Animal groups issue warning about online ads for pets

Pet advisory group launches campaign to promote responsible pet adoption

Animal welfare groups have warned that unscrupulous breeders are selling pets, particularly puppies, online in a bid to conceal the substandard and often dangerous conditions the dogs come from.

The Irish Pet Advisory Group (IPAAG) launched the #PuppyDotCon awareness campaign on Monday with a video demonstrating how easy it is to be fooled by rogue breeders. Monday also marks the first day of World Animal Week.

A recent survey carried out by an IT specialist for the group found more than 15,800 advertisements for puppies and dogs were placed on the site between February and August this year.

During the same period more than 1,700 cats, 9,700 equines, 550 reptiles and over 1,100 small mammals were also advertised on the pet pages.


The organisation said animal welfare organisations regularly heard from individuals and families who had purchased a pet from an online advertisement only for it to fall sick or even die soon afterwards.


IPAAG chair and chief executive of the ISPCA Dr Andrew Kelly said: "We always encourage prospective pet owners to consider adopting a pet from a reputable rescue organisation first. However, we do recognise that people will turn to their computers when looking to buy or sell almost anything at the click of a mouse and sadly pets are not exempt from this."

Dr Kelly said the organisation believed the best solution was to engage with online classified sites.

“DoneDeal are extremely cooperative and do everything they can to adhere to IPAAG’s minimum standards and remove advertisements in breach of these standards and that contain animal welfare concerns.”

The organisation has published a checklist on its website at for those considering getting a new pet.

Separately, Minister of State for Community and Rural Development Sean Kyne has said new guidelines due to come into effect on January 1st, 2019 will help ensure the highest standards are achieved by dog breeding establishments.

Mr Kyne answered questions from Independent TD Clare Daly in the Dáil last Thursday in which she raised concerns about a lack of enforcement by local authorities.

Ms Daly said she welcomed the Minister’s publication of the new dog breeding guidelines as promised.


“There are many positive inclusions on the conditions in which dogs are kept, the environment, health and welfare record keeping and so on. However, the problem is that they are still only guidelines and it is up to individual breeders to take them on,” she said.

She noted the guidelines stated 24 hours’ notice should be given of inspections which meant that those involved in unscrupulous activities had a “heads-up”.

“Even though subsequent visits are unannounced, I do not think local authorities have enough resources to make unannounced visits.

“Internet sales are particularly problematic. There were 126 dogs for sale on the Internet this morning. Illegal sales are continuing at an alarming rate,” Ms Daly said.

She noted a number of tragic cases over the summer.

"In May, 27 puppies were found in Scotland in a van that originated in Ireland. In July, 16 puppies were found in a horse trailer in Galway. They all died afterwards. In August, more than 100 dogs were rescued by the ISPCA. Earlier this month, a man was fined more than €1,000 by the District Court after 37 dogs were seized from his farm. The only penalty he received was to be banned from having dogs for 18 months. He should not be allowed to have dogs ever again."

Mr Kyne said he wanted to see “the highest standards achieved by dog breeding establishments” and the new guidelines would help to ensure that.