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Regulatory Compliance in Online Dog Advertisements in Australia

  • Goncalves Costa, Ana1
  • Nielsen, Torben1
  • Dal Grande, Eleonora1
  • Tuke, Jonathan
  • Hazel, Susan1
  • 1 (S.H.)
Published Article
Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI
Publication Date
Mar 03, 2020
DOI: 10.3390/ani10030425
PMID: 32138238
PMCID: PMC7142573
PubMed Central


Simple Summary As Australians increasingly purchase their companion dogs online, Australian state and territory authorities are faced with the challenge of ensuring online sales adhere to local regulations. Using webscraping techniques, we analysed 1735 unique advertisements for dogs and puppies from Gumtree—one of Australia’s most popular trading platforms—and benchmarked levels of microchipping, desexing and breeder identification numbers in each state and territory. We found an increased likelihood of microchipping in states requiring microchipping prior to sale and inclusion of chip numbers in advertisements. Older animals who were microchipped were more likely to be desexed, and advertisements placed by breeders who were selling vaccinated puppies were more likely to include a breeder registration number in their ad than sellers who identified themselves as owners. We recommend regulatory bodies use this data to make evidence-based decisions on future regulation and use this benchmark to monitor effectiveness of any changes. Abstract In Australia, each state and territory authority implements and enforces regulations regarding dog management—including the breeding and sale of dogs online—which is increasingly becoming the most popular method of obtaining pets. The aims for this study included: 1. Benchmarking regulatory compliance in online dog advertisements in Australia, and, 2. Understanding factors associated with regulatory compliance in online advertisements. We collected advertisements for dogs and puppies from Gumtree—one of Australia’s most popular online trading platforms—on two separate days, two weeks apart (25 March and 8 April 2019). A total of 1735 unique advertisements were included in the dataset. Chi-squared tests and multivariable logistic regression models were used to identify risk factors for microchipping, desexing and breeder identification number, and compliance levels. State laws requiring animals to be microchipped prior to sale and the inclusion of chip numbers in advertisements were found to be the biggest factor in increasing likelihood of microchipped animals in Gumtree advertisements, while desexing was more common in microchipped and older animals. The online ad was more likely to include a breeder ID if the dog was young, vaccinated, and advertised by a breeder rather than an owner. The findings from this study will assist regulators to make evidence-based decisions on managing online advertisements for companion animals. In the future, the benchmarking this study has presented will allow future analysis of the effectiveness of regulation changes.

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