Paw Justice has launched a campaign against online auction website Trade Me called ‘Don’t Trade Me’ to pressure the site to enforce rules to stop puppy milling.
As part of the campaign, Paw Justice sold advertisements to raise money for the campaign on Trade Me. All of the ads sold out within the first five hours.
The video for the campaign says: “Every year thousands of puppies are sold online in New Zealand. Often these puppies start their lives in tiny, filth-ridden cages, innocently burdened with ongoing injury and illness. There are no rules about how puppies sold online are bred; sellers don’t need permits, vet checks and site visits, and they can overbreed their dogs without public knowledge or consequence.”
It also notes that “puppies” is one of the most popular search terms on the site, and in 2014, over 35,000 cats and dogs were sold on the site.
Trade Me head of trust and safety Jon Duffy says the company is happy to take information from sources that suggest animals being sold are being maltreated.
“We regularly work with the SPCA on animal welfare issues,” Duffy says.
“However, both the SPCA and Trade Me can only act on solid evidence and unfortunately, as this is an emotive issue we regularly see members jumping to conclusions and providing information about alleged maltreatment that turns out to be inaccurate when investigated by the SPCA.”
He says some of the issues raised by Paw Justice go beyond Trade Me’s responsibilities as an auction site.
“Some of the other issues move into the realm of the Animal Welfare Act and these issues should probably be more appropriately directed at the Ministry for Primary Industries for a law change, rather than Trade Me," he says.
"Enforcing an age range for breeding dogs, for example, is something that could not realistically be done by Trade Me – and nor should it, we are a commercial entity, not a public sector enforcement agency.”
Puppy mills in New Zealand made headlines in 2013 after 11 puppies from The Pet Centre stores in Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Porirua died due to illnesses brought on from being too young to be taken away from their mothers.
The same large-scale breeder, who bred the puppies in a 200 square metre barn, supplied all the puppies to the store.
Now, puppies are a scarcer sight in pet stores these days.
Breeders tend to bypass the shops to sell the pets directly to buyers on websites like Trade Me.
Trade Me’s dogs for sale category shows 13,412 listings.
Paw Justice has proposed six regulations for anyone breeding and selling dogs online.
Some of the proposed regulations include each dog must be microchipped and the dog must be between the age two and six.
Trade Me has responded to Paw Justice and indicated it intends on implementing some new regulations on its site.