OATA has joined forces with the UK’s top animal welfare organisations, veterinary and industry bodies to launch a new website to help people when they decide to buy a new pet.

We are a member of the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG), a group comprising of the country’s top welfare organisations, trade associations and veterinary bodies – including Dogs Trust, PDSA, British Veterinary Association, Cats Protection, City of London Trading Standards, OATA, Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association, RSPCA and Scottish SPCA.

Together we are uniting against online adverts from unscrupulous, and often criminal, pet sellers who make a good living selling animals that are often sick, underage or have been illegally imported into the UK by launching a new website offering advice on the things to think about before purchasing a pet.

PAAG’s latest research into the British public’s pet purchasing behaviour has found that 37% of people admitted they did no research before buying, and, with 1,000 new online pet adverts appearing every day, the group has launched a new advisory website – www.HowToBuyAPet.co.uk – to arm the public with the knowledge to spot an untrustworthy ad or scam, and the confidence to ask the right questions to ensure they are dealing with a responsible seller.

Survey results also showed that nearly half of the British public admitted to being unaware that regulations for the buying and selling of animals online even existed, or that commercial pet sellers are now required by law to be inspected and licensed by their Local Authority. PAAG experts fear that the issues we are seeing now are just the tip of the iceberg, and it has become far too easy for Britain’s animal lovers to be deceived.

HowToBuyAPet.co.uk is the definitive source of advice and information for the public – directly from some of the UK’s most respected welfare animal organisations, industry bodies and experts – and focuses on the research prospective owners should do before they buy, and what they can expect from pet ownership. It will be updated regularly with scams to be aware of and will provide a place for anyone to confidentially report suspicious websites or traders. The website also tells people what they should expect when they visit their new pet for the first time.

Since it was formed in 2001, PAAG has been working tirelessly to tackle the thousands of underhand online animal sellers.

Alongside its public advice, PAAG is continuing its work with a number of classified websites including Gumtree, Pets4Homes and PreLoved to remove illegal adverts, and is pushing for all websites to commit to a set of minimum guidelines which all of their animal adverts should adhere to, ensuring all pets being advertised are done so legally and ethically.

If anyone spots a suspicious or illegal advert and wants to know what to do, please visit www.HowToBuyAPet.co.uk.