People can sell pets anonymously on eBay’s classified ad sites around the world, including Gumtree (which is owned by eBay), making it very easy to sell illegal, sick and mistreated animals.

Help us push them into action! Get active here.

Sign our petition now
*Fictional quote based on the reality of the puppy trade

“It didn’t matter whether the puppies were healthy or as good as dead. Thanks eBay!”

A former illegal puppy trader tells all. Listen to what he says about the “animal mafia”.

People can sell pets anonymously on eBay’s classified ad sites around the world, including Gumtree (which is owned by eBay), making it very easy to sell illegal, sick and mistreated animals.

Help us push them into action! Get active here.

Sign our petition now

“It didn’t matter whether the puppies were healthy or as good as dead. Thanks eBay!”

A former illegal puppy trader tells all. Listen to what he says about the “animal mafia”.

Three victims of eBay’s classified ad sites.

Every year countless people are being affected by the cruel puppy trade taking place on eBay classified ad sites, for example Gumtree UK, Marktplaats and eBay Kleinanzeigen. Many of the animals are sick, some of them do not survive and the buyers are left helpless.

The real story of Patch

Sold via Gumtree (UK) and died after four days

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The real story of Simba

Sold via eBay Kleinanzeigen (Germany) and died in agony

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The real story of Django

Sold via Marktplaats (NL) and suffered from illness

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I saw an advertisement for some cute little puppies, and agreed to meet the breeder at a car park as he made some excuses as to why we couldn’t meet at his house. He showed me the mother dog along with the three pups in an old battered rusty cage in the back of a van. I fell in love with one particular pup, who I named Patch, and I knew he would have a good home with me.

I immediately took him to the vets for a check-up and my concerns, that he may have come from a puppy farm, were confirmed by the vet. His front legs were bowed (due to a poor diet) and he was only six weeks old and not eight weeks as stated in the ad. Patch got his injections but became very sleepy and lethargic in the following days. He vomited a lot and could barely stand. I brought him straight back to the vet again and he was given a wormer and an antibiotic injection. Despite the veterinary care his condition worsened. He was whining and crying, not being able to sleep due to discomfort, trying to lie behind the sofa, not drinking or eating. After days of suffering, he died in his sleep. Heartbroken doesn’t even come close to explaining how I felt.

I know it was a stupid move and in hindsight realise that my own naivety got in the way of rational thinking. I had always felt so strongly about puppy farms but I just felt that I needed to "rescue him". It is still quite raw emotionally thinking about it all now. (Rachel M., 2016)

My mother-in-law and I looked for a puppy on eBay classifieds and found an interesting ad. At the meeting point, at a seemingly arbitrary address (the name was not on the door), two men appeared with two little anxious-looking Chihuahua / Pekignese mix puppies. They told us that the animals were completely healthy, dewormed and used to eating both dry and wet food. We paid in cash, the seller gave us his mobile number for any queries and we said goodbye.

In the car, we noticed that the puppies had fleas. At home, we then discovered that both were suffering from yellow, slimy diarrhoea and had no appetite. The vet told us that we must feed them with milk, as they were separated from the mother far too early. The condition of Simba and Kira worsened steadily and Simba collapsed: diagnosis paravirosis. Despite the rapid veterinary treatment, we sadly lost him. We kept trying to save Kira with infusions and antibiotics. Occasionally her condition seemed stable and we could finally take her home, but then she had a relapse. She has still not fully recovered.

We contacted the seller, with no answer at all. We drove to the house again and asked the neighbours, but they did not know the men. We now know that it was a mistake to buy a puppy on Ebay Kleinanzeigen, but we will continue to fight with and for Kira. (Fiona H., 2017)

Last year we bought our puppy, Django, on Marktplaats. After a few days, he seemed to be terribly sick, so we went to the vet. We thought we would have to give him up. We learned that he must have been imported from Hungary, due to a sticker on his vaccination book. The vet estimated that he was only 3 months old while the booklet stated 4 months. That meant he was too young to even be allowed to cross the border. In those days, he was so sick that we slept on the sofa for nights to keep an eye on him.

The vet recommended we report the case to the animal protection centre and other authorities. They already had puppies under treatment from this seller and it turned out that the authorities had already conducted an investigation in 2015, during which several puppies had been confiscated. The seller said I could cancel the purchase and bring Django back, but yeah, I understood what he wasn’t saying – they would simply euthanise him and carry on with their practices.

I refused to send him back and vowed to do everything to make him better. Fortunately, that succeeded and he is now a happy big boy with a lot of energy. I hope that the traders get caught and it will stop soon!!! But I have my doubts about that. (Jacqueline, 2017)

How to take action:

You have had a bad experience with the cruel puppy trade on Gumtree. Upload a photo of your dog and send it directly to eBay!

You have not had a bad experience but you want the cruel puppy trade on Gumtree to end. Upload a picture and send it directly to eBay!

Make your mark on eBay’s wall of shame!

Whether you have first hand experience of the cruel pet trade or not, this wall gives you the chance to take a stand.

478 protesters already took a stand. Now it’s up to you!

