Blue Cross unveils shocking figures in new European online pet sales report with EU Dog & Cat alliance

Posted On: 
28th September 2017

Leading British pet charity Blue Cross has unveiled shocking statistics and cases of illegal and unethical selling of pets online across Europe through its partnership with the EU Dog and Cat Alliance, a body dedicated to improving the welfare of cats and dogs across Europe. 

A snapshot count of online adverts for dogs and cats in 21 European countries revealed that 400,579 dogs and 104,318 cats were advertised for sale on a given day; thousands of exotic animals were also offered for sale. Many of the pets for sale were found to have health problems, were underweight, too young or no age shown at all.

Within the survey, an incredible 95% of charities surveyed perceived there to be a problem with online sales of pets in their country – a statistic that showcases that there is a real problem and one that needs action. Common themes found among the ads included the sale of animals that are too young or in ill health, as well as a lack of animal welfare information.

On some websites, Blue Cross found that purchasing animals impulsively was even encouraged, with financial loan options highlighted to entice those who couldn’t afford a pet, to purchase one immediately anyway.

The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) a body dedicated to improving the standard of advertising of pets on classified websites, has had huge success in both the UK and Ireland. Blue Cross recently launched the first PAAG group in mainland Europe, BelgPAAG in Belgium, which the charity hopes will be equally successful.

The results of the recent Blue Cross study show that there is a definite need across Europe for action on online sales through these types of self-regulatory groups.  

Becky Thwaites, Head of Public Affairs, Blue Cross said: “The findings from our report on the online sale of pets in Europe has shocked us all. The cases of unscrupulous breeders and sellers who prioritise profit over welfare is clearly a growing problem that needs to be tackled.

“We have seen the success that PAAG in the UK has had in removing inappropriate ads, improving the standard of advertising and most importantly, improving the welfare of the animals, and we are confident that the same can be achieved across Europe with additional groups being set up in more European countries. We ask that MEPs support us in the creation of further PAAG groups in their countries so that together we can fix the problem.”

The Blue Cross Public Affairs team, alongside the EU Dog and Cat Alliance, launched the report in the European Parliament on 27 September 2018, which resulted in Marco Valletta, Member of the Cabinet of European Commissioner for Health & Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, committing to supporting its new European Pet Advertising Advisory Group initiative.

The group continue to urge anyone thinking of taking on a pet not to buy them on a whim online. PAAG groups are encouraging people to do as much research as possible when buying a pet online, to avoid becoming victims by sellers who pay little attention to the welfare of the animals being sold.

The coalition’s recent launch of BelgPAAG marked the third pet advisory group to be set up in Europe, sitting alongside PAAG UK and IPAAG. This initiative will see Blue Cross working collaboratively with colleagues across Europe as part of the EU Dog and Cat Alliance. The alliance has future plans to launch other PAAGs across Europe to help tackle the growing problem of poor animal welfare standards associated with the online sale of pets.