Online pet homing service Pets4Homes has launched a deposit scheme to protect both buyers and sellers as demand for animals continues to soar.
The scheme has been set up in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, which led to a huge increase in demand for pets, with more than 150,000 animals being rehomed through the site in June and July alone.
Pets4Homes said that, across the UK, the coronavirus lockdown led to an imbalance between supply and demand for pets, with prospective owners being ever more willing to pay out large sums to secure their desired pet.
Consequently, many opted to pre-pay large deposits to secure their purchase, risking exploitation when using insecure platforms or informal channels.
More than seven million Britons use the Pets4Homes site every month, with nearly 3,000 animals homed every day. The company says it prioritises responsible practices and continually works to ensure trust, safety and convenience for buyers and sellers alike.
The new deposit service is an opt-in function that allows sellers to set the required deposit amount, which buyers then pay into a third party escrow account. Funds are released only once both parties confirm, via their Pets4Homes accounts, that they are satisfied the deposit can be released.
To use the service, a would-be pet owner will place the deposit for a puppy or kitten, after which a physical or video viewing of their future pet would be arranged, in accordance with Pets4Homes guidelines.
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 at least eight weeks of age..
With pets in high demand, the service is also designed to protect breeders from prospective owners who arrange multiple viewings in an effort to secure their pet, as it will only allow registered users to place one deposit at a time.
Axel Lagercrantz, CEO of Pets4Homes, said: “Any marketplace inherently suffers from a small minority attempting to exploit the goodwill of new owners, Pets4Homes has 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.”