You may have heard about the recent worrying trend of pets being sold through online sites. False information is often advertised, leading to sellers making fast money and buyers leaving pets at shelters that failed to meet expectations. Animals are being treated as commodity to be sold on for a price without any regard for their welfare. Online selling of pets is increasingly becoming a problem. If you are thinking about getting a new pet, visit a shelter where staff get to know the animals they take in and the type of home they would be most suited to, rather than purchasing from an online seller.
Online sites such as Gumtree enable anyone to sell just about anything. The accessibility of the internet means that advertising something has never been easier, and this includes pets. Selling a dog is not the same as selling a DVD that you’ve become bored with, or an old version of a games console to be replaced by a new one. Animals are living beings that are being treated as objects so sellers can make some quick money, and it needs to stop.
Animals are sold for various reasons in this way. If someone can’t afford to look after their pet anymore, they think they can make some money by selling them as opposed to receiving no money from surrendering them to a shelter. They don’t know anything about the person they are selling to, who could prove to be an unsuitable owner for many reasons. Someone with an animal’s best interests that was no longer able to look after their pet would leave them at a shelter, where they know they will be cared for in the best way possible until a new home is found. Others are driven purely by profit, obtaining animals and seeking quick sales. A lot of animals sold in this way are mistreated and malnourished, demonstrating that sellers are not interested in the welfare of the animal, but rather how much money they can get for them.
Often, animals bought via such means are falsely advertised, meaning that buyers give them up to shelters because the pet isn’t what they thought it would be. Online sellers have been known to misrepresent or fail to disclose animals’ ages, medical problems, and behavioural issues amongst other things. There have also been instances of people being approached in public areas by others looking to sell animals. Buying an animal from an unknown source is a dangerous situation to put you and your family in. A dog advertised as being good with children could actually have behavioural problems that mean they shouldn’t be around them. Similarly, an animal could have underlying medical issues that you weren’t made aware of, costing you thousands in vet bills. It is also difficult to insure a dog or cat that you don’t know much about. An animal needs to be gradually introduced to you so you can have the chance to get to know them, and only then can you decide whether they would make a suitable pet.
Shelter staff are knowledgeable about the animals they keep and can tell you about their background, temperament, plus the type of home that would be most suitable for them. All information is disclosed to help you decide whether an animal is right for you. At shelters, the welfare of the animal is considered before anything else, and prospective owners are matched to what would be the most suitable pet for them. The animals are assessed for a period of time to determine their medical state, temperament and any behavioural issues. People are also rigorously assessed so that shelter staff can have complete confidence in their ability to provide a pet with the care they need. There are repeated opportunities to visit the animal before taking it home, plus shelters will often carry out home visits. None of this scrupulous assessment takes place with an online purchase, so there is no way of knowing whether the animal would make a suitable pet for you.
Furthermore, pets can sometimes be adopted from shelters absolutely free, or for a small adoption fee. Although many animals are sold online for a very small price, this indicates that the seller wants to get rid of the animal quickly and you need to consider why that would be. Sellers can sometimes exploit buyers by charging hundreds of pounds for a pet that has a number of issues. Even if you have to pay an adoption fee at a shelter, you are paying for peace of mind because you know exactly what you are getting. You know that you will be adopting a healthy pet that will usually have been spayed or neutered, treated for fleas and worms and microchipped.
Do not be tempted to buy a pet online. You can’t trust the person you are buying from, so there is no guarantee that the pet you receive will be the one that was advertised. Give a rescue animal the second chance they deserve by adopting from a shelter. It is the right thing to do for you and your pet.