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Call to newspapers to assist with improving welfare

The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) was founded over four years ago and consists of member organisations such as the Kennel Club, Dogs Trust, The Blue Cross and, enjoys an association with the publishers of Exchange & Mart and Loot.

The Group’s Mission Statement is ‘Working together to promote ethical advertising of pets’ and its remit is to offer advice and guidance to readers and to encourage greater controls on who advertises.

An important advertising issue that the PAAG has been focussing on recently has been to try to convince the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that their remit should extend to private advertisers and that they should develop a formal Code for the advertising of ‘Companion Animals’.

PAAG representatives have met with the CAP and sought meetings with the ASA, but remain frustrated that neither organisation will recognise the issue of companion animals within their remit.

The PAAG has urged for the introduction of a Code, as the Animal Welfare Act now places a responsibility for companion animals on the owner, seller and the buyer for the care of that animal and this extends to the advertiser too, under the duty of care. Further, the Group is well aware of the problems publishers face with recognising a banned breed under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act prior to placing an advertisement and, has already implemented a great deal of work with regard to this issue.

Said Clarissa Baldwin, Chairman of the PAAG, "In a recent survey carried out by the Blue Cross it is suggested that 40% of companion animals are purchased through commercial sources, which is a vast amount. We have been working on various pet advertising issues, but unfortunately the CAP and the ASA are failing to engage with us, citing time and again that the CAP Code does not extend to "classified private ads, including those appearing on-line". We are immensely disappointed and somewhat bemused by this response as the majority of ‘products’ are covered by legislation and have their own advertising Codes, so why not companion animals, who surely should carry with them a great deal of responsibility and care?"

Due to the CAP’s ‘inactivity’, it is now the PAAG’s intention to build on the relationships that it already has with Loot and Exchange & Mart and would like to also start engaging with other media newsgroups, with a view to increasing the PAAG membership and in turn, its reach and influence.

Clarissa concluded, "We are aware that pet advertising is a major issue for many publications and we would therefore like to assist them in their endeavours to promote best practice, provide uniformity and transparency and ultimately, improve the welfare of the animals being bred, bought and sold via newspapers and online. We would therefore urge interested advertisers to contact us directly for further information and advice and possible participation at future meetings. "