Saturday, 8 October 2011

Mounting Concern Over Pets Bought Online

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home today issued a warning to potential pet owners who are considering buying a pet from popular websites such as Gumtree. The charity is bearing the brunt as people abandon dogs and cats they have bought on the internet, or encounter difficulties with poorly socialised puppies and dogs they have gained through a quick and cheap sale.

The leading animal charity is calling for greater regulation of websites such as Gumtree, Facebook and free ad sites to stop them from providing an open market for people who want to make a quick buck by irresponsibly breeding or selling animals. It is concerned that it has become far too easy for people to buy or sell a pet cheaply online.

Potential owners who are using unregulated sites to get a new pet have no way of knowing if they are getting their dog or cat from a responsible breeder as many of the sites do not monitor material posted on their pages. Battersea is also concerned that some people could be purchasing a Section 1 banned breed dog as advertisers often use erroneous names to avoid detection.

Next week, the charity is beginning an online campaign to alert potential pet owners to the risks involved in gaining a dog or cat through unregulated websites. Battersea is asking people looking to buy a pet from websites such as Gumtree to think twice about getting an animal they know nothing about.
The Home takes in thousands of abandoned dogs off the streets every year and many are the innocent victims of irresponsible ownership. With animals changing hands for little or no money via the internet, and scant policing of online advertisers, this practice could be fuelling an increase in the number of unwanted cats and dogs finding themselves without a home.

Battersea’s Head of Intake Liz McWalter said: “A quick search on the internet reveals just how easy it is to buy a pet cheaply and quickly without giving any real thought to the life-changing decision you are making. Potential owners may not be fully aware of the level of commitment they are taking on or fully research the breed of their chosen pet. It’s when these owners change their minds that they bring their pets to us for rehoming. Buying a pet is not like buying a new iPod and we need to see much stricter guidelines on the sale of pets online to prevent thousands more dogs and cats ending up mistreated or abandoned.”

Just this week an eight-month-old Bull Mastiff cross called Chance was brought into Battersea by her owner who had bought her less than two weeks ago through the internet. The seller provided very little information about the dog’s behaviour, history or temperament. When the owner got Chance home, she realised that Chance had not been properly socialised and she could not look after both her and her young family.

She said: “I did feel quite sorry for the dog and hoped that I could give her a good home. It’s such a shame that she has ended up at Battersea because the previous owner had not trained her properly. But, I have learnt my lesson and would look to get a new dog from a more reputable source in the future.”

Jack Russell Terrier Flossy was bought via Facebook in August. The new owner was told by the sellers that she was friendly and sociable but within two days, Flossy was at Battersea. Before turning to the charity for help, the new owner had contacted the previous owner who said that he did not want the dog back.

Meanwhile Staffordshire Bull Terrier Lola was only five months old when she arrived at Battersea because her owners, who had bought her on Facebook, could no longer look after her. The owners did have concerns that Lola had a tendency to bite and chew, however this is completely normal behaviour for a youngster and Lola has since been rehomed by Battersea.

Battersea would like to see potential pet owners seriously consider their own circumstances before bringing a pet home. Dogs and cats can live for up to 20 years and they require daily care, love and attention to be happy and healthy. Potential pet owners thinking of going online should log onto www.battersea.org.uk to find a dog or cat in desperate need of a home. All of Battersea’s animals are neutered, vaccinated, and the Home provides continued behaviour advice and support.

Battersea is also calling on the Government to join with rehoming charities to raise awareness of the dangers of buying dogs on unregulated internet sites. The charity believes that the Government should co-ordinate a partnership approach to tackle this wide and increasing problem.

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