IPAAG launches #PuppyDotCon campaign to highlight the dangers of buying a pet online

1 October 2018

During World Animal Week 1st – 7th October 2018, the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group (IPAAG) is launching a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of responding to online pet advertisements.

A thought provoking video called #PuppyDotCon is being released as part of the campaign, which demonstrates how easy it is to be fooled by unscrupulous breeders highlights the dangers of buying a pet online.

Although we would encourage adopting a pet from a reputable animal welfare organisation, IPAAG recognises that more people than ever are looking online when they decide to get a pet. However, IPAAG is encouraging members of the public who decide to buy a puppy or other pet online to do their research first, look out for red flags in online advertisements, and be armed with the information required before making any decision. If in doubt, walk away!


Thousands of puppies, dogs and other animals are advertised on DoneDeal.ie and other online classified websites in Ireland every month, highlighting the sheer scale of the demand for people opting to purchase a pet online. Being able to sell puppies online makes it very easy for unscrupulous breeders to conceal the substandard and often dangerous conditions their puppies come from. Animal welfare organisations regularly hear from individuals and families who purchased a pet from an online advertisement only for it to fall sick or even die soon afterward.

Gordon, a father from Dublin, and his family went through such a tragedy after purchasing a puppy from an online advert.
He bought the puppy for his daughter, who is in first year at school.

“My daughter suffers from anxiety,” Gordon said. “We thought having a puppy would help her make friends—sharing photos and videos, bringing it around school to collect her.”

Gordon’s daughter was so excited to get a new puppy when Gordon brought her home. But it only took a day for Gordon to realise something was terribly wrong.

Within two days, the puppy was severely ill. She was lethargic, vomiting and had diarrhoea.

Gordon rushed the puppy to the vet, where it was confirmed she had parvovirus, a viral infection that is
often fatal to puppies. The puppy was transferred to the Pet Emergency Hospital at UCD where she was on a
drip. But, sadly like many puppies who contract the virus, she didn’t survive.

In Gordon’s tragic case, he was left with a bill over €1,300, a devastated family, and no puppy.
Puppies need to be vaccinated against parvovirus by a vet from 6 weeks of age, before they are old enough
to be sold. When Gordon bought his puppy, the breeder gave him a vaccination card for her.

It had a sticker and initials, but it had not been stamped by a vet, indicating the card was fake.

“We also have another older dog, thank god he didn’t get parvo,” said Gordon. “We had to throw out all the
new bedding, dog bowls, and toys.”

Holly Carpenter at the launch of IPAAG’s #PuppyDotCon campaign


IPAAG Chairperson and ISPCA CEO Dr Andrew Kelly said: “We always encourage prospective pet owners to
consider adopting a pet from a reputable rescue organisation first. However, we do recognise that people
will turn to their computers when looking to buy or sell almost anything at the click of a mouse and sadly
pets are not exempt from this. This is why we believe the best solution is to engage with online classified
sites. DoneDeal are extremely cooperative and do everything they can to adhere to IPAAG’s Minimum
Standards and remove advertisements in breach of these standards and that contain animal welfare
concerns. We hope anyone looking to get a new pet, particularly a puppy, will visit www.ipaag.ie and read
the information there, download our Puppy Checklist and avoid falling victim to unscrupulous breeders.”

IPAAG’s #PuppyDotCon campaign will include a checklist for prospective buyers to help them identify
welfare issues in online advertisements, as well as other information to enable potential pet owners to buy a
healthy pet with confidence.

IPAAG launch PuppyDotCon

Rosanna Davison and Pete Wedderburn at the launch of #PuppyDotCon

Visit our advice pages for more information, and report any animal welfare concerns to the ISPCA National
Animal Cruelty Helpline by visiting https://www.ispca.ie/cruelty_complaint or calling 1890 515 515.

Follow the conversations on Twitter using the hashtag #PuppyDotCon and follow our IPAAG updates on

IPAAG reminds the public to beware of the pitfalls in responding to online ads for puppies

4th December 2017
Buying a puppy for Christmas

In the run up to Christmas last year, 37% of people clicked on IPAAG advertisements looking for advice were searching the internet for “puppies for sale”

As Christmas approaches and the demand for puppies’ increases, the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group (IPAAG) is reminding potential buyers to beware of the pitfalls of responding to online advertisements for puppies and other pets to ensure that they ask the right questions to avoid falling victim to rogue breeders, who put profits before animal welfare.

Leading animal welfare organisations (ISPCA, Dogs Trust, IHWT, Donkey Sanctuary, Irish Blue Cross and MADRA) along with representatives from the veterinary profession and websites advertising pets for sale joined forces in 2015 to develop a set of minimum standards for websites to help protect the welfare of animals that are advertised online and ensure that any illegal activity is identified and investigated.

IPAAG has been targeting unscrupulous breeders by reporting inappropriate online adverts in breach of the IPAAG minimum standards where they were acting illegally and compromising the welfare of innocent animals to make a quick profit.

Since its launch, IPAAG has used Google Ads to educate people searching for pets being advertised online.  As a result over one million impressions and 22,485 clicks to the IPAAG website was reached specifically targeting people who were looking to source a pet online, but may not be aware of the risks or how to protect themselves from unscrupulous breeders. This highlights that people do want advice prior to getting a puppy, however they may not have thought to seek it or known where to go prior to seeing the IPAAG advertisements.

