Belgian animal welfare group to fight online illegal pet trade 


FOUR PAWS joins the new animal welfare group BelgPAAG. 

The international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is now part of the new animal welfare group BelPAAG (Belgian Pet Advertising Advisory Group) and will work jointly with the group to promote responsible pet advertising. The unscrupulous trading of puppies and other animals online is a growing concern across and outside Europe, due to the fact that no EU legal framework regarding the online sale of pets exists, which makes this trend difficult to control.

"We are looking forward to cooperating with BelPAAG and we will work towards a collaboration to further strength consumer awareness and to track and regulate this sector. FOUR PAWS has been actively involved in tackling the illegal online pet trade via classified ads since 2016, and has developed a set of measures to protect animals sold online. In addition, it has ranked the 42 classified sites which it researched according to these measures. FOUR PAWS’ International Pet Deception campaign ( has so far shown tangible results with some classified ad sites, introducing the measures to make their sites safer for consumers and for the pets sold on their sites. This includes Belgium, as it plays a significant role in tackling the illegal trade of pets. In this regard, our EU office in Belgium has ranked the three main classified ads websites, with whom we liaised to improve their rules."

Pierre Sultana, Director of the FOUR PAWS European Policy Office in Brussels 

From the outset, animal welfare organisations, trade associations and veterinary bodies in the UK joined the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG), created in 2001. PAAG was established to combat and raise public awareness of irresponsible and unscrupulous selling and buying of pets online. The Belgian branch will establish a list of compliant websites based on IPAAG Minimum Standards, including providing important information on the responsible buying of pets and providing a mechanism for the public to report adverts which do not meet IPAAG’s requirements. 

"It is important that organisations join forces to lobby classified ad sites to introduce measures which protect animals being sold online. The lack of legislation in this area means that we need classified ad sites to take responsibility for ensuring that their sites are safe for both animals and consumers. One way to do this is to introduce the measures that have been developed by BelPAAG and FOUR PAWS. If introduced, these measures will not only help to reduce illegal activities, but also increase responsible selling and buying of pets online."

Julie Sanders, Director of the FOUR PAWS Companion Animals Programme 

FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orang-utans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly.