London, 26th August – Anonymity and lack of transparency has previously benefited unscrupulous puppy traders, but today the global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS in partnership with Europetnet, the international missing pet portal, is launching PetSAFE. This ground-breaking technical solution will verify that anyone advertising a dog online is the registered keeper of the dog, and thereby prevent dogs being sold anonymously online.
Over the past 13 years FOUR PAWS has campaigned tirelessly to eradicate the illegal puppy market with a focus on regulating the online trade. Intended to create a fully traceable online pet trade, PetSAFE will protect both buyers and animals, and eradicate unscrupulous dealers. Says Emily Wilson, FOUR PAWS UK Head of Campaigns: “We knew that a safer online pet trade was possible and are delighted that via PetSAFE we can block access to the online marketplaces for those unscrupulous sellers who were abusing it for commercial gain. For far too long the puppy trade has been favoured because of its high return and low risk ratio, but with today’s launch this all changes. No longer will anonymous sellers be able to advertise dogs for sale and then transport said chosen puppy thousands of miles to the door of the unsuspecting buyer. PetSAFE represents security and protection for the pets and buyers and ensures there is full traceability should anything go wrong.”
Tracing the Trade
Online classifieds have often been considered a haven for illegal puppy sellers who wish to remain anonymous. Buyers are frequently unable to contact sellers if anything goes wrong with the puppy after purchase, such as ill health. But anyone using dogs.ie to find a puppy can be assured that all dogs advertised are microchipped and registered to the person advertising them. Identifying details, such as name, telephone number and address, are kept in the pet's registration data. These details can be provided to law enforcement authorities should anything go wrong following transaction and are key to bringing an end to the anonymous nature of the trade. In this way, responsible breeders, shelters and anyone looking to rehome a pet can still advertise, but those evading the law will lose access to the online market.
Paul Savage’s classified ad site Dogs.ie is the first to implement the system, together with the Irish pet registry Fido. “My motivation to join this initiative derived from the need for better controls. We strive to provide a safer market for pets and consumers, it is close to difficult to differentiate if the ad is from a responsible breeder or an unscrupulous dealer“ says Savage, concluding “the validation of ads with registration data gives us the means to better monitor the market and efficiently inform the authorities about suspected illegal puppy dealers. Fido-validated ads will be highlighted. We hope all Irish pet registration databases join and provide their data to the ad checks, as Dogs.ie plans to ban advertisements that do not undergo the checks after the transition to the international PetSAFE system later in 2021, to fully comply with the project’s requirements.”
Michel Schoffeniels, president of Europetnet: “Utilising Europetnet’s unique expertise in this area, and working with FOUR PAWS, we believe that PetSAFE is a major step forward in the fight against the illegal puppy supply trade, and are proud of our continued innovation in Ireland which is again at the forefront of proper Identification and Registration systems and legislation.”
The first step
PetSAFE has received widespread support from classified ad sites, pet registries, vets, authorities and politicians. It is hoped that whilst Ireland has taken the first ground-breaking steps, they will soon be followed by others keen to implement PetSAFE in their countries.
In a bid to eradicate the trade earlier this year FOUR PAWS UK, together with Animal Protection Services, launched an online form which those who suspect they have been the victim of the illegal puppy trade or an unlicensed breeder, can report their case to. Investigators and prosecutors will scrutinize every report to build a case to take to court. Last month in a ground-breaking turn of events, 42 cases were heard at courts across the country. To find out more visit https://www.four-paws.org.uk/campaigns-topics/topics/companion-animals/traceability