breach legislation.
One example is selling animals that are not microchipped or banned dog breeds.
As a busy practising veterinarian, it is a daily heartbreaking case scenario for me to see sick or diseased animals arriving into the homes of newly adopting families.
Often these animals arrive with a blank medical history and may not be quite what the new family was expecting.
Fortunately, the Australian Veterinary Association has developed guidelines around the sale of pets online.
Hopefully, these guidelines will assist families in adopting a sound and predictable pet.
The important guidelines include the following:
- all advertisements for dogs and cats must include the animal's microchip number.
- the advertising website should have comprehensive information for buyers including the breeding facility, how to meet the seller and details on the parent animals.
- age and date of birth must be included in the advertisement and animals must be weaned and independent of the mother.
- the advertisement should state whether the sale is from a private seller, commercial establishment or a shelter.
- banned breeds and pregnant or lactating animals must not be offered for sale.
- a recent photograph and ideally the medical history, including vaccination status and photos of the parents should be available to view on request.
Making the decision to take the leap and adopt a pet into your home is usually a very sensitive one and getting it right often means avoiding heartbreak!
The important message for people considering purchasing a dog or cat online is to first make the time to speak to your trusted local veterinarian who can provide some guidance and practical tips on where and how to find the right pet.
The RSPCA has also developed Guidelines for The Online Advertising of Pets; in response to demand from the community, and to help websites develop good policies that protect animals and improve consumer trust in the process.