The UK’s largest free online pet marketplace, Pets4Homes, has become the first platform of its kind to launch a deposit scheme, which ensures that a deposit – placed by a buyer in advance of first viewing of a potential pet – is not transferred to seller until a viewing has taken place. Implemented to offer peace of mind to both sellers and buyers, the Pets4Homes Deposit Service is an opt-in function which allows sellers to set the required deposit amount, which buyers then pay into a third party escrow account. Funds are only released once both parties confirm, via their Pets4Homes accounts, that they are satisfied that the deposit can be released.
An example of how the Pets4Homes Deposit Service might be used involves a would-be pet owner placing a deposit for a puppy or kitten. A physical or video viewing of their future pet would then be arranged, in accordance with Pets4Homes guidelines, in advance of the animal reaching 8 weeks (the minimum age for rehoming). Following a satisfactory viewing, the deposit is then released to the seller, with the buyer returning to make collection and final payment once their new pet is 8 weeks of age.
Pets4Homes is relied upon by more than 7 million Britons monthly and rehomes nearly 3,000 animals each day. It prioritises responsible practices and continually works to ensure trust, safety and convenience for buyers and sellers alike.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting increase in demand for pets, more than 150,000 animals were rehomed through Pets4Homes during June and July 2020. Across the UK, the imbalance between supply and demand led prospective owners more willing than ever to pay out large sums to ensure they take home their dream pet. Consequently, many opted to pre-pay large deposits to secure their purchase, risking exploitation when using unsecure platforms or informal channels. Beyond its range of pre-existing safeguards, the Pets4Homes Deposit Service is designed to take the financial risk out of the rehoming experience, and confirms Pets4Homes position as the most secure and ethical platform of its type in the UK.
The Pets4Homes Deposit Service has also been implemented to give breeders peace of mind. As pets are in high demand, it is increasingly common for potential owners to arrange viewings with multiple breeders to ensure that they do not miss out on rehoming a pet. Late cancellations close to collection can be devastating for breeders and to minimise this risk the Pets4Homes Deposit Service only allows one active deposit to be placed at any given time. Additionally, using the service sets responsible breeders apart in the eyes of potential buyers, showing them to be reliable and conscientious.
Sellers can opt-in to the Pets4Homes Deposit Service, and set the required deposit amount at 15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent of the total purchase price. Buyers can then safely pay the deposit through Pets4Homes, where it is then held in an escrow account until both parties have confirmed that they are happy for the deposit to be transferred. The service will be free-of-charge for sellers, whilst buyers are charged a 9 percent service fee (or a minimum charge of £8) for each completed deposit. If a buyer cancels a deposit, or a rehoming does not go through, the deposit will be refunded to the buyer’s bank account. This means that deposits for the first time can be placed with greater security and peace of mind.
Axel Lagercrantz, CEO of Pets4Homes comments: “Any marketplace inherently suffers from a small minority attempting to exploit the goodwill of new owners. Since inception more than 15 years ago, Pets4Homes have therefore always advised against sending deposits to strangers. With the increased demand for pets however, we realized that deposits had become a rule rather than an exception. This is why we are proud to be able to introduce the first safe deposit service of its kind in the UK, specifically implemented for animal lovers and responsible breeders, as well as charities and shelters needing help to rehome a pet. Our Pets4Homes Deposit Service highlights our commitment to, and focus on, making the experience of rehoming a pet as safe and convenient as possible. We look forward to adding more verification services in the coming months, to further strengthen the trust and safety aspect for our users, and uphold the safety of the pets being rehomed through the site.”
This launch follows Pets4Homes’ recent roll-out of a verification scheme, requiring sellers to confirm their UK-based phone number, adding an additional layer of security on top of the company’s own tools and manual moderation efforts. Additional safety checks that Pets4Homes has implemented include:
- Verification checks – In addition to the Pets4Homes Deposit Service, Pets4Homes has a number of verification features within the platform. The platform requires licenced breeders to submit a copy of their licencing details and displays the licence details publicly where relevant. Additionally, each seller is required to confirm their UK-based phone number, adding an additional layer of security on top of Pets4Homes’ own tools and manual moderation efforts.
- Animal welfare, regulations and advice – Pets4Homes has a zero tolerance approach to unethical sale of animals and puppy farming. Each advert posted on Pets4Homes is manually reviewed to ensure that it abides by the company’s strict animal welfare standards, resulting in around 40 percent of all adverts being declined. Unacceptable listings include: pets advertised as gifts or presents; puppies without a photo of the mother; imported pets for the purpose of being sold; sellers offering a delivery or courier service; “designer” pets, amongst many other additional factors.
- Community guidelines – With over 6,000 articles written by veterinarians, reputable breeders and experts, Pets4Homes offers advice to buyers and sellers on pet health, care and behaviour. Additionally, Pets4Homes have full breed profiles and thorough rehoming checklists for each pet type, as well as a Trust & Safety portal. Pets4Homes also operates PetForums, the largest pet forum in the UK, where animal lovers and experts can exchange experiences and share advice.
In addition to its own Trust & Safety team, Pets4homes offers an in-platform “report” function, which is monitored around the clock seven days a week by the Trust & Safety team. All reports are investigated thoroughly, and Pets4Homes liaises with local councils and the RSPCA, to resolve potential concerns from the community. Pets4Homes also upholds the Animal Welfare Act, Lucy’s Law, PAAG’s minimum standards and is actively petitioning the Government to ban unethical importing of puppies, to prevent the abuse of animals and puppy farming.
Pets4Homes is a free-to-use platform accessible via web browser or its iOS and Android apps. Potential buyers can browse Pets4Homes for free without creating an account. When they’re ready to commit to rehoming an animal, buyers simply need to create an account with Pets4Homes. Buyers can refine their search to type of animal, breed, location, pet age, among other options, and can safely communicate with sellers through Pets4Homes’s internal messaging system.
Further details on Pets4Homes’ policies can be found on their website.