In an effort to weed out unscrupulous pet brokers, online classified site Kijiji has started charging a fee to sell pets on the popular site.
Kijiji now requires pet sellers to pay $4.99 for each listing they post, "to prevent, detect, and discourage illegal pet vendors."
"Payable by credit card and PayPal, this measure provides Kijiji with additional information to assist in actions against illegal pet vendors. We will also donate a portion of fees generated to animal welfare agencies across Canada," the website states.
Selling pets online is a big business, but David Ross with the SPCA in Halifax said his organization gets a lot of unhappy calls from people who buy dogs online.
"It's more often than we like and it comes from various areas where the person has purchased one, gone to see one," he said.
Ross said too many puppies and dogs end up at the SPCA because there aren't any regulations surrounding the breeding and sale of companion animals in the province.
"If you look at their site today they have 1,100 dogs and cats for sale on that site — it's big, it's not small. So I think a move in that direction to provide some integrity to the site and to the people that are purchasing I think is a great idea," he said.
One notorious Nova Scotian puppy broker, Gail Benoit, has already been banned from Kijiji.
Shawn McIntyre, Kijiji's community manager, said this new fee is meant to keep people in check.
"It's what we consider to be the ethical use of our website," he said.
McIntyre said this isn't an attempt to make money. He said a portion of the payments collected will go to animal welfare groups.
"What we wanted to do was really to add a level of accountability on the side of our users as well as some traceability to be able to monitor a little better," he said.
Kijiji clarifies that animal welfare agencies and registered shelters are exempt from the fee.
Right now, Nova Scotia is looking at changing the law so that anyone selling a pet would need a veterinarian's certificate.
"Somebody needs to look at the industry as a whole," said Ross.
The SPCA said the province needs to go further and regulate the breeding of dogs and other animals.