OLX has joined forces with Ban Animal Trading (BAT), Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC), together with other major online classified platforms, to launch Operation ‘Bite Back’, aimed at helping to stamp out puppy mills and the indiscriminate sale of dogs being sold online for illegal dog fighting.
“This is a first for the online industry in that competitive companies have come together in a collaborative effort, prepared to fight for what’s right,” says Sharon Knowles, Head of Operations at OLX.
She continues: “The dog fighting syndicates are using increasingly sophisticated tactics to source animals. To help stop them, OLX is taking the lead by banning certain types of ads and will no longer accept ads for pit bulls, staffies and other breeds that dog fighters target. OLX will also no longer allow ‘free to good home’ ads, the sale of puppies younger than 8 weeks and the sale of pets by pet stores.”
OLX is South Africa’s fastest growing free online classifieds and has more than one million active ads on the platform at any given time. According to Knowles, 90% of pet ads sent to the site are identified as scams and are rejected and deleted before being posted. “However, we expect that figure to now drop with these new restrictions we have put in place,” she adds.
Dog fighting and Puppy Mills (or Puppy Farms as they are sometimes referred to) are big business in South Africa. A Puppy Mill is a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis on profits above animal welfare and is often kept in sub standard, sometimes cruel conditions.
“In May we deleted 636 adverts from one person who we found out was a puppy mill owner and reported the person immediately,” explains Knowles. “We have been working with CLAW, BAT and BWC who have helped us to get better understanding in identifying what to look for in the way ads are posted.”
Syndicates use online classified platforms to both find dogs for fighting (especially staffies and pit bulls) and to sell fighting dogs, that are no longer any use to them.
Knowles says that dog fighting, an illegal blood sport, willingly places animals in harm’s way for sport. “It is a practice that has grown into a multimillion rand organised crime network in South Africa, involving the wounding and killing of dogs,” she adds. “Not only is it inhumane, dog fighting is a gateway to money laundering, drug trafficking and the perpetration of hard crime.”
She says that OLX is pleased to be part of the worthwhile Bite Back project that will allow OLX to prevent further abuse of animals and enable OLX to be part of a bigger community to help stamp out inhumane activities.
OLX is taking a stand against this practice in the way we can, by joining hands with other industry leaders to prevent the sale of animals into cruelty. So far, this initiative has the support of BAT, BWC, CLAW, and Boxer Rescue. Together, these organisations hope to stop dog fighting and animal exploitation.
Through a combined effort of these organisations showing us reported cases, what to look for in adverts that are placed and making us aware of known perpetrators we can then monitor more closely and remove ads and report to the relevant organisation.
Dr. Smaragda Louw, executive co-ordinator for BWC/BAT in Gauteng says: “The time has come for the animals. BAT/BWC is excited to partner with OLXwhose stand against the indiscriminate breeding and selling of animals, dog fighting and the illegal trade in exotic and indigenous animals, means that they have chosen compassion over financial gain.”
OLX also advises people who cannot afford to keep their animals not to advertise them for free to get rid of them but to instead contact one of the animal rescue organisations who will help rehome the animals.
Dr Louw says: “People’s circumstances do change but you do not have to suffer in silence. OLX supports credible rescue organisations and shelters across the country who will take your animals off your hands, no questions asked. Please contact email@example.com and OLX will send you a list of organisations and rescue groups in your province.”
Knowles says that the public can help the initiative and the fight against animal cruelty by reporting suspicious adverts to firstname.lastname@example.org and not offering animals “free to good homes”. These animals are picked up and resold along the side of the road or to pet shops etc.
The public can report fraud/scams/possible wrong doing by emailing email@example.com
twitter : @ask_sharon
Knowles offers a final eight quick tips to those looking to purchasing a pet online:
- Meet the seller before agreeing to buy any pet. Never buy a pet from someone who is not able to let you see the animal and where it is homed;
- Be wary of sellers who request a shipping or veterinary charge for “free” pets; this is a definite scam;
- Purebred animals are seldom sold through an online site. They are usually offered through the registered breeders society;
- Attractive pricing on exotic named domestic animals are usually a scam even if the advert cites blood lines from the 20th century;
- Registration with certain organisations is not an indicator of a genuine breeder. Some of these organisations accept registrations without necessary checks to ensure that the breeder adheres to their policies.
- Be careful on what social media sites you use to market your pets, especially breeds like pitbulls, staffies, boxers etc.; as these are often where the dog fight syndicates search for dogs.
- If you do find your pet online, never transfer money to the seller before seeing the pet and always make sure that you meet in a safe, public place.