Australian pet owners and buyers fared poorly in a global survey that found we research breeders the least, spend the most on new dogs and often buy young puppies illegally.
Australia did the least research into breeders or sellers before purchasing of all nine countries surveyed, with 27 percent not researching the puppy’s supplier. Apparently, the ACCC has reported that Aussies lost $4.2 million to pet scams over the course of 2021, a 1000 percent increase over two years.
42 percent of Australians spent between $1,500 and $4,399 on a puppy in 2022, and 13 percent paid between $4,400 and $8,800.
Of those surveyed in the UK, just 18 per cent of buyers paid more than A$3,083 for their new dog.
Perhaps the most worrying finding was that more than a quarter of Aussies bought puppies younger than eight weeks, with 13 per cent of them saying their pup was six weeks or younger.
Selling or buying dogs under the age of eight weeks is illegal in most Australian states.
Research agency Savanta, which worked with Four Paws on the survey in 2022, received responses from 3,037 people across Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Belgium to compile the results.
In October, news.com.au was made aware of puppy and kitten listings on Gumtree that they were offering to buyers under the eight week old age requirement.
Gumtree removed a list of several ads sent to them by news.com.au that were uncovered after just a quick search.
In response, a spokeswoman for Gumtree said the site uses filters and safeguards to remove non-compliant ads, but also uses a “report and opt-out process” to encourage users to report worrisome ads.
Animal welfare advocacy Four Paws is urging Australians to do their research and be aware that “puppy farms” are offloading puppies that are too young.
The group claims that a surge in demand for puppies due to Covid combined with the holiday season has led to a rise in puppy farm practices, the sale of underage puppies and online scams.
Four Paws Australia national director Rebecca Linigen said the puppies advertised online were most likely from puppy farms – and urged buyers to do their research.
“They are bred in poor conditions on puppy farms, where the mothers are forced to produce litter after litter, and the puppies are taken from their mothers far too young,” she said.
“By the time they’re in your arms, they could be ill or have behavior problems due to lack of socialization.”
The survey also found that 21 percent said as a result of such purchases, the pup experienced health issues, including allergies, behavioral issues and diarrhea — likely related to the early separation of mother and pup.
“Doing the right research and asking the right questions can help Australians avoid becoming victims of the cruel puppy trade,” Ms Linigen said.
Emma Hurst, Member of the Animal Justice Party in the NSW House of Lords, said puppy breeding was legal in most states and territories but called it a “cruel industry that’s rife due to government inaction”.
“No one wants to buy a dog from a puppy farm — but right now the public is being duped by shady operators,” she said.
“This was uncovered in a recent NSW parliamentary inquiry which revealed that even people who had tried to research breeders still inadvertently bought from a puppy farm and had to spend thousands on veterinary treatment for their ailing new family member, the probably came from misery.”
According to Four Paws, red flags for buyers include sellers with multiple accounts on a single classifieds site, the same seller advertising multiple litters of puppies of different breeds, no mention of the mother or not allowing the buyer to see the mother dog and where she lives for themselves.
The organization says a responsible breeder will likely question the buyer about their lifestyle and habitat to ensure their home is a suitable fit for the pup.
Four Paws Australia recently launched its new Cute. Fast. Sick’, who highlights the dangers of buying animals online and how operators sometimes deceive people who want to buy a puppy.
The animal rights group encourages people who want to add a furry friend to their family this holiday season to consider adoption, but always remember – a pet is for life, not just for Christmas.
Originally posted as a “very worrying” puppy trend, a quarter of Aussies are dying