Thinking of buying a pet?

What to lookout for when buying a pet


Owning a pet is normally an expensive long term commitment and unfortunately there are far too many internet adverts that encourage impulse buying. A photo of a cute cuddly animal with as little information as possible is geared to encourage impulse buying. The Cyprus Pet Advertising Advisory Group (CYPAAG) minimum standards mean that those websites who make their money out of displaying adverts have the opportunity to take responsibility for what can be found on their site. By agreeing to the standards a website is committed not to host an advert that have been framed in a way that may encourage the gullible to make a purchase they are likely to regret.

CYPAAG compliant sites will have agreed to provide the necessary information to allow a buyer to make an informed choice about whether or not to view the animal. Purchasers will be able to know such vital information about the animal as its age, behaviours, or physical condition.

It is our hope that the minimum standards will help to address some of the problems that we identified with the online advertising of pets, such as poor standards of welfare, lack of information on its history, the offloading of sick or potentially terminaly ill animals, dealers masquerading as private sellers, and pets being swapped or ending up in the hands of unsuitable owners such as dog fighters.

A ban on the advertising of pets online is an unrealistic solution to the problem. We have to accept that many people now choose to look for their pet online. In much the same way as the internet is the first choice for finding a job, a home and a partner. It would be short sighted to suggest that a complete ban on the sale of pets over the internet would deal with the problem of people ending up with the wrong pet. In fact it is more likely to push the problems underground and onto sites which are owned and based outside Cyprus and would not be willing to comply with any standards.

Many responsible breeders of pets choose to advertise online, this is the reality of the situation and it is unlikely to change. Welfare organisations also use the internet to advertise the animals they have for rehoming. This is an important outlet for rescue and rehoming organisations to show potential rehomers the animals they have in their care that are looking for forever homes. Welfare organisations use the internet to advise potential pet owners to consider adopting a rescue animal rather than going to a breeder.

The internet also provides the opportunity to circulate information for potential pet owners on what to look for and factors to consider when buying.  This is in the best interests of  both the animal and the owner. We feel dedicated consumer awareness campaigns and the implementation of minimum standards for online adverting will be much more likely to encourage more responsible purchase and sale in the longer term  than an outright ban on online advertising.

The cooperation of websites is key to the success of the CYPAAG minimum standards. We feel that the best way to ensure that websites comply is through public demand for higher standards and better adverts. As the pet owning public become more aware of the standards they can begin to move away from those sites which do not insist on minimum standards for the adverts they host.  It is hoped that this will lead to a decrease in traffic to the worst sites which should provide an incentive to improve and ensure that all adverts comply with the CYPAAG minimum standards.

As well as consumers choosing to use the best sites, which only host advertisements which meet the minimum standards, we also believe that engaged members of the public will proactively report adverts which do not meet the standards.  A number of welfare organisations have in place a dedicated group of volunteer moderators who look at adverts (of all pet species) and report those that don’t meet the standards directly to the websites concerned.   The trade association representatives on CYPAAG will also deal with questions  about adverts that potentially infringe good welfare standards.

All members of CYPAAG are committed to educating the public about the online pet sales environment, and encouraging consumer awareness and cooperation to improve animal welfare.

There is still more work to be done by CYPAAG to identify sites that provide classified pet advertising and to encourage them to adopt and meet the CYPAAG minimum standards. As the leading sites improve it is likely that a proportion of the bad adverts they host will move onto other, smaller sites. It is important that CYPAAG continues to identify and reach out to all sites.