At the Vets: If you want a healthy pet, never buy one on-line

Molly the responsibly-bred German shorthaired pointer puppy seen interacting with mum when bought.
Molly the responsibly-bred German shorthaired pointer puppy seen interacting with mum when bought.

Did you know that 100,000 - 120,000 pet adverts appear on UK websites every day?

Last week I attended a posh breakfast in Parliament joining a group of animal charities and MPs launching minimum standards for UK websites to sell pets; designed to improve welfare and protect members of public from the risk of ending up with sick, dangerous or even illegal animals.

Increasingly, all shapes and sizes of animals are traded openly online from classified ads; examples such as puppies irresponsibly bred on distant puppy farms to kittens offered in a ‘swap for a mobile phone’, even a ‘fighting dog with big teeth’.

Recently more exotic adverts included an Arctic fox, a very rare Zonkey (Zebra x Donkey), skunk, marmoset monkeys, as well as illegal pit-bull pups, cats requiring urgent veterinary treatment, even a Golden Retriever wanted for a swap with a Chihuahua.

From underage animals, banned breeds, illegally imported or endangered species to animals offered in exchange for inanimate objects – online pet advertising in its current form appears to allow almost anything, so improved website standards are desperately needed to try to filter out unscrupulous advertisements.

Nowadays people turn to their computers when looking to buy or sell almost anything, including pets, sadly now seen by many as commodities like washing machines or cars, and advertised/purchased in the same way.

Websites in compliance with new standards will be identifiable to consumers as ethical and safer choices when deciding to find a pet online, and the public need to stay vigilant to ensure these websites meet standards consistently, and not use sites that don’t apply minimum standards.

In an ideal world we’d all prefer pets not to be available online at all, as they often fall sick or die soon afterwards, so websites do all they can to ensure the welfare of animals sold; a first step on the road to improving how pets are advertised online.

Finally if you really want a happy healthy pet then please never buy online; instead visit your local rescue centre or always insist on seeing mum interacting with young pups or kittens.