The images are difficult to look at—the reality is even worse!
The need to end animal suffering is great everywhere, but the power of compassion is equal to that need.
~ Scotlund Haisley, Animal Rescue Corps
Online ad sites sell pets bred by animal breeding mills and backyard breeders
It’s easy and quick, but buying any pet online—puppies, dogs, kittens cats or small animals—more often than not results in challenging, sometimes tragic circumstances for the new pet owners who are deceived by online ads into thinking they are purchasing healthy, happy pets. Puppy mills and backyard breeders are motivated solely by profit—there is little to no concern for the health and well-being of the animal, and no concern whatsoever about who purchases the pet! These sellers attempt to pass themselves off as reputable, caring and responsible breeders while their breeding animals spend their lives in deplorable, inhumane conditions, in small cages with no healthcare attention or concern for their basic requirements—they breed until they are physically unable to or until they die, or are abandoned in some remote field or the side of the road.
‘Backyard’ is generally an inaccurate description of individuals that mass produce pets for sale, animals rarely if ever see the light of day or a grassy backyard, as they are actually bred and housed in garages, farm buildings, trailers or sheds! The backyard breeder is the single greatest cause of pet overpopulation in Canada (No Puppy Mills Canada). When a pet is sold, they are given the only bath of their lives to clean them up for delivery, and the purchaser is usually directed to pick up the pet from a parking lot or other public location. They are never told the location of the breeding facility—many fake excuses are given for this practice, usually suggesting it’s easier for the purchaser!
In BC, puppy mills and for-profit breeders proliferate throughout the province— particularly in the Fraser Valley, Okanagan and Northern BC. Because puppy mill pets are raised in deplorable conditions with little human interaction, studies have shown that these pets run a high risk of having significant behavioral issues that may not be apparent to the buyer until the new pet is brought home. In addition, puppies and kittens sold by for-profit breeding facilities have a high chance of suffering from physical health issues due to malnourishment, filthy living conditions and little to no health care.
Success of pet store bans
While the recent successes in cities implementing bans on the sale of pets in pets stores have been significant—what we see now is that many irresponsible and unscrupulous commercial breeding operators have simply moved their sales operations to the online—primarily online ad sites such as Kijiji and Facebook. They exploit the ability to hide behind fake identities, and fake pet photographs and descriptions of healthy, happy pets. This makes it very challenging, if not impossible, for people looking for pets online to know exactly where the pet has come from and what its health and behavioural conditions truly are.
Campaign to end the sale of pets on online ad sites
You can help to end the suffering of animals bred and sold for profit—help us raise awareness of the issue, tell your friends and family that buying a pet online is supporting animal cruelty!
- Never buy from pet stores or online ad sites
- Educate friends and family
- Always choose you pet from a responsible shelter, rescue or breeder. See What is a Responsible Rescue? and What is a Responsible Breeder? below.
Look for our ads on buses, posters around Metro Vancouver and ads in community newspapers—you can also share the resources below to help get the message out.
Online Ad Sites & Websites
Beware of any ad site that sells pets, especially if they offer to ship that pet to you or do not provide the location where the animal lives. No matter how convincingly the sellers portray how well the dogs or cats are cared for, the reality could be dozens, sometimes hundreds, of pets warehoused for breeding and living in poor conditions. Commercial breeding facilities can only sell their animals in pet stores and online ad sites and websites. Keep in mind that anyone can create a website; there is no guarantee that the information presented on it is factual. Sometimes, the breeder will proclaim right on the site that the business is not a puppy mill. Unless you see firsthand where your puppy comes from, trusting the content on a website is risky, since it’s the perfect place for consumer fraud to occur.
Sign the petition asking Kijiji to stop selling pets: Sign here!
Multiple Facebook Groups exist solely for advertising pets for sale in communities throughout BC. A Fraser Valley auction site recently auctioned a young boxer pup for $90—no purchaser check, no home check! When you find any page on Facebook offering a pet for sale that is not clearly identified as a rescue or animal shelter that you can verify with an independent search on their information, then you have likely found a backyard breeder or a commercial breeder.
While Facebook claims to have a policy prohibiting the sale of animals in posts, their policy is not well-enforced and sellers are not always honest. A favourite ploy is to post that a pet needs to be ‘re-homed’. Once again, the only real way to ensure you are not supporting irresponsible, for-profit pet sellers is to go to the location the pet has been born and raised and see for yourself where the animal comes from.
Report all Facebook posts offering animals for sale—responsible rescues and shelters highlight the pets they have available for adoption or fostering on Facebook—they do NOT sell any pets through Facebook, they will always require you to complete an application and home check.
Visit our Pets Are Not Products page for full information on this program which advocates for bans on the sale of pets in pets stores.
Classified Ads in Newspapers
While the internet has become the primary tool to find a new pet, newspaper classifieds are still used by breeding facilities to advertise your pets. Beware of any ad that lists several breeds for sale, and remember it’s a red flag if the breeder offers to meet you anywhere other than the place where the pets are raised.
