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Cats and dogs for sale online pitfalls

Cats and dogs for sale online: what you see is not always what you get!

The internet has dramatically changed the way people find their new pets; but what are the dangers of buying a pet online?

Dr Susan Hazel from the University of Adelaide will be discussing this at the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) Annual Conference today in Brisbane.

“We don’t know exactly how many pets are sold online in Australia, but recent research into the numbers of dogs and cats advertised for sale online indicate that tens of thousands of pets are advertised every year.

“It’s not uncommon to come across misleading ads or outright scams online. There have been many cases of people receiving a sick or diseased animal, or a breed, unlike the description in the online ad. The truth is, it’s difficult for members of the public to differentiate between good and bad ads,” Dr Hazel said.

Another concern with the online sale of pets is that animals traded online can often arrive with a blank medical history. Dr Hazel says that while responsible pet owners will advise potential new owners of a health or behavioural problem, not all owners are responsible.

“Even people who want to do the right thing might mislead a potential owner. If a seller is desperate to find their pet a new home, they may not disclose the real reasons for giving it up,” Dr Hazel said.

Fortunately, not all websites that advertise pets for sale are bad.

“There are also some highly reputable websites like PetRescue that help to find homes for surrendered pets in shelters or pounds,” Dr Hazel said.

AVA President, Dr Paula Parker said that it’s important for websites or online trading platforms that advertise dogs and cats for sale to follow standards that support animal welfare and protect potential buyers.

“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.

“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 also breach legislation, for example, selling banned breeds or animals that are not microchipped,” Dr Parker said.

The AVA has developed some guidelines around the sale of pets online:

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