South African Web Classifieds “Bite Back” against Online Pet Traders

South African Web Classifieds  “Bite Back” against Online Pet Traders
Wednesday, 16 July, 2014
Cape Town, South Africa

In what is being touted as a world first, all three of South Africa’s major online trading sites are adopting a joint advertising policy aimed at stamping out dubious online pet trade.

Gumtree South Africa, Junk Mail and OLX, have announced an outright ban on sales of “fighting breed” dogs, all “free to good home” pets, sales of exotic reptiles mammals and sales of indigenous reptiles and mammals, including primates, birds and arachnids.

OLX has gone one step further and has also banned the sale of puppies under eight weeks old, and is banning the online sale of pets by pet shops.

“Next to cars, the online advertising of pets is the most significant section of most online classifieds and an important revenue earner for them. This is a milestone that strikes a blow against the cruelty that results from online pet trading, and will seriously disrupt the activities of puppy mills, dog fighting syndicates and illegal trade in exotic and indigenous animals,” Dr Smaragda Louw of Ban Animal Trading South Africa and Beauty Without Cruelty.

“As far as we know this is the first time in the world that the main online classified sites in a single country have decided to forgo profits and work together in the interests of animal welfare. Importantly they have decided to work with the animal welfare community to establish an online pet advertising policy.”

Puppy mills are commercial dog breeding facilities that focus on profit above animal welfare, and where dogs are often force bred in appalling conditions. OLX recently said they had deleted 636 adverts placed by one individual found to be the owner of a puppy mill owner.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said the online trading of pets was dubious as its anonymity allowed for animal abuse.

“Criminals, such as dog fighting syndicates, use online classifieds to trade in specific breeds; whereas the ‘free to good home’ sections literally condemn animals to an uncertain and frequently very cruel future,” said Cora Bailey, of IFAW and founder of Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) a project that provides animal welfare support to disadvantaged communities.

“The move by Gumtree, Junkmail and OLX to reform their pet advertising policy is an enormous breakthrough for animal welfare. We’re hoping that the print industry will follow next.

“People looking for pets should be visiting their nearest pet shelter to adopt. There are thousands of pets looking for homes. There is no need to be supporting puppy mills or unscrupulous breeders.”


About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters