These policies are based on RSPCA principles
While pet sellers can be reputable individuals or breeders who treat their animals well, the ease of selling pets over the Internet also makes it attractive to irresponsible breeders who compromise animal welfare (e.g. puppy farmers) and potentially fraudsters. To protect yourself and ensure animal welfare, you must be careful and believe only what you see, not what you are told. Always arrange an inspection to check an advertiser’s standards of care and housing conditions, and that the animals are happy and healthy.
Remember that The Hot Wire Pets section is NOT intended to facilitate uncontrolled breeding, irresponsible commercial pet trading, trade of dogs or any other animal for the purpose of fighting or stud services. Any ads which promote this kind of activity and reported to us will be removed. Users are responsible for complying with The Hot Wire’s policies on adopting, buying or selling a pet and posting an ad on The Hot Wire.
The Hot Wire encourages, where possible, the adoption of pets and requires all pet owners to have their animals vet checked, vaccinated, desexed and microchipped even though some regions don’t require it.
The Hot Wire is a community site and we rely on your feedback to keep the site friendly and safe. We like to think of it as you, The Hot Wire community, ’policing’ the site and keeping out the bad guys. On each ad there is a ’Report ad’ button that allows you to bring to our attention any ad suspected of promoting uncontrolled/unsafe/unethical breeding practices.
You can also report these ads by clicking on the “Contact The Hot Wire” link located at the bottom of our Help pages and sending through all information you have about the ad (ideally the ad number), the email address of the advertiser and reasons why you believe you suspect the ad breaches The Hot Wire policies. We can then review the information and decide if we can take the ad down with the information provided. You should also report suspicious ads to your local RSPCA Inspectorate.
When looking for a pet online it’s important to meet the breeder or seller, and especially important to meet the pet, before you agree to anything. Since The Hot Wire is local to your community, this should be easy to arrange.
Never adopt/buy a pet from someone who is unwilling to let you see how and where the animal is living!
If you are searching for a pet on The Hot Wire, either via responding to posted ads or by posting your own ‘wanting to adopt/buy’ ad on the site, here are some tips and guidelines:
- Visit the pet seller’s home or place where the animal was bred to see how they raise and care for their animals. If the seller is a breeder and will not allow you to meet at least the mother of a puppy or kitten this is a major warning sign – find another breeder as this means they probably have something to hide.
- Many unethical sellers buy animals from puppy mills and similar sources/or run a puppy mill themselves but pass them off as home-raised. If you’re buying, or responding to a “free to good home” offer from an individual who is not a breeder, ask for as much information as possible about the animal’s history in terms of source, health records, and behaviour information – and also make sure you visit the place where they house the animal to check the living conditions
- Get references, including other customers and the seller’s veterinarian. Check them out and be vigilant to ensure that the pet is in good health.
- Get all health guarantees and other promises in writing. You should be given veterinary documentation confirming the animal has received a vet health check.
If you are interested in a particular breed of dog, be aware that different breeds are predisposed to different inherited diseases. Some dogs have also been bred for a particular ‘look’, resulting in exaggerated features that can lead to serious health problems.
- Adopt/buy from sellers who live in your area. Never allow a seller to transport the animal to you – always first visit the seller and make sure the housing conditions are of a high standard. If it’s a puppy or kitten make sure the mother dog/cat is happy and healthy.
- Avoid sellers located outside your local The Hot Wire city. Never send money outside your country no matter where the seller says the animal is located.
For further information on how to spot and avoid puppy farms/mills and further tips on finding a good breeder you can also refer to RSPCA’s guide for Smart Puppy buyers here.
If you are advertising your pet on The Hot Wire, here are some tips and guidelines:
- Advertise through friends, neighbours, and local veterinarians and contact your local RSPCA for advice first; then try The Hot Wire. Your chances of finding a good home are increased when you check references with someone you know.
- Visit the prospective new home in order to get a feel for the environment in which your pet will be living. Explain that the pet is part of your family and that you want to make sure he or she will be properly cared for. Screen potential homes and buyers/adopters very carefully.
- Don’t be fooled. If anyone refuses to allow you to visit their home, do not place your pet with them. Individuals known as “bunchers” routinely answer “free-to-good-home” ads, posing as people who want family pets when, in actual fact, they sell pets to animal dealers. Dogfighters have also been known to obtain domestic animals for baiting through “free-to-good-home” ads. These people are professionals who may even bring children or their mothers with them when picking up pets. Individuals may also try to breed from undesexed ‘free to good home’ animals or they may be animal hoarders.
- Always be mindful of your own safety when you go to interview potential adopters/buyers or if you allow a prospective adopter/buyer to enter your home. Always have a friend or family member with you.
- Carefully consider all the elements of the new home: Will the person be able to meet all of your pet’s needs and give them a good quality of life? Will your pet get along with small children? Will your pet be treated as a pet and loved as part of the family? How will your pet be housed? Will they be able to meet all of your pet’s physical, social and behavioural needs? Does the family have a veterinary reference and a veterinary clinic they go to? Don’t be shy about asking questions. Your pet’s life and happiness depend on it. You want to ensure your pet will be treated as part of the family.
- Ask for a valid form of photo identification including a street address (preferably a driver’s license). Record the number for your records and require the new owner to sign a contract stating the requirements of adoption upon which both parties agree. As part of the contract, require the new owner to contact you if he or she decides at some point that they must give up the pet
- Have your pet desexed (neutered or spayed) before he or she goes to the new home. This will make the animal more adoptable and help stop irresponsible breeding.
- If your pet is chronically ill or has behavioural problems, it may be difficult to find him a suitable home. A new owner may not be willing or able to deal with these issues, and it may also be difficult for the pet to adjust to a new home. The decision to humanely euthanize such a pet should not be made without thoughtful input from a veterinarian, a behaviourist, and the family, based on ensuring the welfare of the animal at all times.
Finding a quality home for your pet can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Remember: Your local animal shelter has qualified staff trained to screen and counsel adopters. Relinquishing your pet to your local shelter may be the best option for you and your pet.