While the internet is a great way to research and look for your new best friend, you should absolutely avoid buying a pet online. Poor practices can place animals at serious risk, and can also mean consumers risk being deceived and disappointed.
Of course, looking for a pet online is quite different to regular online shopping. And with so many things to consider before getting a pet, (e.g. age, vaccinations, breed, health, etc.) it can be a little overwhelming.
If you decide to use the internet to start your search for a new pet, make sure you follow our tips to avoid supporting cruel puppy farms or unscrupulous breeders.
1. Make adoption your first option
- Visit a reputable rescue organisation first, such as www.adoptapet.com.au. RSPCA shelters around the country often have dogs and cats of particular breeds as well as mixed breeds and various ages, from puppies and kittens to senior pets.
2. Don't buy blind
- Never buy a pet sight unseen, and be very suspicious about any seller who encourages you to do so (through, for example, offering 'delivery available').
- Always meet your new pet and, if it is a puppy or kitten, meet its mother (and father, if possible) before purchasing your new pet.
3. Only use responsible websites
- Look for websites that follow the RSPCA Guidelines for the Online Advertising of Pets. These guidelines have been developed to ensure online sales platforms don't encourage or support irresponsible practices that place animals at risk.
- Unfortunately, there are currently no commercial online retailers in Australia who comply fully with these guidelines. Get in touch with your favourite retailer if you like, to encourage them to start following the RSPCA Guidelines for the Responsible Sale of Pets Online.
4. Follow our guides
- Follow the Smart Puppy and Dog Buyer's Guide to help you find, choose and care for your new dog.
- There's a Smart Guide to adopting a cat or kitten as well.
- These guides will help you right through the process, from choosing what type of pet you'd like to bring into your home, to settling in your new pet in those first days with your family.
5. Be informed
- Before you decide on a breed, research the potential health issues facing your chosen breed and only buy from a reputable breeder who acknowledges and tests for these issues.
- If the breeder downplays or dismisses your concerns, this should be a big red flag.
6. Report breaches
- Many online sales platforms rely on their community to let them know when someone is doing the wrong thing. So if you're looking for pets online and come across an ad that doesn't meet their rules or our Guidelines, report the ad to the website administrators before moving on.