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RSPCA Australia has today commended PetSales, a new online marketplace for pets that is the first in Australia to meet the RSPCA’s Guidelines for the Online Advertising of Pets.

The RSPCA’s Guidelines were launched last year, and have been created to help safeguard the welfare of pets bought and sold online by encouraging platforms to put rigorous policies in place.

The Guidelines include requirements for websites to list all microchip, registration, age and health details of pets, as well as actively auditing ads for animal welfare breaches, and encouraging site browsers to directly report animal welfare concerns.

‘The RSPCA acknowledges that more and more Australians are searching for and finding pets through online sites like Gumtree, the Trading Post and Facebook Marketplace.

“While we strongly discourage buying a pet online – that is, sight unseen – browsing online is a common way that people make initial contact with owners and breeders as well as rescue organisations,’ RSPCA Australia Senior Scientific Officer, Dr Sarah Zito, said.

‘We developed the Guidelines because there is currently no other regulation that is designed to specifically protect animals being bought and sold online, aside from the basic Prevention of Cruelty to Animals laws in each state and territory.

‘Unfortunately, this makes it easy for unscrupulous breeders to advertise animals with false details, leading to truly horrendous outcomes for both the animals and consumers,

‘Last year, we saw one example of this through the case of the puppy Nala, who was bought via Gumtree, advertised as a purebred Beagle, and advised as having been dewormed and flea treated.

“In reality, Nala’s owner was faced with an incredibly sick, Beagle-cross puppy with a severe worm infestation, and who now requires costly ongoing care.

“This case goes to show the risks are very real and exacerbated online, where it’s possible to manufacture the appearance of a healthy puppy while hiding the reality.

“We believe that overall, websites that allow the sale of pets need to do better in prioritising animal welfare.

“PetSales is a new venture, and one that has started from the right foundation of ensuring the welfare of all animals advertised is being monitored.

“We congratulate them on this great achievement, and we continue to urge other major online marketplaces to also adopt the Guidelines in full,” said Dr Zito.

The RSPCA’s Guidelines for the Online Advertising of Pets can be viewed online here.

The RSPCA is Australia’s leading animal welfare organisation and one of Australia’s most trusted charities. The RSPCA works to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection.

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