For many years, the Kennel Club has been greatly concerned about
the varying standards of websites which allow dogs to be advertised
on their sites as this causes confusion for potential new
Unfortunately, the scant information provided in classified
adverts makes it very easy for unscrupulous breeders and even puppy
farms to sell their puppies to unknowing members of the public.
Often these puppies will have serious medical or behavioural
problems, which could lead to them being abandoned or even
In 2001, the UK's leading animal welfare charities united to
from the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) in an effort to
clamp down on illegal pet classified adverts, following a record
number of complaints from people buying sick pets. PAAG is made up
of organisations including Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club, Cats
Protection and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs (Defra), all concerned that consumers looking for a bargain
family pet are falling foul of unscrupulous pet traffickers.
The group provides information and advice to those buying and
selling pets, detailing information on the law and encouraging best
practice to promote responsible pet buying. This includes the
advertising of illegal activity, such as the sale of banned breeds
of dog; dogs sold for fighting or baiting; illegally docked dogs;
and the advertisement of animals classified under the Dangerous
Wild Animals Act.
The website www.paag.org.uk offers free downloadable links
and fillers for classified pages, aimed at encouraging potential
puppy buyers to think carefully before buying a new family pet
through classified advertisements. There is also a facility to
report the purchase of an animal from a classified advert or
website that has turned out to be a sick or problem pet, with
information on how to contact Consumer Direct.
PAAG has engaged with some of the main online sites, including
Gumtree, Epupz, Preloved, Loot and Pets4Homes, to improve their
standards of advertisement monitoring and filtering. Many other
websites exist that are unwilling to implement any measures to
ensure that irresponsible and illegal advertising does not appear
on their websites.
PAAG is working with advertisers towards a voluntary code of
practice that, if upheld, would result in a reduction in the number
of inappropriate, misleading and illegal adverts that are currently
being placed online. Amongst other things the standards are calling
for improvements to be made to website advert filtering systems,
offering animal specific training to website moderators and
providing ongoing advice and support.
PAAG hopes to encourage all advertisers of pets to adhere to its
minimum standards and has developed a success criterion for
websites to aim towards.
Politically, Defra, as a member of PAAG, is supportive of the
minimum standards and on-going work of the group and it shares its
hope that the Government will look to endorse the standards in the
Online advertising of pets has been linked to several emotive
issues such as exotic and dangerous animals, puppy farming,
fraudulent and bogus advertising, and sick and unhealthy animals.
PAAG hopes that the Westminster and devolved Governments will
recognise that voluntary compliance does not go far enough and
further intervention is required to more closely monitor what is
largely an unregulated sector.