Gumtree has announced new measures in order to clamp down on the illegal pet trade and improve animal welfare.
The new measures will see the introduction of a compulsory paywall in its pets category, in a bid to deter unscrupulous operators from misusing the platform and discourage the ‘casual’ trading of animals online.
From today (7 August), anyone wishing to post an ad in Gumtree’s pets category will be required to pay a nominal fee. The move by the classifieds platform represents a big shift from Gumtree’s ‘free for all users’ model in this category.
In recent years, the classifieds platform has established a relationship with the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) that promotes responsible pet advertising and the safe trading of animals via online adverts. Gumtree says it “works hard to comply with, and in some cases exceed” PAAG’s 18 minimum standards for the rehoming of pets.
Despite the efforts of PAAG and industry operators like Gumtree to meet standards, the illegal pets trade has continued to circumvent systems across the industry, it is thought that the new measures will make it easier for law enforcement agencies to identify illegal operators.
Gumtree general manager, Matt Barham said: “For the first time in our 18-year history, we have taken the deliberate and purposeful step to shift away from our traditional ‘free for all users’ model in the Pets category in a bid to rid Gumtree of illegal pets trading.
“This is a measure we have imposed on ourselves not because we are required to do so by government or our colleagues in the animal welfare industry, but because we believe it is the right thing to do.
He added: “Gumtree is and always has been firmly committed to making sure our platform is as safe as possible for rehoming pets and this measure marks the latest milestone in our journey to improve safety for Gumtree users.”
Chair of PAAG, Paula Boyden said: “It has long been our concern that animals are being exploited by traders, with unscrupulous operators setting up fake profiles on classifieds platforms to hide this from unsuspecting buyers.
“Animals are often bred illegally by criminal gangs and frequently have health problems as a result of profit being put before their welfare. Furthermore, many pets are being illegally imported into the country but their backgrounds are being concealed from the buyer which is deeply worrying.”