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Animal organisations call on responsible consumers to report bad ads to websites

Over 100,000 inappropriate, misleading or illegal adverts were removed in just six months this year by some of the UK’s biggest classified advertising websites following a successful pilot scheme run by the Pet Advertising Advisory Group to regulate online pet sales. A six-month monitoring scheme was undertaken by trained volunteers from a number of animal welfare organisations in membership of PAAG.

From underage animals, banned breeds, illegally imported or endangered species to animals offered in exchange for inanimate objects, the adverts removed in the pilot scheme all contravened PAAG’s Minimum Standards.

The classified advertising websites involved in the pilot scheme: Gumtree, Pets4Homes, PreLoved, Vivastreet, FridayAds and EPupz removed adverts highlighted by their own filters and those reported to them by PAAG Volunteer Moderators.

Clarissa Baldwin, Chairman of PAAG, says: “The truly staggering number of adverts that have been blocked in the pilot scheme is a real eye-opener in terms of the scale of the problem in the UK. We would like to say a huge thank you to the websites who have engaged with PAAG over the past year and who have committed to meeting the Minimum Standards. We hope that continued engagement will ultimately help to make the internet a safer place for pets and those looking to purchase a pet.

“Unfortunately, despite the fantastic efforts of a number of the biggest UK websites, thousands of other websites continue to accept illegal, unethical and unscrupulous adverts. We are urging any classified website in the UK offering pets for sale to sign up to the Minimum Standards so that progress can be made towards ensuring that all adverts on these websites are from reputable individuals or breeders.”

Animal Welfare Minister Lord de Mauley said: “Preventing over 100,000 illegal or unscrupulous online adverts of pets for sale is an incredible achievement and I applaud the Pet Advertising Advisory Group and advertising websites for making this happen.   

“We can all play a part in ensuring the welfare of pets sold online. If anyone sees a suspicious pet advert, from the sale of under-age animals to banned breeds, I would urge them to report it directly to the host site. If the advert isn’t removed quickly, they should contact the Pet Advertising Advisory Group straight away.”

The Minimum Standards are just the first step on the road to solving the problems related to the online sale of pets. Anyone with a serious concern about the welfare of an animal in an advert should notify the RSPCA, SSPCA, USPCA and PAAG at admin@paag.org.uk.

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