DDB and Paw Justice reunite, take aim at puppy mills

After its last successful campaign, DDB has again teamed up with Paw Justice launching a campaign yesterday that aims to push sites such as Trade Me into incorporating regulations to stop puppy milling. As part of the campaign dubbed ‘Don’t Trade Me‘, the agency and the not-for-profit listed auctions on Trade Me selling advertisements to support the campaign, and all of the ads sold out within the first five hours.

The ad developed by DDB paints an ugly picture of puppy milling industry, pointing out that animals are often kept in abhorrent conditions:  

“Every year thousands of puppies are sold online in New Zealand. Often these puppies start their lives in tiny, filth-ridden cages, innocently burdened with ongoing injury and illness. There are no rules about how puppies sold online are bred; sellers don’t need permits, vet checks and site visits, and they can overbreed their dogs without public knowledge or consequence.”

The release goes on to note that ‘puppies’ is one of the most popular search terms on Trade Me and over 35,000 cats and dogs were sold on the site in 2014 alone. 

“It’s time someone stood up against puppy milling,” says Paw Justice co-founder Craig Dunn. “Dogs are sensitive and loyal companions, not breeding machines to be locked up and used for money. Puppies should grow into happy, healthy adults, not dogs facing a lifetime of illness or disability because of irresponsible breeders who only care about profit. We need sites like Trade Me to play a role in regulating this industry. Puppy milling must stop.”

DDB executive creative director Shane Bradnick sees this as the next step in the struggle for animal rights.  

“Following the success of the Animal Strike campaign that successfully stopped the government from testing legal-highs on animals, we’re excited about mark two,” says Bradnick. “Paw Justice is a client focused on getting results, getting Kiwis to act to make a real difference. We know that a clever campaign can help create a much needed change in New Zealand that will benefit our furry little friends and their owners.”

Trade Me head of trust and safety Jon Duffy says the idea of puppy mills operating in New Zealand is a concern.

“We are happy to take information from any source that could suggest animals are being maltreated,” he says. “We regularly work with the SPCA on animal welfare issues. However, both the SPCA and Trade Me can only act on solid evidence and unfortunately, as this is an emotive issue we regularly see members jumping to conclusions and providing information about alleged maltreatment that turns out to be inaccurate when investigated by the SPCA.”

He says Trade Me also has an existing programme of work following engagement with SAFE and the SPCA to develop a code of responsible breeding for sellers on Trade Me.

“Some of the concerns outlined by Paw Justice could be covered in that code,” explains Duffy. “It is very much a matter of balancing what is practical against what has been proposed. For example, microchipping, minimum age for animals, and a requirement to have paper work for animals where appropriate, are all being considered.”

He adds that some of the issues raised fall beyond the remit of Trade Me’s scope of responsibility as an auction site.  

“Some of the other issues move into the realm of the Animal Welfare Act and these issues should probably be more appropriately directed at the Ministry for Primary Industries for a law change, rather than Trade Me,” he says. “Enforcing an age range for breeding dogs, for example, is something that could not realistically be done by Trade Me – and nor should it, we are a commercial entity, not a public sector enforcement agency.”

Duffy says he is a bit disappointed Paw Justice launched the campaign without speaking to Trade Me first. 

“If they had, they would have realised that some of the issues they are concerned with are being progressed currently. It is really important to remember that while Paw Justice is lumping all Trade Me members who have listed an animal for sale on the site with breeders who may be causing problems, this is not an accurate picture of landscape. There are many very responsible breeders who care a great deal for the welfare of the animals they breed and breed responsibly.”

DDB previously teamed with Paw Justice in 2013 on a campaign that asked Kiwis to spread opposition to a law allowing party pills to be tested on animals.

The campaign site asked people to support the campaign by putting the strike message on their animal-related blogs, YouTube channels and other social media pages. The companies say the petition got slightly more than 58,000 signatures.

The campaign had thousands of Facebook shares and retweets and #animalstrike previously trended on Twitter.

The website offered an HTML page for bloggers to swap out for their home page, a video that can be uploaded to people’s own YouTube accounts, and an image that can be used as a Facebook or Twitter profile picture.

Alongside the website, there were street posters, print ads, TV commercials, PR and billboards in dog parks.

The campaign also used Thunderclap, a social platform that allows users to send a message over Facebook and Twitter at the  same time if the project reaches its goal.

The target was 250 supporters, but that was exceeded by 335 percent, with a reach of 226,000. The entire campaign reached over 2 million people.

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