Mica was purchased from someone advertising her on Kijiji. The purchasers met the ‘breeder’ in a parking lot in Surrey to pick up Mica—and within 24 hours Mica was extremely sick. She was rushed to a veterinarian and diagnosed with Parvo, a deadly and highly contagious virus that is preventable through proper vaccination. Mica required four days of round-the-clock care costing thousands of dollars.
Thankfully her new guardians were not going to give up on her and Paws for Hope was able to help fund Mica’s medical care. Mica is now a happy and healthy dog! But make no mistake—Mica was a puppy that was sold as a perfectly healthy but almost died. Her story is not unique.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You’ll find letters, petitions, printable fliers, and postcards to help you spread the message to end the retail sale of animals in pet stores and online.
Thank you for helping to end animal suffering in BC.
Always choose your pets from
responsible shelters, rescues and breeders.
• Watch Best Friends Society video “What is a puppy mill?”
• Visit No Puppy Mills Canada to learn more about puppy mills.
• What is a Responsible Rescue?
Rescues fall under the same animal cruelty laws as the general public, but there are currently no laws or regulations that govern rescue organizations. Anyone can say they are a rescue; but what makes a rescue reputable? Here are some things to look for in a responsible rescue:
- Responsible rescues spay or neuter the animals prior to adoption.
- Responsible rescues vet check and vaccinate the animal you are adopting. The rescue should provide you with copy of any vet records the animal may have. If the rescue tells you they lost the paperwork or they cannot find it, request the name of the vet and call the vet to verify the information.
- A rescue should NOT charge exorbitant fees for the animal you are adopting. The goal is to try to cover most expenses, and/or a donation to the rescue.
- Not all rescues are registered charities, some are small non-profit, or not for profit.
- All rescues should have the animal in the best health possible before adopting. A good rescue will keep the animal in rescue until it is of a good weight and is as healthy as possible. If a rescue adopts out a animal with health issues they should be honest and upfront about the issue. They should also be honest about the animal’s temperament and or needs.
- A good rescue will do a home visit and spend time communicating with you. Rescues want to see that the animal is going to a good home and is going to an environment suitable for that particular animal. The goal is to make the best possible match for you and the animal.
- All rescues should have a contract upon adopting the animal. They should state clearly that they will always take the animal back, for any reason at any time.
- The pet should be microchipped or tattooed.
- Responsible rescues will provide resources for training and or advice. Rescues want to see the new home work out for the animal and will offer support.
- Responsible rescues should let you come and view their location BUT some times the location is a private home and not all want to share their private home with you. They should want you to meet the animal a few times to be sure it’s a good match.
Remember these are just guidelines—it is important you do adequate research before adopting any pet.
dog to your house.
• What is a Responsible Breeder?
Defined by the Canada Animal Pedigree Act, a purebred dog is a dog that has parents of the same breed that are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club. One cannot sell a dog as purebred without papers from the registry! Remember up to 30% of dogs in shelters are pure bred dogs and many rescue organizations specialize in specific breed rescue.
The best place to find a reputable/responsible breeder is to check with specific breed clubs or the find registered breeders on the Canadian Kennel Club site.
A reputable breeder:
- Takes responsible care of all animals providing for all of the animal’s needs for healthcare, socialization and enjoyment of life.
- Belongs to a national, and/or local, breed club.
- Abides by the breed club’s Code of Ethics.
- Tests their breeding stock for any congenital diseases, conditions (ie: hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand’s Disease, retinal dyslasia, etc.), and strives to eliminate genetic problems by breeding only sound dogs—shown to be free of any serious physical conditions and/or temperament problems.
- Only breeds animals that have excellent temperaments.
- Is very knowledgeable about their breed.
- Strives to better their breed.
- Immunizes their animals appropriate for location and age of pups/dogs.
- Screens potential owners thoroughly, and does not sell to those who are unsuitable. A reputable breeder wants to know about you, your household, your schedule and your ability to properly care for a puppy throughout its entire lifetime, this may include an application, reference and home check.
- Educates potential owners, and discloses any pertinent information about their breed.
- Has a spay and neuter contract or alters animals prior to sale
- Offers new puppy owners guidance and support or the animal’s entire lifetime.
- NEVER sells animals to pet brokers, pet shops or puppy outlets of any kind (including so-called “Kennel Clubs”). Period. Many pet stores and puppy outlets tell prospective puppy buyers that their puppies come from reputable breeders, even though the large majority of these places actually get their puppies from puppy mills, brokers and commercial breeding facilities.
- Shows, trials and/or titles their dogs or cats.
- Supports or participates in breed rescue work whenever possible.
- Never over-breeds.
- Will take back an animal at any time.
Banner Photo Credit: Amiee Stubbs, Animal Rescue Corps