With Christmas on the way, animal charities and welfare organisations are flagging up the dangers around online and social media pet ads that can lead to impulse buying of very young, unhealthy and misrepresented kittens.
Online classified ads account for a staggering 400,000 dogs and 100,000 cats advertised for sale through online pet shops, breeders and social media. Based on a survey by Blue Cross and the EU Dog and Cat Alliance, 57% of pet purchases were made through online and social media pet ads. Of those surveyed, 95% reported problems with online pet ads ranging from fraudulent ID, banned breeds, false advertising and concerns for the animal’s health.
Lack of the most basic health and welfare information
Complaints included a lack of the most basic health and welfare information. Many of the puppies and kittens advertised were too young to be separated from their mothers and litter-mates. Many were underweight, ill-adjusted to life as a pet, un-chipped and even pregnant.
Most animal welfare experts agree that kittens and pups shouldn’t be separated from their mother and litter-mates before eight weeks old. Many professional breeders won’t allow separation until twelve weeks, permitting a naturally gradual, rather than abrupt, end to nursing. Pups and kittens taken from their litters too soon miss out on the social development vital to a well-adjusted, contented and confident pet.
First Vaccinations for kittens
Kittens should receive their first of their vaccinations against common feline infections, including cat flu, from 8-9 weeks old, preferably before joining a new household. If the new addition is to be a companion to other cats, testing cats for serious diseases such as Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) and Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus (FIPV) and might be a really good idea.
First Vaccinations for Puppies
With pups, vaccinations against distemper, parvovirus, kennel cough, leptospirosis and parainfluenza can begin at 4-6 weeks, with boosters 6-12 months later. Pups don’t have full disease protection until two weeks after completing the course and shouldn’t be exposed to infection risks before then.
Online pet sales in the EU remain largely unregulated. Only Malta obliges dealers to register as online pet shops. UK and Ireland websites are asked to commit the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) code, but this is voluntary and, to date, only 6 websites are signed up.
Almost one in six pups experience illness
The Kennel Club reports that for pups purchased in twenty minutes or less, almost one in six experience illness, require ongoing veterinary treatment, or die within their first six months. A rate three times higher than pups chosen over more than an hour of thought and discussion.
The BVA have also expressed concern as to why so many online retailers are apparently ignorant or ignoring the health and welfare of pets. Tackling the issues, says their senior vice president, comes down to 3 things: working with voluntary codes, maintaining pressure to improve the effectiveness of legislation and educating buyers on the responsibilities of pet ownership.