Trust & Safety

Trade Me's blog on Trust and Safety issues.

Code of Animal Welfare for Cats and Dogs

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We've announced a measure to promote improved animal welfare when cats and dogs are listed on Trade Me.

Because everyone loves cats right?

This measures recognises that unfortunately in amongst all the great breeders and sellers out there, there are also some who are less than responsible.

Although it is not Trade Me's role to administer the Animal Welfare Act, we recognise that we have a role to play in promoting animal welfare and that we have needed to up our game in this area for some time... so here goes!

There are a few moving parts to this, but it will include a new code of animal welfare, a listing cap, category changes some changes to the listing process and the introduction of feedback on cat and dog listings.

A thank you to start

We have consulted widely on our policy changes over the past year, and have already made some incremental changes along the way.

(This included things like better monitoring of animal listings and the development of the 7-point buyer checklist.)

We’d like to say thanks for the constructive contributions along the way from several organisations: The New Zealand Veterinary Association, the Ministry for Primary Industries, the RNZSPCA, Cat Fancy and SAFE.

What we do

We do heaps of work behind the scenes when it comes to animal welfare.

We are animal lovers and if we find a breeder or animal carer has failed in their duty to care for their animals, we will take action.

We’ve previously discussed how this works in practice and we’re not shy about taking action against Trade Me members who do not look after their animals properly.

We know that in real or suspected animal welfare cases, emotions tend to run high.

While our primary concern is to ensure that animals are not maltreated, we need to be fair and act on reliable evidence rather than unsubstantiated allegations or sweeping assumptions.

We see our fair share of inaccurate reports of animal abuse to Trade Me.

For example, prime condition working dogs are often confused with undernourished dogs.

That said, if you strongly suspect any maltreatment of animals, please let us know by using the Community Watch button on the bottom of every listing. 

The new policy

 1.      The Code of Animal Welfare

We’ve been working on this for a while, but we think it’s important to take time to work through the issues, consult the right people and do it thoroughly.

We understand regulations being developed by the Government that directly address issues like irresponsible breeding are several years away, but that is no excuse for not acting now.

We also know many responsible breeders treat their animals with respect and provide the appropriate level of care.

The Code of Animal Welfare we are introducing will allow those breeders to show this!

The code is voluntary for any breeder who lists cats or dogs on Trade Me.

It’s fairly simple in practice, but it is significant. It is voluntary because such a code can not realistically cover all circumstances under which a sale or free rehoming of an animal may occur.

In a nutshell, the seller ticks a box in the listing process which confirms that the animal has been cared for in accordance with the Animal Welfare Code, has had a vet check, is wormed and de-flead as appropriate and is in good overall health.

You can read the Code of Animal Welfare and the reasoning behind each part of it here.

Here’s how it will work:

  • Members who tick the box in the listing process are stating that they have taken clear steps to promote animal welfare. If that’s not the case, a misrepresentation has been made and they could be in breach of the Fair Trading Act and Trade Me's terms and conditions.
  • Members who say they have met the code but do not, may have their animal listing privileges removed, or could have their Trade Me memberships suspended.
  • If a Code-compliant listing is made, it will display appropriate wording in the listing body to reflect this. If the tick box is not selected, the listing will have wording which notes the Code has not been met.

Here's a more full discussion of how the Code and new policy changes work.

We believe this approach empowers buyers and means Trade Me members looking to purchase an animal are likely to look for listings where the animal has been raised in accordance with the Code.

This should, in turn, raise the standard of animal welfare on Trade Me.

Of course many animal sellers listing on Trade Me will currently comply with most or all of the Code, so they will have limited issues with this new policy. 

Trade Me's Code of Animal Welfare is being publicly released today so that sellers can familiarise themsleves with the requirements and make a decision about whether they want their listings to comply.

To give sellers the time to achieve compliance, the checkbox in the listing process will not be turned on for a few weeks.

 2.      Cap on number of litters and animals able to be listed

We are introducing a cap on the number of listings a membership can make in a 12 month period.

Each membership will be able to list a maximum of five litters per year, or a total of 40 cats or dogs.

This means a membership could list up to 40 dogs and 40 cats or no more than 5 litters of dogs or 6 litters of cats per 12 month period.

Combined with our new listing requirements (see below) including microchip number and vet documentation, we believe this will help ensure ‘bad egg’ breeders do not ply their trade on Trade Me.

Note that the cap applies where an animal is being sold. Animals that are being rehomed for free will not be subject to the cap (see below).

 3.      New listing process

If you have ever listed a dog or cat on Trade Me you may have noticed that the listing process is pretty similar to what would happen if you were listing a heater, fridge or a plastic frog (rather than being specific to cats and dogs).

Obviously, there are some improvements we can make in the listing process to promote animal welfare and minimise the harm caused by irresponsible breeders.

Here are some of the things we are working on:

When listing a companion animal members will soon be offered three options:

  • Sell a single dog or cat; or
  • Sell a litter of puppies or kittens; or
  • Rehome puppies or kittens for free.

The listing process will require users to add additional information as follows:

  • birthdates for all animals listed;
  • microchip numbers (for dogs or the mother's number for puppies); and
  • the veterinary report (if the seller is Code compliant).

This will come into affect in a few weeks as soon as behind the scenes development is complete. 

'Working dogs' are not required to be subject to the Code.

Promotional support for listing by approved animal welfare groups.

We recognise the fantastic effort that several animal welfare groups put into re-homing animals.

These organisations can apply for free promotion of their listings for re-homed animals. All rehoming they do is fee-free and not subject to the cap.

Click here for details on how to apply to be such an organisation

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If you're wondering who that lass in the photo is, she's Vanilla but better known as Nilla!