MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR ONLINE CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING WEBSITES
- run automated checks for ‘blacklisted’ words/terms such as banned breeds and filter for misleading or inappropriate adverts
- require all vendors to include a recent photograph of the animal that they are advertising and monitor for suspicious usage of images.
- require that all adverts display the age of the animal advertised. No pet should be advertised for transfer to a new owner before it is weaned and no longer dependent on its parents.
- permanently ban vendors – on a three strikes and you’re out basis – who attempt to post illegal adverts, and take down illegal/inappropriate adverts within 12 working hours of notification
- ensure that every view item page includes prominent links to PAAG advice on buying and selling a pet (and specific advice for commonly advertised species), including “pop ups”
- label clearly on each ad whether it is a private sale, commercial sale or from a rescue/rehoming centre
- not include adverts for farmed animals or adverts specifying that the animal is to be used for working, hunting, or guarding in the pet section
- monitor for multiple mobile/telephone numbers and email addresses in private sales and investigate and potentially ban frequent/repeat breeders. ‘Frequent’ is defined as the same vendor offering a third different animal in a twelve month period.
- ban adverts of live vertebrate animals as food
- ban adverts offering stud animals, animals in season or animals ‘for rent’ or ‘loan’ in pet section. Note that adverts offering horses or donkeys for loan are acceptable
- ban adverts offering pregnant animals for sale
- ensure that no pets are advertised for swapping with other pets, services or goods
- ensure that species scheduled by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act are clearly marked as such and make clear to vendors that it is an offence to offer a species covered by EU Wildlife Trade Regulations Annex A and listed by CITES for sale without a valid Article 10 Certificate. Non-human primates should not be offered for sale.
- exclude any advert where there is a reasonable concern for the health and welfare of the animal involved
- provide a clearly visible function for purchasers to report illegal or inappropriate adverts
- ensure that no live vertebrates are advertised for sale as deliverable through the postal system, national or international
- require all vendors to state the country of residence from which the animal is being sold
- require all commercial vendors to provide Local Authority licence information when submitting an advertisement
These minimum standards are recommended by PAAG and endorsed by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. To view a video showcasing case studies of pets sold online, please follow this link.