IPAAG Chairman Dr Andrew Kelly said:  “We would always encourage prospective pet owners to consider adopting an animal from a reputable rescue organisation. However, we recognise that people will often turn to their computers when looking to buy or sell almost anything and whether we like it or not that includes pets. Animal welfare organisations regularly hear from people who have sourced a pet online only for it to fall sick and in some cases die soon after, which is awful for the animal concerned and heart breaking for the owners. Anyone looking to get a new pet should follow the IPAAG check list to avoid the pit falls of becoming a victim of unscrupulous breeders. Some websites, such as Done Deal are very cooperative, are complying with the minimum standards and do report adverts of concern to the appropriate authorities, but others are less cooperative. I would also like to remind people to never give a puppy or any other animal as a surprise gift at Christmas or any other time of the year.”

IPAAG is urging anyone thinking of getting a new pet to carefully research where your new pet has originated from and to be aware of unscrupulous breeders who are putting profits before animal welfare. Getting a pet on impulse poses an enormous risk and to avoid unintentionally obtaining a pet from a rogue breeder, it is also important that you consider the long term commitment and financial resources required before taking on a new addition to the family.

Following on from the success of PAAG in the UK and IPAAG in Ireland, Blue Cross have developed EU PAAG through the EU Dog and Cat Alliance https://www.dogandcatwelfare.eu/about/ ; that provides a template for other EU Member States to develop a PAAG of their own. As a result, BelgPAAG has been set up in Belgium and five other member states are in the process of setting up PAAGs.

IPAAG check list:

*   Have you considered adopting a pet from your local rescue centre first?
*   If you have decided to go online to source a pet, ensure the website has signed up to the IPAAG minimum advertising standards.  Visit https://www.ipaag.ie for more information, tips and advice.
*   Different breeds have different requirements and temperaments. Research is important to ensure your new pet is suitable for your family and lifestyle.
*   If you have already completed your research, ask your vet to recommend a reputable breeder or contact the IKC (Irish Kennel Club) for advice if you are looking to get a pet.
*   Always ask to see mum and puppy interacting with each other and be concerned if you can’t.
*   Are the facilities clean and does the litter of puppies appear to be alert and healthy?  You should be able to handle the puppies freely under supervision.
*   Ensure any new pet is old enough to leave its mother – puppies need to be at least 8 weeks old.
*   Ask the breeder if they are registered under the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010. If the answer is yes, ask to see the certificate issued by the Local Authority.
*   Microchipping is a legal requirement for all dogs and puppies once they are 12 weeks old. A puppy must be microchipped and the ownership transferred if applicable, even if this is before 12 weeks. It is very important that the change of ownership form is complete and the buyer must produce ID and proof of address to the seller.

*   Always ask for a copy of the veterinary records such as the vaccination certificate, microchipping details and treatment record for parasites. If you are unsure about it, speak to your local vet.

*   For pedigree puppies, check that the Irish Kennel Club registration papers and the parents’ hereditary disease screening certificates, where appropriate, are in order.
*   If you suspect a puppy has come from a commercial breeding establishment, please don’t take it out of pity.  You may think you are saving a puppy but you will be fuelling the puppy farm trade demand.
*   If in doubt, walk away and visit a reputable rescue centre
*   Wild or exotic species have specific needs and are for specialists. Is it dangerous, wild, or even endangered? Check it will make a suitable pet.

Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD launches Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group (IPAAG) Minimum Standards for online classified advertising websites

15th April 2015

On 15th April 2015 leading Irish animal welfare organisations, representatives from the veterinary profession and websites advertising pets for sale launched the ground breaking and progressive IPAAG Minimum Standards at the Mansion House, Dublin. This major initiative will improve the welfare of the thousands of pets advertised online on a weekly basis.


Minister Simon Coveney said: “I am delighted to endorse the IPAAG Minimum Standards for the online sale of animals. It is encouraging to see animal welfare groups working together with the veterinary profession to engage with online retailers to develop guidelines for the advertising of animals online that will ensure that the welfare of animals being sold is protected and that illegal activity is identified and acted on. I would strongly encourage websites that advertise animals for sale to comply with these minimum standards”.


The online sale of pets has been identified as a significant problem with rogue breeders breaking the law and in many cases compromising the welfare of the animals being offered for sale. In the absence of a ban, which would result in adverts appearing on unregulated websites likely based outside Ireland, it would make dealing with animal welfare issues extremely difficult and would do nothing to prevent the over production of puppies.


IPAAG introduced a set of minimum standards for websites to ensure that the welfare of animals sold online is protected and that any illegal activity is identified and investigated. In addition to providing standards for the online advertising of animals for sale, IPAAG will also provide an opportunity for the buyer to be educated on what criteria to use to identify a responsible breeder. Online websites that comply with the standards will provide links to www.ipaag.ie,which will include information for the safe purchase of healthy dogs, cats, equines and exotic animals.


IPAAG chairman and ISPCA CEO Dr Andrew Kelly said: “As someone committed to animal welfare I would always encourage prospective pet owners to rehome a rescue animal from a shelter or pound but we recognise that people will often turn to their computers when looking to buy or sell almost anything including pets. Website advertisers complying with IPAAG minimum standards is the first step to solving the issues that relate to the online sale of pets, enabling prospective pet owners  to buy a healthily bred pet with confidence. The ISPCA and our colleagues in animal welfare regularly hear from people who have purchased a pet online only for it to fall sick or die soon after, which is awful for the animal concerned and heart breaking for the owners”.