New standards for pet advertising come out

6th July 2023
Industry News

An advisory body of veterinary, welfare and trade organisations has today (30 June) unveiled new standards for online pet advertising.

The revised guidelines from the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG), which has members including the BVA and BVNA, have been welcomed by the Government, and several aspects are already legal requirements in Great Britain.

Officials have now said they want to do more to “clean up” the digital marketplace for animals and buyers, amid a rising trend of would-be owners sourcing their pets in that way.

Cooperation ‘encouraging’

Dogs Trust veterinary director Paula Boyden, who chairs PAAG, said the continuing cooperation of several major platforms with the scheme was “encouraging”.

But she added: “We know that there is still more to be done to ensure best practice in the sale of pets online.”

The publication of the new rules, which replace the group’s minimum standards released in 2012, comes after the PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report 2023 found 65% of pet owners, equating to around 15 million animals, had found their pet online – up from 53% in 2022.

Data collected by 47 Labs also found that more than 800,000 adverts for cats, dogs and rabbits were posted on classified advertising websites last year.

New standards

Six elements of the guidelines have already been enshrined into law in England, Scotland and Wales, including:

  • stating the number of the licence holder’s licence
  • specifying the local authority that issued the licence
  • including a recognisable photograph of the animal being advertised (for cats and dogs only in Scotland)
  • displaying the age of the animal being advertised, except for fish
  • stating the country of residence of the animal from which it is being sold
  • stating the animal’s country of origin

Eight platforms – Freeads, Friday Media Group, Forever Puppy, Gumtree, Preloved, Pets4Homes, Puppy Choices and Wightbay – have committed themselves to adhering to the new standards.

Enhanced protection

Dr Boyden added: “We look forward to continuing to work with popular classified selling websites in order to help clean up the online marketplace and ensure online sales can be safe for both the animals involved and the buyers.”

Defra minister Lord Benyon said: “I am delighted to support the updated advertising standards announced by the [PAAG] today, which are backed by several of the country’s largest pet-selling platforms.

“These standards will help enhance existing protections and make it easier for inappropriate or illegal advertisements to be removed as soon as possible – assisting future pet owners to make informed decisions in the process.”

More details of the guidelines are available on the PAAG website.


Credit to:  New standards for pet advertising come out (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2023).  New standards for pet advertising come out [online]

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