23red creates campaign to tackle dangerous pet sellers

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

23red has partnered with with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to create a campaign warning the public against deceitful animal suppliers.

The behaviour change agency has created 'Petfished', a campaign targeting careless sellers who sell puppies, kittens, dogs and cats with minimal regard for welfare - many of which end up needing serious care or even euthanasia once bought.

The campaign is based on 'catfishing', where a person pretends to be someone they're not online - matching how many pet sellers pretend to be a reputable, safe resource for buying animals, but are purely money-driven.

At its heart is a documentary created by 23red and Fat Lemon, featuring journalist Leah Green covering two case studies of people who were ‘Petfished’. Both were looking for pets from safe family homes - but ended up with seriously ill pets, including a kitten whose difficulties were so severe it had to be put down within a week.

The campaign is supported by the RSPCA, Cats Protection, Blue Cross, Battersea Dog and Cats Home and Dogs Trust. It is divided between PR, social and paid search strategies.

Wendy Manuel, Business Director at 23red, said: “Sadly, research has shown that one in five vets have reported an animal seller to authorities after treating an illness likely caused by poor breeding conditions. This is a disturbing sign that low-welfare breeders are operating on a much larger scale. We hope this campaign empowers the public to check #Who’sBehindThePet before parting with their money.”

Charlotte Armitage, Deputy Head of Campaigns for Environment, Water and Welfare at DEFRA, said: “This new campaign aims to help prospective pet buyers make the best possible choices before welcoming a new dog or cat into their home. We’re seeking to highlight the importance of researching who you are buying or adopting a pet from, to avoid being ‘Petfished’.

"The campaign encourages everyone to read our tips on how to spot warning signs that an animal has been raised in low welfare conditions by searching ‘Get your pet safely’.”