Currently, authorities say that puppy trading on the internet is at an all time high. Now the new Animal Protection Act aims to prevent private sales of dogs and cats online, expressly stating that "publicly dealing in, or offering to buy or to sell animals on the Internet is forbidden". However, individuals who are looking to find a new home for their four-legged friend may still place an ad.
Animal protection societies such as Vier Pfoten are calling for an outright ban on any ads asking for money - and say animals must be of a minimum age before they can be separated from their mothers and handed over to new owners. Vienna's animal protection ombudswoman Eva-Maria Persy says that both demands have a good chance of being included in the new law, which is expected to come into effect at the end of March.
The online marketplace willhaben.at says that once the law comes into effect it will no longer allow any private pet ads to be placed on its site, as it will be hard to verify who is a private owner in need of rehoming an animal, and who is trying to make money by selling pets. Only approved breeders, animal shelters and animal welfare associations will be allowed to advertise. When the law comes into effect, around 8,000 ads that are currently online will have to be removed.
Michael Gawanda is head of security at willhaben, and says that it's good to have some clarity regarding the law on animal protection but that it's not clear how private owners are meant to advertise for new homes for their pets.
However, animal rights organisations are not happy about all aspects of the law - criticising the fact that choke collars are still allowed for police dogs, that piglets can be castrated without anaesthetic, and that game can still be bred for the purpose of hunts.