Metrolife: Outrage grows against online sale of puppies

Metrolife: Outrage grows against online sale of puppies

Breeders are greedy and flout all animal welfare rules, activist say

Anushree Thammanna provided foster care for Bagheera before he died.

The Internet has become a place for illegal breeders to sell puppies.

Breeders use e-commerce websites such as Quickr and Indiamart, besides social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. 

Animal lovers and welfare are demanding a ban on online pet trade.

Civic activist Priya Chetty-Rajagopal of Bengaluru has launched a petition on following the death of Bagheera, a Labrador puppy sold on Quikr.

The petition urges Quikr CEO Pranay Chulet, Indiamart co-founders Dheeraj Agrawal and Brijesh Agrawal, Facebook policy head Ankhi Das, and the ministry of environment and forests and to ban online sale of pets.

The petition highlights how online portals treat dogs as a commodity. The campaign, using hashtags #NoMoreBagheeras and #Banononlinepetsales, has gone viral.

Under the Prevention of Cruelty Act (Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules) of 2017, it is illegal to sell puppies less than eight weeks old and without a breeders’ certificate. 

Priya explains, “Unfortunately, there’s a demand for puppies across the country and the online portals are supplying them in large numbers. Illegal breeders are giving away puppies like commodities.” 

Most breeders sell puppies early so that they can save on the worming and vaccination process. The change in environment causes the puppy to fall sick and brings down its chance of survival. 

Mandy Vasudevan, welfare worker, says, “Indiamart has an option for ‘newborns’ on the website. It’s pathetic. A puppy should be with the mother for at least 60 days after birth or they will have immunity and behavioural problems. This is why breeding should stop.” 

Impulse buying

She says many people buy puppies for instant gratification, without realising how much work being a pet parent calls for.

“I know someone who ended up paying Rs 15,000 to buy a Chihuahua, and realised later that the seller is not in India. He is not responding to her messages,” concerns Mandy.

Breeding conditions are awful. Since the demand is increasing, breeders go to the extent of getting mother and son, father and daughter, and brother and sister to mate, she says. 

Mandy adds, “After about five to six years of using these animals to breed, the breeders abandon them somewhere. We mostly find female labs this way. The worst part is that since dogs don’t know what to do when they are abandoned, they either end up in foster care or are hit by vehicles.” 

The commercialisation routinely takes place on social media. “Facebook Marketplace clearly has a rule that you cannot sell guns, drugs or animals. However, a Facebook group is an informal one, so anyone can post anything they want,” she explains.

Facebook has more than 700 listings selling puppies, by her reckoning.

“We are reporting every account and taking action. It’s not the quickest way to end this but we are working towards it,” she told Metrolife.

Who is Bagheera?

Bagheera was a Labrador puppy sold online for Rs 13,000 when he was just 21 days old. As a result of unhygienic breeding conditions and being taken away from his mother too soon, he soon became afflicted with canine distemper. He was given up to a foster home and then ended up at CARE. Bagheera died in 15 days.

So far...

In response to the petition e-commerce site OLX has taken down the option to sell puppies. It also put out a policy saying it is not responsible for what is being sold online. The petitioners haven’t been able to get in touch with Indiamart yet.

Fact file

* A certificate is essential for any sale of puppies. A buyer must ask for it and a seller display it.

* Puppies cannot be sold before they are eight weeks old.

* Public display of dogs for sale is allowed only if the Animal Welfare Board of India gives permission.

No law against pets in apartments

* If a landlord says pets aren’t allowed, you can produce an Animal Welfare Board of India circular saying there is no law against having pets in residential

* If pet parents are moving to another state or country, animal welfare activists can put them in touch with transporters.