Pets4Homes, the UK’s largest pet rehoming site, is taking proactive steps to combat the issue of impulse pet buying in the run up to Christmas.

Forty-five years since the creation of Dogs Trust slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’, Pets4Homes‘ use of advanced AI technology is actively preventing sellers from using Christmas-themed language when advertising puppies on their platform.

Reducing Christmas-Themed Puppy Ads

To discourage the practice of pets being portrayed as gifts, Pets4Homes employs sophisticated AI that automatically detects and blocks any advertisements on their website that explicitly link animals to being presents. This includes ads that feature puppies beside Christmas trees or any other imagery that implies gifting animals.

This year marks the second time Pets4Homes has employed this technology specifically for the Christmas season, following its success in November and December of 2022. During that period, it blocked over 2,300 misleading advertisements. Notably, this has resulted in a 70% reduction in Christmas-themed puppy adverts submitted to the platform this year compared to the previous year.

Addressing Impromptu Pet Adoption

Despite annual reminders that “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas,” impromptu and ill-conceived pet adoption remains a recurring issue during the festive season. Many buyers abandon their pets in January when they realize they lack the time or resources to properly care for animals acquired as presents.

Axel Lagercrantz, CEO and Co-founder of Pet Media Group, emphasizes the importance of responsible pet ownership. He states: “Pets are not temporary decorations or gifts; they are living beings that require love, care, and commitment. Promoting responsible pet ownership ensures the well-being of animals and helps prevent the abandonment of pets after the holiday season.”

Beyond the holiday season, this AI technology also plays a crucial role in identifying other significant factors related to animal welfare. It helps in flagging ads featuring animals with cropped ears, banned breeds, unclear or outdated images of puppies or kittens without an image of their parents, and incorrect categorisation of pet type or breed.