PETA India sends letters to OLX, Quikr to ban online sale of pets

Animal rights body PETA India on Thursday alleged that online portals OLX and Quikr allow users, including dog breeders, to sell live animals and violate other animal-welfare regulations.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India sent letters to both the portals asking both the websites to ban the online sale of "pets".

While OLX said that the company was cognisant of the laws in relation to pets and had taken necessary steps to seek advertisers' compliance with the rules, Quikr said it fully supported the petitioners and authorities in eradicating cruelty towards animals.

PETA India's senior corporate liaison Ajay Welinkar said, "By allowing the sale of animals on their Indian websites and treating them as unfeeling commodities, OLX and Quikr are putting them at risk of being purchased by abusive people or impulse shoppers who are simply not prepared to provide them with lifelong care."

PETA India is calling on these portals to protect animals by adopting a ban on sale of living animals, the body said.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing) Rules, 2017, prohibit selling puppies under eight weeks old, yet, it alleged, both OLX and Quikr had allowed users to sell puppies and kittens younger than 2 months of age.

Indian law also prohibits the import of dogs into the country for commercial activities such as breeding, yet some Quikr users sell ones described as having "imported" parents or lineage, it alleged.

In its letters to the companies, PETA India also alleged that dog-fighting, in which animals were often forced to fight to the death, was increasingly common in the country, and some breeds typically used in these fights, such as Dobermanns, pit bulls, and German shepherds, were being sold on the two websites.

It alleged that Quikr also facilitated the sale of other species that were likely used for unlawful activity, including goats and hens, who might be purchased to be killed outside licensed slaughterhouses, pigeons, which were likely used for illegal racing and other birds, which might be caged and wings clipped in violation of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.

PETA India alleged that sellers on OLX commonly held fish out of the water in order to display them for photos, an undoubtedly traumatic experience for the fish and a violation of the PCA Act, 1960, which made it a punishable offence to cause animals "unnecessary pain or suffering".

An OLX spokesperson said the company was cognisant of the laws in relation to pets and had taken necessary steps to seek advertisers' compliance with the rules.

"In the interest of adhering to safe practices and our pursuit to protect animals from exploitation, we educate our users about various laws applicable to the purchase and sale of animals. We strictly allow registered breeders in regulated pets categories.

"As a marketplace, we regularly take steps to strengthen our technical filters to prevent any unscrupulous breeders to post on our platform. Additionally, we work with various law enforcement agencies to ensure our cooperation in any investigations and ensuring safe practices," the spokesperson added.

On the other hand, a Quikr spokesperson said the company was recently made aware of dog breeding malpractices by a few petitioners.

"We thank them for bringing it to our attention. We are committed towards healthy community practices and are always looking to evolve and working on doing the right things," the Quikr spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said they launched an e-mail campaign under "Quikr Cares" to educate its consumers about dog breeding and marketing rules, 2017.

They were given about three weeks to produce the necessary documentation with a request to delete the ads and it deleted them if they did not meet the criteria.

"We also spoke to about 600 plus customers to educate them about these rules. While the awareness was low, 30 per cent were willing to apply for the certification, a few said they have the license, some others showed resistance stating these rules were being discussed with the authorities," the spokesperson said.

It said that on the product side, some of the key rules of AWBI were prominently displayed for both sellers and buyers on its platform.

"Consumers cannot proceed to post an ad without AWBI/State Animal Board registration number and the certificate.

"We have deleted a few thousand ads and it's work in progress. Our plan is to continue to educate consumers and encourage them to adopt. We fully support the petitioners and authorities in eradicating cruelty towards animals," the spokesperson added.