Beware of buying online


LoR is concerned about the growing trend towards purchasing puppies online.

With virtually no oversight of online sales, fraud abounds. Breeders and advertisers may falsely claim that their puppies come from pet dogs who live in their home as family members, when the dogs are actually housed in inhumane kennels or cages outside the home. A consumer who travels to the breeding facility to meet the animal may be duped by “storefront” homes with a healthy looking mother dog who may or may not actually be the mother of the puppy you purchase, while dozens of dogs languish a few doors down in the inhumane breeding facility where the puppy was actually born.

The ASPCA warns dog lovers that websites showcasing pictures of happy puppies playing in green fields could be fraudulent: “[t]here’s no way for you to know for sure if what you’re seeing on a puppy-sales website is real. Those irresistible images of the puppy you’ve been eyeing might get used repeatedly, or may have even been snatched from another seller’s site and used without permission”.

One animal welfare advocate relayed to LoR her experience visiting an inhumane breeding facility where she watched a breeder pull puppies out of barren wire cages, take them outdoors and drop them into a brightly colored wheelbarrow filled with fresh flowers, photograph them, and then promptly shove them back into the cages indoors. The photographs were to be used to advertise the puppies online.

There currently is no certification scheme, government or private, which ensures high animal welfare or humane standards of care on dog breeding facilities. Many online advertisements sell puppies with pedigree certification from dog breed registries such as the American Kennel Club or United Registry. Such certifications and registrations are meaningless from an animal welfare standpoint. These registries do not inspect the breeding facility and therefore cannot attest to the animal welfare conditions under which dogs are housed and bred, nor do they examine the mother or the puppy for health problems. As discussed elsewhere, a USDA license is also not an indicator of humane breeding. Therefore, there is no way to determine whether a puppy purchased online comes from a humane facility. A report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare suggests that the majority of dogs purchased online come from inhumane breeding facilities.

While many of the larger online retailers such as Amazon, Facebook, Craigslist, and Ebay have policies prohibiting the sale of live animals – there are many ways in which unscrupulous breeders and puppy dealers still manage to sell puppies on these websites. Furthermore, the web is filled with websites offering puppies for sale.

More information on the problems with online sales