eBay shelves plans for live pet listings

eBay has dropped plans to facilitate sales of live pets on its site after thousands of eBay members attacked the move as irresponsible.

The online auction company posted a notice on its discussion board on Friday asking members to weigh in on the plan. The notice said eBay planned to launch a live pets classified service early next year that would allow people to advertise animals for sale for a listing fee. The service would not be “transactional,” meaning eBay would not take part in actual sales or permit bidding, the notice said.

The notice has touched off a virtual uproar on the discussion board, with more than 2,800 responses. Most people posting messages opposed the move, saying the sale and adoption of pets over the Internet is generally a bad idea. “I would sure hate to have to start boycotting eBay as I have enjoyed my auctions with the service, but that is exactly what will happen if they start listing dogs for sale,” one discussion board member, Linda, wrote. “I’m sure that legions of animal lovers would follow suit. Don’t do it–too many abuses are already being made possible by the Internet.”

Now eBay is shelving part of plan. “We are no longer considering expanding eBay with the for-profit sale of pets by commercial breeders,” Hani Durzy, a spokesman for the company, said.

Critics of eBay’s plan worried it would help support irresponsible breeders, or “puppy mills,” that treat animals poorly. And without meeting animals before purchasing them, pet owners may end up with problem animals, which can lead to abandonment, said Karin Jaffie, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco SPCA, a pet adoption group.

“You don’t know what you’re getting, and you don’t know what conditions (the animal) is being kept in,” Jaffie said.

Others fear that the Internet lets unscrupulous buyers skirt the screening process used at many shelters. Screening is designed to save animals from gruesome fates such as being used as bait in dog fights or as test subjects in a research lab.

Still, the Web appears to be an ever more popular place to shop for pets. Pets are the fastest-growing category on LiveDeal.com, a free local classifieds site. The company said last week that “dogs” and “puppies” are the two most searched terms on its site. Craigslist, an online listing service partially owned by eBay, also allows pet ads.

eBay is still considering another piece of its plan that most discussion board commentators applauded–a listing service for shelters to facilitate pet adoption, Durzy said. He said the company has not decided whether it would charge a listing fee for such a service.

But Jaffie questioned what eBay would bring to the equation. Several Web sites, including PetFinder.org and Pets911.com, already provide those services to shelters, she said, adding, “I don’t see why eBay would try to create this.”

News source: News


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