A campaigner has added her voice to calls from animal rescue charities and vets for tighter restrictions on on-line pet shopping for as the pandemic sees a rise in the demand for pets.
Dianna Voyatzis, 23, from West London, was “heartbroken” when a kitten she had bought from Gumtree at the begin of the pandemic (April 2020), named Ghost, died of a hereditary coronary heart illness seven months later.
She knowledgeable the vendor of what occurred however they didn’t reply and later their account was deleted when she knowledgeable Gumtree of the problem.
According to animal rescue charity Blue Cross, unscrupulous pet sellers are taking benefit of the rise in demand for pets.
Becky Thwaites, head of public affairs at Bluecross, informed My London: “With the pandemic, extra of us have been spending rather more time at house which has led to a large demand for pets.
“Bluecross did a survey at the starting of this yr and it discovered that over a 3rd of individuals have been going to be taking up a brand new pet in 2021 and as that demand has gone up we’ve seen that the unscrupulous sellers and breeders are taking benefit of that.
“So we’ve seen extra pet scams… it’s as a result of the breeders and sellers are conscious that they are often making giant quantities of cash at the minute as a result of demand is far increased than it is ever been earlier than.”
According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association’s (PFMA) annual pet inhabitants report, a complete of 3.2 million households in the UK have acquired a pet since the begin of the pandemic bringing the quantity of households in the UK which personal pets to 17 million.
Their information additionally reveals that 16 to 34-year-olds are the most important drivers of this pattern, making up 59 per cent of new pet house owners.
Henry James, 23, additionally bought a canine from Gumtree in 2016 in West London and was later “shocked” to discover out that the canine marketed as wholesome was identified with fleas, worms, an overbite and a respiratory problem.
“The vendor did not inform us there have been any points,” Henry informed My London.
He added: “I did contact the vendor after, he mentioned the canine did have jabs however it did not.
“You don’t count on to purchase a canine with well being points. He’s a pleasant sufficient canine however it’s fraudulent.
“It does really feel a bit horrible, however that is the downside with canine farms in the UK, it’s simply fairly horrible.”
Dr Dan O’Neil, a senior lecturer with the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and a former animal basic practitioner for over 20 years, mentioned the problem of unscrupulous pet sellers shouldn’t be distinctive to the present pandemic.
Dr O’Neil mentioned: “Essentially all that’s occurred is the pandemic has exacerbated sure points that already existed.
“So on-line selling of animals has been a difficulty more and more for the final decade.
“The UK has arrange a selected group known as the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) to cope with this. They’ve been working for years on this attempting to scale back the volumes of pets which might be offered on-line and enhance the high quality however now the pandemic has hit, the tendency to purchase animals on-line is larger.”
A petition launched by Dianna following the demise of Ghost has now obtained over 15,000 signatures and has obtained a response from the Government.
A Government spokesperson mentioned: “This Government is dedicated to excessive requirements of animal welfare, together with for cats. We have addressed the low welfare sale of kittens by way of regulating business gross sales and the Petfished marketing campaign.”
Dianna mentioned, nevertheless, that present laws which says you want a licence to promote a “small quantity of offspring of pets that you simply’ve bred” shouldn’t be adequate and is asking for all pet sellers to be required to have pets vet checked earlier than selling them.
Similar to Dianna, Becky Thwaites mentioned Bluecross would love to see a system of “registration and licensing” for anyone selling a pet which might additionally embrace a requirement to do sure well being checks.
Becky mentioned though organisations like Bluecross are happy with the Government’s efforts, together with its Petfished marketing campaign, extra wants to be performed on a neighborhood degree.
MyLondon’s good new e-newsletter The 12 is full of information, views, options and opinion from throughout the metropolis.
Every day we’ll ship you a free e mail at round 12pm with 12 tales to maintain you entertained, knowledgeable and uplifted. It’s the excellent lunchtime learn.
The MyLondon staff tells London tales for Londoners. Our 45 journalists cowl all the information you want – from City Hall to your native streets.
Never miss a second by signing up to The 12 e-newsletter right here.
She added: “You can have the most wonderful laws in the world… if it’s not being enforced there’s no level.
“We’ve been working actually onerous lobbying the Government to say you want to have the enforcement that sits behind the laws. You want to be offering native authorities with the coaching, the assets and the steering to correctly cope with some of these issues.
“Unfortunately the pandemic has led to much more funds constraints for native authorities.”
A spokesperson for Gumtree mentioned: “We take the welfare of animals extraordinarily significantly and have been saddened to hear about Dianna’s expertise.
“We work onerous to guarantee our website is a protected place to discover pets in want of rehoming, and we’re dedicated to educating our customers on how to purchase pets safely and responsibly. We encourage all our customers to at all times examine medical information and to by no means buy a pet earlier than going to see it in particular person.“