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Help TAPACT Bust Illegal Internet Puppy Sellers

:Jaquelin Yang, for TAPACT

Image: https://www.galioninquirer.com/features/lifestyle/53602/dont-fall-for-internet-puppy-scams 

If you have friends or family who are looking to add a new pet to their home, we definitely recommend that they check local shelters and non-profit organizations first. Shelters often have all kinds of cats and dogs, and even if you have your heart set on a  particular breed, keep an open mind. You might be surprised by who you fall in love with! 

Although we rarely see the pet shops of the past in our malls anymore (thank goodness!), some of these sellers have found a new home on the internet in the form of Facebook, Instagram, and Craigslist posts. In addition to reminding friends and family to #adoptdontshop, it’s important to report these illegal sellers and prevent them from reaching a wide audience.  


Although there are reputable shelters and adoption agencies on Facebook, there are also many illegal breeders masquerading as trustworthy sellers. Facebook’s Commerce Policy explicitly states, “Listings may not promote the buying or selling of animals [including]: live animals, livestock, and pets.” 

To report a seller on the Facebook Marketplace, take the following steps: 

  1. From your News Feed, click Marketplace.
  2. Find the listing that you want to report, and click the 3 dots. 
  3. Choose “Report Post.”
  4. Choose “Unauthorized Sales.” 
  5. Choose “Other Animals.”
  6. Choose “Yes, I want to continue filing this report.”
  7. Facebook will send you a message once action has been taken. 

Image: https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/blog/puppies-dont-belong-on-craigslist-or-facebook/ 


There are so many cute animals on Instagram, but before you send money to a seller, know that what they’re doing is not allowed. Since Instagram is a subsidiary of Facebook, it’s subject to the same policies. Many people claiming to have animals for sale are not only scamming users but also potentially putting animals at risk by breeding or selling them under unsafe conditions. 

To report a suspicious Instagram post, take the following steps: 

  1. Go to the post. 
  2. Tap the 3 dots. 
  3. Tap “Report.” 
  4. Choose “It’s inappropriate.” 
  5. Choose “Sale of Illegal or Regulated Goods.” 
  6. Choose “Animals.”
  7. Instagram will send you a message if the post is taken down. 

Image: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-21/puppy-scammers/8943034 


Craigslist posts can be tricky. This is Craigslist’s official policy: “pet sales (re-homing with small adoption fee ok), animal parts, stud service” are prohibited. Some sellers take advantage of the loophole. By looking carefully at posts, you can help flag any users who are puppy mills or backyard breeders in disguise. 

Look out for sellers who are trying to “rehome” very young puppies that are advertised as “purebred” as an excuse for high rehoming fees. Another sign of backyard or illegal breeders is sellers who have either have entire litters up for “adoption” or “just a few left.” 

To report a Craigslist post, take the following steps: 

  1. Click on the post. 
  2. Click the flag. 
  3. The post will appear grayed-out after it’s been flagged, and when you return to the post later, it should be marked as “Removed due to Violating Community Guidelines.” 

Image: https://www.searchallcraigslist.org/puppy-scam-preys-on-innocent-holiday-shoppers/ 

Image: https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/blog/puppies-dont-belong-on-craigslist-or-facebook/ 


OfferUp takes a firm stand against the illegal sale of animals: “Our policy around animals and wildlife products represents OfferUp’s commitment to improving animal welfare in our own communities and in helping to protect threatened and endangered animals around the world. You can certainly post many types of animal products. However, live animals are never allowed, including: Cats, Dogs, Fish, Marine mammals, Reptiles such as lizards or snakes, Horses or ponies, Hamsters, gerbils, rabbits or other pets, Farm animals such as chickens, goats, pigs, or cows, and Insects.” 

To report a seller on OfferUp:

  1. If you see a prohibited item on OfferUp, please report it in the app. 
  2. On that item’s page, tap “Report.”
  3. Then choose “Prohibited on OfferUp.”
  4. Then choose “Done.”


Animals are not objects, so why are they being sold like they are on sites like Mercari? Mercari specifically forbids the sale of “Live animals or trafficked materials (such as ivory or shark fins).” 

To report a seller on Mercari: 

  1. Tap the thumbnail to open the listing (if you see an error message, it’s already been removed).
  2. Tap the flag in the top right corner.
  3. Select the reason you’re reporting it.
  4. Tap “Submit” and “YES” to confirm.


Twitter’s official policy states, “In an effort to address the potential for real-world harm, we do not allow the use of Twitter for any unlawful behavior or to further illegal activities. This includes selling, buying, or facilitating transactions in illegal goods or services, as well as certain types of regulated goods or services.” We hope that Twitter will take a clearer stand to help protect animals in the future, but in the meantime, you can help keep animal sellers off of the site by reporting them.

To report a post on Twitter: 

  1. Tap the 3 dots on the post.
  2. Choose “Report Post.”
  3. Choose “It’s suspicious.”
  4. Choose “It’s something else.” 

Illegal animal sales are more rampant than ever. Many people might be unaware that selling animals online is illegal, and this problem has spread throughout the United States. If you have free time, check out the listings in other regions. By doing our part to report these posts, we discourage sellers from trying to make a profit off these animals’ lives and help pets find a home through safer and more legitimate routes. 

Helpful Links: 

Facebook’s Commerce Policy

Facebook: Reporting Sellers

Instagram: Reporting an Account

Craigslist Prohibited Items

OfferUp Prohibited Items

Mercari: Prohibited Items