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Now open: Virtual pet shop for dog sellers, buyers online

By , Marielle Medina and Denison Rey Dalupang

MANILA, Philippines—How much is that doggie online?

As much as you’re prepared to pay if you want one so badly, it seems.

Danica Domingo, 29, bought Rocca, her English bulldog, from a seller on sulit.com.ph earlier this year.

“I was really looking for an English bulldog and got in touch with this seller on Sulit. He was an experienced dog breeder, and he was selling for a really low price,” she said.

After negotiating for a week online, Domingo, who is from Quezon City, agreed to meet the seller in Tayuman, Manila.

“I was nervous at first, because the area was not that accessible and was near the slums,” said Domingo, who was buying a pet online for the first time.

“I realized I did not even know the seller’s real name. But when we asked around if they knew a dog breeder in the area, the people knew immediately whom I was talking about,” she said.

Domingo initially paid P17,000 for Rocca, whom she chose from three bulldogs that the seller was offering.

“It was love at first sight,” she said.

It was also love at first sight for dog-lover Dianne, 33, who bought her yellow labrador retriever, Amber, from a seller on Buyandsell.ph in 2006.

Cheaper online

“At the time, I really wanted a labrador. The problem was, I did not know anyone who was selling a labrador, and it was too expensive to buy from pet shops,” she said.

“So I tried to look online, and I found the dog breeder there,” she said.

According to the breeder, the puppy Dianne wanted was on display at a pet store. “She told me to check it out and to tell her if I wanted to buy the puppy so she could pull it out from the store. So I visited, and I loved the puppy the moment I saw it,” Dianne said.

She immediately informed the breeder and was able to buy Amber the following day for P8,000—cheaper than the prevailing rate of P12,000 in pet stores.

Open 24/7

More than being a means of connecting people and a platform for sharing information, the Internet has also become a virtual marketplace for pet dogs that is open 24/7.

After just six months in the online buy-sell-deal business, Pinoy Best Deals (PBD) already has a wide array of dog pet selections, said Jesse Rebustillo, the PBD head.

Rebustillo said various breeds, from the Spitz-type chow to the high-maintenance Yorkshire terriers and Siberian huskies, were being sold online.

But it’s the Shih-Tzu puppies that are most sought-after by buyers, he said.

The national dog

“It’s the Pambansang Aso ng Pilipinas!” he said. “Most Filipinos love small dogs. Next to it are chihuahuas and poodles.”

Shih-Tzus are priced at around P8,000 at PBD, while high-end breeds like the huskies and French bulldogs cost around 30,000 and 35,000, respectively.

Carlo Sebugero, the administrator of www.pinoybestdeals.com, which is part of the Inquirer Group, noted that while bulldogs were valued highly in the online market, they only rank second to Shih-Tzus as potential pets, in terms of views and clicks.

To be able to post an ad on PBD, a seller has to register and provide the necessary details, including pictures of the dog, vaccination given, age, price and location.

Sebugero said it was the buyer who should contact the seller. The website is a means of connecting  seller and buyer, he explained.

Adopt instead

However, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) would prefer it if people would adopt pets instead of buying from breeders.

“There are a lot of animals in our shelters, and we encourage people to adopt and to help these animals instead of buying online or in pet stores,” said Peta senior campaigner Ashley Fruno.

“There are already a lot of stray cats and dogs in our animal shelters that need our care. There is no need to breed more cats and dogs. This is why we discourage the selling of pets online or in pet stores,” she said.

Complaints

While she thinks the practice is legal, Fruno said Peta had received several complaints about online sellers and pet store owners selling sick animals.

“Because you don’t have the proper background of the animal, there is no guarantee that the pet you bought is well and you may end up spending more money,” she said.

She said the Philippine Animal Welfare Shelter in Quezon City had its own vets who perform regular checkups.

“When you buy online, it always carries a risk, especially if you don’t know the seller personally,” Domingo said.

Domingo learned about these risks immediately after she went to pick up Rocca. “I wanted to buy a male bulldog because it was cheaper, but because we were in such a hurry, we forgot to check. Rocca is actually female,” she said.

“And they’re supposed to be worth P25,000. I just agreed to pay the balance when I got her papers,” she said.

She also had to take Rocca to the vet after observing that she was weak. “It was only then that I found out she was in fact already sick,” she said.

Domingo has been with her pet for about six months. “She’s my stress-reliever after a long day at work,” she said.

Growing family

Dianne and Amber have been together for seven years, and their family has grown. “We currently have five dogs,” she said, though Amber is the only one she bought online.

“I haven’t bought another pet from an online store since then, but when we were looking for a partner for our other dog, we also looked online,” she said.

Dianne’s other dog, Roxy, a female mini-dachshund, recently gave birth to five puppies. She found her mate through sulit.com.ph.

“I kept two of the puppies, gave one to a cousin, then sold the rest to friends whom I knew would really take care of them,” she said.


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Tags: Danica Domingo , dog sellers , English bulldog , Pet shop

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