FOUR PAWS is not responsible for content and statements uploaded by the users.

How puppies bred in cruelty end up on eBay’s classified sites

1. The breeders

The cruel puppy trade is driven by a network of puppy farm breeders that churn out puppies like they are products being made in a factory. This lucrative and cut-throat business puts money first and does not consider the welfare of the animals at all.

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For these breeders it is not important to raise healthy, happy puppies. Money is the priority. Female dogs are exploited as breeding machines that are bred from continually, only to be killed or abandoned once they are no longer able to be bred from. Kept in tiny cages, given inadequate food, they rarely see the light of day.

Every year, these breeding animals give birth to hundreds of thousands of puppies on puppy farms. Born in sheds or industrial buildings, these puppies are kept in dark, dirty cages without proper food or water. Often sick and living in fear. Compassion and love for animals is non-existent at these puppy farms.

After several weeks, this horror comes to an end and a new trauma starts: the puppies are separated from their mothers – far too early. They are transported hundreds of miles to the UK to be sold onto dealers who advertise them for sale as ‘home bred’ puppies on classified ad sites.

Puppies from these conditions are being sold anonymously on eBay’s classified sites, including Gumtree, and we want to see this stopped!

2. The drivers

Relaxation of the laws around cross-border transportation of animals in the EU has seen a huge rise in the number of illegal puppies being smuggled into countries like the UK where demand is high and profits can be huge for a pedigree puppy. Drivers will travel hundreds of miles with a van full of puppies from countries like Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Czech Republic, where it is cheaper to farm puppies.

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This is no small-scale operation. Those involved operate like criminal gangs which include a network of corrupt breeders, drivers and sellers, who all rely on classified ad sites to make the final sale.

Puppies are driven for days through Europe without adequate food and water, locked up in small cages in the back of dark lorries. Because the puppies are usually not properly vaccinated, the danger of infectious disease is high, and many of the animals become sick or even die as a result.

We believe most people buying on eBay’s classified sites, such as Gumtree, would be shocked to hear about the reality of this trade. You can help stop this by signing our petition today to call on eBay to stop the animal suffering, by ending anonymous sales and implementing seller identity verification!

3. The sellers

After the puppies arrive in the UK they are usually either sold by the transporter directly or passed onto a local seller who will advertise the puppies via classified ad sites such as Gumtree.

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It is difficult to find out on eBay’s classified sites which breeders are legitimate and which ones aren’t. All that the ad shows in terms of the seller is their name, email address and/or telephone number, all of which can be faked so that the seller cannot be traced.

It is also difficult to spot a suspicious seller when viewing the puppy. Often the seller appears genuine and will say that the puppies are ‘home bred’. The same also goes for the area in which the viewing takes place, which is usually in a very ordinary residential area.

We believe that eBay should protect its customers and the animals sold on its classified ad sites, by verifying the identity of all pet sellers advertising on their platforms. This will greatly help to reduce cruel and irresponsible sellers and help reduce the suffering of thousands of animals. Tell eBay to stop its classified ad sites being used as a business tool for cruel puppy traders by introducing seller identify verification on all of its classified sites! Seller verification means that sellers would need to provide proof of their identity first in order to sell animals and it would stop anonymous, untraceable sales!

4. The victims

When buying a puppy on an online classified ad site from a cruel puppy breeder, there is sadly hardly ever a happy ending! Often, the new addition to the family is sick or poorly socialised. Some even die.

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After a while it turns out, that instead of a healthy happy puppy, a very sick and traumatised dog was purchased.

A sick puppy can bring a lot of sadness and stress into its new owner’s life, not to mention potentially huge vet bills!

There can also be health risks for families that buy an illegally imported puppy, for example they may be affected by parasitic conditions that can also affect humans, such as tapeworms or giardia.

When these unwitting victims of the cruel puppy trade try to get answers about the state of their puppy, it is often not possible to reach the seller anymore. The seller can advertise an animal for sale with nothing more than their email address as identification, which makes tracing the seller very difficult.

If you yourself became a victim of the illegal puppy trade on Gumtree, please share your experiences with us on, and contact the relevant authority to report the case.

Checklist for buying a puppy

We always suggest that people who want a puppy first consider adopting from a local shelter, where there are always many animals waiting for a new home, including pedigree puppies.

However, if you do want to buy a puppy from a breeder or adoption is not an option for some reason, please take time to make an informed decision! The following checklist will help you:

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  • Avoid buying a puppy from advertisements, newspaper classifieds, the Internet or animal stores.

  • Make sure that you see the mother dog and ask for important paperwork for the puppy, such as vaccination and microchip papers and a pet passport, if applicable. A purchase agreement should be available as well.

  • Spend enough time with the puppy to make sure it’s the right temperament for you. Ask as may questions as you want – a responsible breeder should be happy to support you before and after buying a puppy.

  • Check the puppy’s eyes, nose and ears for discharge sores and look carefully for any fleas or skin problems.

  • Make sure the puppy is at least eight weeks old before it leaves its mother and check the paperwork for its first vaccinations.

  • If you have any concerns, ask a local vet to accompany you when you make a second visit.