The sale of dogs through online marketplace DoneDeal has been temporarily suspended as the site looks to help “improve animal welfare” amid a rise in dog thefts across the country.
According to a spokesperson, DoneDeal will introduce measures to further improve animal welfare and advertising transparency.
While other animals can still be bought and sold on the site, the advertising of dogs has been suspended.
DoneDeal said it is working with animal welfare bodies amid growing concerns about the sale of dogs in recent months but, a spokesperson said, they are concerned that removing dogs from their platform "may push activity offline and lead to reduced transparency when it comes to advertising dogs".
The website said it has introduced a number of measures in recent months in order to improve transparency around the advertisement of dogs.
These include the introduction of a two-factor phone verification for advertisers in the dogs’ section, capturing the microchip number of dogs at the point of advertisement, and the publishing of microchip numbers.
“At DoneDeal we will continue to work hard with animal welfare bodies to find the best possible solutions to maximise transparency and protect animal welfare when it comes to the advertisement of animals,” a spokesperson for DoneDeal said.
The decision comes as an increase in dog thefts has put pet owners on high alert.
The rise in dog thefts is believed to be linked to a rise in demand over the Covid-19 lockdown period.
Earlier this week, gardaí in Limerick uncovered ten dogs from a property in Rathkeale.
They found no dog licences or proper identification papers for the animals, and are now trying to reunite the dogs with their owners.
Gardaí say they have not recorded a spike in dog thefts in the first half of 2020, but a spokesperson said they are aware of "significant social media activity in respect of the theft and loss of dogs in recent times".
Gardaí advise dog owners to take steps to keep their animals safe, including micro-chipping and, potentially, installing CCTV.