Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the campaign about?

    The Pet Deception campaign is an international campaign by FOUR PAWS to raise awareness of the potential risks faced by animals being sold as pets online, as well as the risks faced by people using classified ad sites to find a pet. The campaign gives an insight into which classified ad sites pose risks, due to not introducing adequate measures to protect animals and people. FOUR PAWS is asking all classified ad sites in the countries where we operate to introduce FOUR PAWS measures. The measures have been developed to help improve animal welfare, site security and site transparency. FOUR PAWS has also developed a comparison tool which compares the different sites in terms of the measures they have introduced, to identify which are the best and which are the worst sites at keeping pets and people safe.

  • What research has FOUR PAWS carried out?

    FOUR PAWS has carried out research in 10 countries where we operate which has included monitoring 42 classified ad sites for up to 12 months for illegal, inappropriate and misleading ads, as well as placing test ads to check if the sites are enforcing their own terms of use (site rules). FOUR PAWS has gathered evidence in the form of screenshots showing ads which clearly violate the site's rules, are illegal and show poor animal welfare. FOUR PAWS has contacted the majority of sites ranked on our comparison tool to discuss introducing our measures. While some sites have been very open to improving their standards, others have shown little interest in protecting the people who use their site to find a pet and the animals being advertised.

  • What are FOUR PAWS key measures?

    The key measures that FOUR PAWS has developed include verifying the sellers identity prior to opening an account, pre checking of the pet adverts before they go live to remove any inappropriate, misleading and illegal adverts, and including in the advert certain mandatory information on an animal being sold as a pet - such as details on the age, gender, health and documentation of an animal. Certain animals should be banned from being advertised as pets, for example wild caught animals, primates, and protected species. For full information on the measures and their purpose, please click here. SHOULD LINK TO /en/measures-information

  • How are the sites ranked?

    The sites have been ranked according to which measures they have introduced to protect the animals sold on, and the people using their site. A ranking tool has rated each site using a points system. Some measures are more important than others and are ranked higher according to how they directly impact on animal welfare, site safety and transparency. The sites have the opportunity to improve their ranking by introducing different FOUR PAWS measures which in turn will help to protect both animals and people. For information on the ranking system, please click here

  • How often will the sites be ranked?

    The sites will be ranked approximately every 3 months according to the measures they have introduced. They will also be monitored to check that their terms of use (site rules) are being effectively enforced.

  • Why is FOUR PAWS only focusing on certain sites in certain countries?

    We are campaigning in the countries where we have offices and therefore local knowledge of the markets and classified ad sites. We have focused on a number of the more commonly used sites in each country according to our resource capability.

  • What will happen to the sites that do nothing?

    Our comparison tool quickly identifies those sites which are not protecting animals and people. We are targetting some of the market leaders at the start of our campaign through our communications, microsite, press releases and petition. We are calling on them to lead the way and show how classified ad sites should be regulated. We will also target the worst sites in the coming months as part of our campaign. It is vital that all classified ad sites acknowledge that they have a role to play in facilitating responsible selling and buying of animals online and introduce FOUR PAWS measures.

  • Why is FOUR PAWS asking for the sites to introduce measures and not asking for a ban on the selling of pets online?

    Over the last decade the way in which pets are sold and bought has changed rapidly, with many people now choosing to search for a pet online via classified ad sites. These sites connect sellers with potential buyers. If properly regulated they enable responsible local breeders to sell to responsible local buyers. However these sites currently are open to being exploited by illegal, commercial and irresponsible sellers due to lack of appropriate standards. FOUR PAWS would like to see classified ad sites introduce robust measures to help protect pets being sold on their sites and to facilitate responsible selling and buying of animals. A total ban of animal sales online would mean that the trade may go to more dubious places to sell animals, where it would be far more difficult to monitor and regulate the trade. FOUR PAWS has therefore taken a pragmatic approach and developed measures which we believe will immediately help to protect both animals and people. If these measures are introduced by classified ad sites and robustly enforced it will help to facilitate the responsible selling and buying of animals online.

  • Are there only bad sellers on classified ad sites?

    No there are both good and bad sellers. Our campaign is designed to protect responsible sellers (as well as buyers) by reducing illegally and irresponsible selling of pets on classified ad sites.

  • If a site is ranked green does that mean it is guaranteed safe?

    Our measures have been introduced to reduce illegal, inappropriate and misleading ads and promote responsible selling, while we can’t guarantee 100% safety, we believe our measures will greatly reduce the risk posed to both pets and people and that those sites ranked green are the safest sites from which to acquire pets.

  • How does this campaign align with PAAG’s measures in the UK?

    The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) has put together a list of minimum standards for classified ad sites in the UK. Many of FOUR PAWS measures are the same as PAAG’s minimum standards however we believe that classified ad sites need to go further in addressing illegal, misleading and inappropriate selling of animals on their sites by introducing additional measures. These include verifying the sellers identity to stop anonymous selling, introducing pre checking of ads so that all ads are checked before they go live to remove misleading, inappropriate and illegal ads and introducing mandatory information on the animal in the ad to provide the buyer with important care, health and documentation details. This will help the buyer make an informed decision on whether the animal is suitable for them and will help reduce impulse purchasing.

  • Why is FOUR PAWS asking the sites to self regulate, when proper legislation is required to regulate the selling of animals online?

    We believe that both are important and that it is necessary to take a multi-pronged approach, including calling for legislative change, encouraging classified ad sites to improve their standards by introducing our measures and raising awareness amongst the public on the risks of buying animals online and the importance of buying responsibly.

  • What about the selling of animals on Facebook and closed forums?

    FOUR PAWS is strictly against the sale of pets via social media sites such as Facebook and online forums. These sites are not set up to be used for the selling of animals and our measures cannot be implemented. Therefore the welfare of an animal cannot be guaranteed, especially if an animal is sold in closed groups, where access is restricted and the site cannot be monitored. FOUR PAWS is lobbying for statutory regulation of these sites to prevent animal sales.

  • How can I support the campaign?

    There are a number of ways in which you can support the Pet Deception campaign:

    Sign the petition – the more signatures we have the more we can show the biggest classified ad sites that they need to take the lead and adopt our measures to protect animals sold on their sites.

    Spread the word – tell your friends and family about the Pet Deception campaign and ask them to sign our petition

    Donate – with your support we are able to campaign on behalf of animals around the world and improve the way in which they are treated.