As the owner of a litter of 5 week old puppies, I am only too aware of the responsibility of finding good homes for them. Fortunately, all of our puppies have fantastic homes to go to and we have the beginnings of a waiting list for our next litter but there are some real concerns about the advertising of pets for sale with websites coming under particular scrutiny.

A puppy offered in a ‘swap for a mobile phone’ and a ‘fighting dog with big teeth’ are just two examples of the worst online pet advertisements.


A set of minimum standards has been established for websites offering pets for sale. They have been developed to improve the welfare of the pets and to protect members of the public from the risk of ending up with sick, dangerous or even illegal animals.

Some of the worst online ‘pet’ adverts include

• Puppy offered for swap with a mobile phone

• Arctic fox for sale

• Very rare Zonkey (Zebra x Donkey) for sale

• Six week old Staffie puppy – a puppy shouldn’t be separated from its mother until it is eight weeks old

• Male skunk for sale

• 4 Marmoset monkeys

• Pitbull puppy for sale – Pitbulls are illegal to sell in the UK

• A cat for sale in need of severe veterinary treatment due to a badly damaged eye

• An advert offering a ladies watch in exchange for a tortoise

• Golden Retriever wanted for swap with a Chihuahua



From underage animals, banned breeds, illegally imported or endangered species to animals offered in exchange for inanimate objects – online pet advertising in its current form appears to allow almost anything.

An animal is not a commodity like a washing machine or a car, and should not be advertised or bought in the same way.

It is shocking to know that there are between 100,000 and 120,000 pet advertisements appearing on UK websites each day. There are some truly terrible examples where animal welfare was clearly the last thought in the mind of the advertiser. At Donaldson’s, we regularly hear from people who have bought an animal online only for it to fall sick soon after.

It is vitally important that advertising websites do all they can to ensure the welfare of animals sold on their sites and to prevent the sale of banned breeds. It is hoped that all advertising websites will sign up to the new minimum standards. A team of volunteer moderators will also be created to ensure that if anyone is turning to the internet to buy an animal they can do so with more confidence that they are buying a healthily bred pet.