After rescuing three dogs from the pitfalls of online pet sales, animal welfare charity Mayhew is asking owners not to list pets on sites like Gumtree, but instead use the safer alternatives they offer for rehoming unwanted animals.

For owners who find themselves needing to rehome an animal for whatever reason, selling or giving a pet away online can feel like a quick and easy solution. But Mayhew warns that selling an animal through a third-party site such as Gumtree poses risks to their health, welfare and happiness – and can also be dangerous as well as costly for both buyers and sellers.

When purchasing a pet online, there is no existing way to check or authenticate the breed, health or welfare of the animal you are buying (or the credentials of the person selling it) – and no experts on hand to support the buyer, seller or animal itself through the process of rehoming.

This could result in people taking home a sick, injured or incompatible animal, or giving up a beloved pet into the arms of someone with wrong intentions for the animal – or is just plainly unsuitable to look after a dog. Gumtree acknowledged the problem by introducing a paywall in its ‘pets’ category to discourage casual trading, but it is clear that more needs doing.

Brave and Shadow’s story

Chihuahua puppies Brave and Shadow were born to an unneutered mother earlier this year. The pregnancy was unexpected and the owner quickly found herself overwhelmed and unable to cope with the new additions to the family. Wanting to rehome them as soon as possible, she turned to Gumtree, listing them for sale.

No serious offers were made; as time went on the owner became desperate and luckily turned to Mayhew for help. She signed them over to the charity’s care and an Adoption Officer was able to collect Brave and Shadow straight away.

After giving them both a thorough health check, the puppies were matched to two perfect new owners, who each underwent an adoption interview and a home check before taking them home. Unlike when selling pets online, Vets and Adoption Officers were on hand to support Brave and Shadow’s old and new owners during every step of rehoming process, making the transition for the puppies as stress-free as possible.

Brave’s new owner, Patricia, said, “Brave is settling into his new family life, and although at times he looks a little worried, his confidence is growing steadily day by day. He is so intelligent and playful, and a great addition to our home – we are so glad we found him.”

Loki’s story

Loki, a Staffy/Collie/Greyhound crossbreed, was a beloved pet who had lived with his original owner for a year. However, after finding herself in a difficult situation Loki’s owner had to give him up.

Needing to rehome Loki as soon as possible, the owner listed him on Gumtree, hoping a new owner would come forward quickly. To her relief, someone did – only for it not to work out; seeing Loki return to his original owner after only a few days.

Luckily for him, Loki’s listing had been spotted by Mayhew’s Adoption Officers who contacted the owner to ask if she would like to be part of our Rehome From Home scheme instead.

The Rehome From Home process allows pets to live at home until a new owner is found – minimising the stress from staying in kennels. Adoption Officers are able to collect an animal from its existing home and bring it in to Mayhew for veterinary treatment, health and behavioural checks, and can also help to provide food and care whilst the animal finds a new family.

Third party ban

Whilst not everyone who tries to buy or sell an animal on sites like Gumtree has a hidden agenda, they unarguably offer deceptive breeders and sellers a way of duping the general public into spending hundreds or thousands of pounds on abused, unwell or unsuitable animals. It also allows unscrupulous individuals with less than loving intentions to easily find and buy animals online.

Recently, the law which bans third party puppy and kitten sales has been laid in parliament and will come into force 6 April 2020. Together with tighter licensing and breeding laws, this ban will make it more difficult for younger animals to be sold on third party sites such as Gumtree.

Along with fellow animal welfare charities, Mayhew are also urging existing and prospective pet owners to visit a shelter when looking to relinquish or adopt a four legged friend of any age.

To find out more about Mayhew’s Rehome From Home Scheme and to see Loki’s online profile please visit their website.

Images by Mayhew

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