The Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group (IPAAG) has warned people thinking about buying a puppy this Christmas to avoid using rogue breeders who put profits before animal welfare.
In 2015, leading animal welfare organisations, along with representatives from the veterinary profession and websites advertising pets for sale, joined forces to develop a set of minimum standards for websites to help protect the welfare of animals that are advertised online.
Since its launch, IPAAG has used Google Ads to educate people searching for pets being advertised online.
As a result, over one million impressions and 22,485 clicks to the IPAAG website was reached specifically targeting people who were looking to source a pet online, but may not be aware of the risks or how to protect themselves from unscrupulous breeders.
IPAAG chairman Dr Andrew Kelly said: “We would always encourage prospective pet owners to consider adopting an animal from a reputable rescue organisation.
“However, we recognise that people will often turn to their computers when looking to buy or sell almost anything - and whether we like it or not that includes pets.
“Animal welfare organisations regularly hear from people who have sourced a pet online only for it to fall sick and in some cases die soon after, which is awful for the animal concerned and heartbreaking for the owners.
"Anyone looking to get a new pet should follow the IPAAG checklist to avoid the pitfalls of becoming a victim of unscrupulous breeders.
"Some websites, such as Done Deal, are very cooperative, are complying with the minimum standards and do report adverts of concern to the appropriate authorities, but others are less cooperative.
"I would also like to remind people to never give a puppy or any other animal as a surprise gift at Christmas or any other time of the year.”
IPAAG also urged potential new pet owners to consider the long-term commitment and financial resources required before taking on a new addition to the family.
Recently it was found that dogs as young as three are being abandoned
to make way for puppies at Christmas.