SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, is sponsoring Blue Cross to take its campaign on online pet sales directly to the Scottish Parliament this week.

The national animal welfare charity is calling for changes in legislation to protect the tens of thousands of pets sold online each year.

There are currently no laws around the selling of animals online. The invisibility of sellers who advertise through websites means that vulnerable pets are at risk of being exploited by sellers who remove kittens and puppies from their mums too early, do not get them vaccinated against deadly diseases, and keep them in poor conditions where they do not get used to everyday sights and sounds.

This means that they are likely to grow into fearful, stressed adults – who may then get discarded and abandoned through no fault of their own.

In 2017 alone, there were over 40,000 adverts selling dogs, cats and rabbits in Scotland across just three websites.[i]

After investigating a sample of over 1,800 Scottish online adverts, Blue Cross found that around half of the cats, dogs and rabbits offered for rehoming online were under a year old and already looking for at least their second new home.

The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2017-18 included a commitment to develop plans for a new modern system of licensing for the breeding, dealing and selling of dogs, cats and rabbits. It also committed to preparing legislation for a modern system of registration and licensing of animal sanctuaries and rehoming activities.

These moves have been warmly welcomed by Blue Cross, which is calling for the following changes to the law:

  • Registration and licensing of all pet sellers, including online
  • Regulation of animal sanctuaries and rescue centres
  • No pet sold without correct care advice

Commenting, Ruth said:

“The scale of pets being advertised and sold online is a real cause for concern. Many sellers are unlicensed and some prioritise profit over animal welfare.

“It is essential that the Scottish Government look at outdated pet sales legislation and ensure all sellers are part of a system of registration and licensing – and I welcome the commitment to doing this in the recent Programme for Government.

“I am pleased to sponsor the Blue Cross in the Scottish Parliament this week and hope that MSPs from all parties take the opportunity to pledge their support for legislative change to ensure that all pets in Scotland are bred, sold and rehomed responsibly.”

Head of Public Affairs at Blue Cross, Becky Thwaites, added:

“We are grateful to Ruth Maguire MSP for sponsoring this week’s exhibition in Parliament so that we can engage with MSPs about our research.

“We know that many constituents write to their MSPs about their concerns on these issues, so it’s great to have the opportunity to provide them with more information on the situation in their own constituencies and regions.

“It is easy for irresponsible pet sellers to dupe people into thinking they are buying responsibly and it is very encouraging to see the Scottish Government take active steps to help people become better aware so they can avoid supporting those who benefit from unscrupulous sales of pets.”

[i] Research taken from Gumtree, Preloved and Pets4Homes websites