Switzerland takes a giant step against anonymous pet trafficking on the Internet: from 1 March 2018, online traders will have to provide their full name and address, as well as the country of origin and breeding of the dogs offered for sale. International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS sees the Swiss decision as the leading change required in the industry. For over a year now, FOUR PAWS has been calling on national and international providers of classified ad sites – most notably the US Internet giant eBay – to introduce compulsory seller verification in order to stop the anonymous online pet trade. Nearly 100,000 supporters worldwide have signed this request to eBay since mid-December 2017.
Thanks to imaginative usernames, pet traders can currently sell their dogs anonymously on online classified sites in Switzerland. Due to a revision of the animal welfare ordinance, however, this will soon be over.
"It is a great achievement for animal welfare that online dog traders in Switzerland will have to state their real name and address. This makes Switzerland one of the pioneer countries in regulating the online trade in pets. We hope that many other countries will follow the Swiss example. We will see how this law is implemented by the classified ad sites and if any fraudulent misuse will be efficiently hindered. This is the only way animals and buyers can be protected from unscrupulous puppy traders," says Julie Sanders, International Director of Companion Animals Programme at FOUR PAWS.
The responsibility of the online platforms
In the future, the providers of classified ad sites in Switzerland will have to ensure that the data of pet traders are fully recorded with the exact implementation is currently being developed. International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, who submitted recommendations on how best to regulate the online trade through the revision of the Swiss ordinance, welcomes the online platforms being given more responsibility.
"Requesting complete seller data is a good start. Although we are concerned that the validity of the information may not be adequately controlled. Hence, we are asking all classified sites – also outside of Switzerland – to introduce a mandatory seller verification by means of an identity check on all sellers," says Sanders.
Campaign against eBay
In mid-December 2017, FOUR PAWS launched a campaign focusing on the US company eBay. Due to the potential anonymity on its numerous classified ad sites, such as "Gumtree" in the UK or “eBay Kleinanzeigen” in Germany, the Internet group offers ideal conditions for dubious pet traders. Recent research conducted by FOUR PAWS and statements of a former illegal puppy smuggler show that unscrupulous puppy traders use these platforms to sell sick and underage dogs from Eastern European puppy farms. Since launching the campaign, nearly 100,000 supporters have signed the FOUR PAWS petition calling on eBay to introduce seller verification on all its classified sites.
More information about FOUR PAWS’ new campaign can be found here:
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org