Get Gumtree Animal Free is a UK based campaign to close down Gumtree’s ‘Pets For Sale’ category.
The campaign, which has more than 12,000 supporters on Facebook was launched in May 2011 in response to concern that Gumtree has become a dumping ground for unwanted pets and a lucrative, unregulated marketplace that is often exploited by criminals and those with little regard for the welfare of animals. Of particular concern is the ‘free to a good home’ section, where dog-fighting gangs are rumoured to pick up dogs and other small furries to use as live bait.
Gumtree ads are not checked by staff before they are posted, but they rely on text filters to scan for words that might break their rules, such as “pit bull terrier”. Hundreds of ads which break the rules are reported weekly by Gumtree users, such as ads for pregnant or sick animals, puppies and kittens that are too young to leave mum, ads from suspected puppy farmers and pets being swapped for items such as bicycles, handbags or mobile phones. With over 15,000 ads for pets on Gumtree many escape notice until it is simply too late. Last week we examined the first 500 ads for pets on Gumtree – a shocking 32% broke at least one of Gumtree’s pets posting rules. We encourage people to sign our petition to parliament (available online soon) calling for new laws to protect animals sold online and to write to their MP. We are reporting as many ads that break Gumtree’s rules as possible, both to Gumtree and the Pets Advertising Advisory Group. We want everyone to boycott Gumtree until they remove their Pets for Sale category and make a pledge never to buy, sell or re-home animals online.
Gumtree often mention that they ‘work with animal charities’ to improve their pets section (or perhaps their public image?). For the past two years the Pets Advertising Advisory Group, which includes representatives from the Dogs Trust, RSPCA, etc. has liaised with Gumtree to improve their rules for selling animals. However, due to a lack of monitoring these rules are largely unenforced. Gumtree openly admit they do not have the resources to monitor ads – a task which would require specialist knowledge in the fields of law, zoology, veterinary medicine, breed recognition, etc. Curiously, Gumtree is owned by eBay, who have already banned animals from being sold on their site.