Gumtree under pressure over internet pet sales


Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is calling for greater regulation to prevent irresponsible breeding and selling of pets.


By Nicolas Atkin

Gumtree are under pressure from a new campaign against internet pet sales.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is calling for greater regulation of advertising websites to prevent irresponsible breeding and selling of pets.

Gumtree currently has over 3500 for-sale pet adverts in London.

Battersea Communications Officer Jude Peppis said: “This easy accessibility and availability appears to be fuelling a mind-set that animals are part of our throw-away culture.”

Gumtree declined to comment.

Battersea’s Head of Intake Liz McWalter said in a press release: “Buying a pet is not like buying a new iPod.

“We need much stricter guidelines online to prevent thousands more dogs and cats ending up mistreated or abandoned.”

An RSPCA spokesman said: “We support any responsible pet ownership message, including how people get their animals.

“We advise anyone considering buying a dog to visit the seller, and never agree to buying an animal over the internet and have it delivered to them.”

Ms Peppis believes the problem is fuelled by backstreet breeding, and must be tackled at the source.

She said: “We would support local authorities changing housing tenancy agreements to restrict the number of dogs in a property and thereby prevent breeding and sale this way.

“We would also welcome a review of local authorities’ inspection and enforcement powers so that they can take action when inappropriate breeding is taking place in private residential premises.”

Colin Sevier, 57, of Wandsworth, advertised puppies on Gumtree last month but agrees with the campaign.

Mr Sevier said: “There should be restrictions – people should have a dog licence. We should take more responsibility looking after pets.”

He added: “There are responsible people out there but the minority let it down. They only use the dog for fighting, or an image thing.”

Mr Sevier believes a lot of people breed animals for the money, so he made sure to vet potential buyers.

He said: “I checked they had children and gardens – I wouldn’t let them go to just anyone.”

Paul Sheham, 34, of Wandsworth, also recently sold dogs on Gumtree.

“I’d agree with the campaign to stop mass breeding for the sake of just earning a quick buck,” Mr Sheham said.

“People aren’t thinking about the welfare of the parent, they’re just using them as a breeding machine.

“It’s a difficult situation because it’s something I don’t think anyone can stop.”

He added: “Owners have got to be careful. Nine times out of ten we’ll only sell to people who’ve got a family. I don’t sell to under 21s.”

Last year Battersea took in 6,917 dogs and 2,742 cats, equivalent to 17 dogs and 7 cats every day, at a cost of over £13million.

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