Behaviour change agency, 23red, has worked with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on a creative campaign to enable the public to spot the signs of deceitful animal suppliers.
Called ‘Petfished’ the campaign takes its name from the term ‘catfishing’, the practice of pretending to be somebody else on social media. It highlights the issue of unscrupulous sellers profiting from the sale of puppies, kittens, dogs and cats with minimal regard for their welfare. The campaign budget is split between PR, social and paid search and is aimed at those considering a pet.
The heart of the campaign is a mini documentary created by 23red and production company Fat Lemon. The film features journalist Leah Green in conversation with two moving case studies of people who were ‘Petfished’. Both found animals locally from seemingly safe family homes, however, shortly afterwards their new pets became seriously ill. One owner’s new kitten was so unwell he had to be put down within a week.
‘Petfished’ seeks to raise awareness of the importance of conducting research before buying a pet by outlining some of the ‘red flags’ that buyers should look for when assessing sellers. It is hoped that this will increase the amount of people who report suspected illegitimate suppliers to local authorities and animal welfare charities. The campaign is supported by the RSPCA, Cats Protection, Blue Cross, Battersea Dog and Cats Home and Dogs Trust.
To amplify the campaign through social media, ‘23red is inviting pet-loving celebrities and dog and cat influencers to share creative #Petfished content and encourage people to consider #WhosBehindthePet.
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 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 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’.”