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RSPCA warns over “unscrupulous” puppy sales over the internet 

New figures jointly released by the RSPCA and Gumtree reveal the sheer scale of the online puppy market -and increasing problems of unscrupulous breeders and dealers.

There were more than 66,000 searches for the fashionable breed ‘French bulldog’ in just one month (February 2017) on the popular classified online marketplace. This was closely followed by Labradors and pugs.

The figures also reveal that the use of online websites to sell and rehome dogs has exploded within the last decade as Gumtree recorded a 785 percent increase in the number of dogs being listed on its site in the past ten years (2007-2016).

“Teaming up with Gumtree, we’re warning buyers to take care when looking for dogs online as the internet can provide the perfect marketplace for the unscrupulous puppy trade which puts profit over welfare,” said RSPCA spokesman, Justine Williams.

“These figures are hugely concerning as they show the sheer number of people using the internet to buy and sell dogs. These are living, sentient creatures, which are being traded as easily as a second-hand car or a piece of furniture.”

“While classified websites, if used responsibly, can be an effective method of advertising for responsible breeders and rescue organisations, sadly, far too many people abuse the internet and this has led to many animal welfare issues arising.”

Morten Heuing, general manager at Gumtree UK, said: “Whilst most people have safe and successful experiences rehoming dogs on Gumtree, there are a minority of unscrupulous breeders and dealers who put profit ahead of the health and welfare of the animals.”

“We take the welfare of animals very seriously and work hard to ensure our site is a safe place to find pets in need of rehoming. Our dedicated safety team takes steps to make it as hard as possible for illegal traders to operate on the site. For example, we do not allow ‘wanted’ ads in our ‘Pets’ category and we delete any ads we believe are encouraging or indicate signs of animal cruelty. “