Sab Kuch Bikta Hai OLX pe, Even Pets. Are You Ok With That?

Since consumer is king, are you okay with giving your pet away to a stranger who approached you over the internet? 

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Stray dogs up for adoption. (Photo: Reuters)

A Change.org petition started by Vishanth Ragunath has created a furore online.

The petitioner has, in no genial terms, chided the large online marketplace OLX.in for its sale of animals. OLX, which describes itself as a “free local classifieds site” has over time arrested public fancy and shopping frenzy alike with its widespread advocacy of buying and selling pretty much anything on its platform – cars, mobiles, houses on rent, running shoes – you name it.

This, however, is a new development and what the petition has essentially done is open up a can of wriggling worms. The big questions are: is it morally advisable to buy/sell an animal on a digital platform as if it were a commodity? Or is it merely a way for a dog lover to adopt an obviously unwanted canine and take care of him/her?

This is currently what the OLX page under Category “Animals” looks like.

Screen Grab from <a href="http://olx.in/dogs/">OLX.in</a>
Screen Grab from OLX.in

Ragunath, in his petition to OLX CEO, Amarjit Singh Batra, has begun his petition pretty strongly, arguing that “If buying/selling a life is so easy, then why don’t we buy/sell our kids too?”

Animals are no commodities & no platform should encourage buying/selling of animals. In a country like India, platform like yours should educate people that animals cannot be sold. We want you to take down the “Animals” category and decline any sale of animals on your platform. You may be a corporate earning millions of money every day: our request is, if you cannot help animals directly, at least don’t ruin the sentiments of animal lovers.
– Vishanth Ragunath, Change.org Petitioner

He gives other reasons why he believes this should be stopped — ranging from allegations that OLX “does not verify its buyers/sellers” to issues such as many pedigrees of dogs may not survive in an Indian climate.

Most potential pet owners are so keen to own a fancy Labrador or Retriever that no one really spares a thought for Indian strays that actually need adoption, the petition claims.

OLX, meanwhile, has attempted some ‘not-so-smart’ damage control.

Sab Kuch Bikta Hai OLX pe, Even Pets. Are You Ok With That?

It only antagonised social media further, which lashed out at OLX’s “senseless and idiotic response”.

Sab Kuch Bikta Hai OLX pe, Even Pets. Are You Ok With That?

Ayesha Christina, Founder of Neighbourhood Woof, a community that helps local stray dogs in terms of vaccination, population control, canine injuries and community outreach, weighs in.

I completely agree with the petition. As someone who participates in adopting dogs – particularly street dogs – I always take my dogs with me when I’m verifying a potential buyer to make sure that that house is used to dogs. I need to ensure that they treat my dogs well.
– Ayesha Christina, Founder, Neighbourhood Woof

Christina understands that an online transaction happens at the click of a button, but she believes that encourages people to buy dogs without any sense of responsibility. She also rejects the argument that by spending big bucks on a dog, an owner is attaching value to it:

Look at the number of pedigreed dogs being brought up in humid Delhi conditions! There are so many St. Bernards being bought and sold in Delhi. They’re not doing very well... I honestly believe that if you were a genuine dog lover, you wouldn’t want to raise one here.
– Ayesha Christina, Founder, Neighbourhood Woof

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Animal rights lawyer Sonia Ghosh too checks in on the dissent box, arguing for an absolute ban on such transactions:

Breeders should be registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India and follow all existing guidelines.
– Sonia Ghosh, Animal Rights Lawyer

She believes this is difficult to enforce with something like an online platform.

OLX has, of course, in its Facebook response to Vishanth Ragunath’s petition, claimed that it “prohibits its users from selling anything that is illegal”.

Whether they undertake such checks or not is not the central issue, Are YOU okay with buying and selling an animal – a dog, cat, a turtle, a fish – online?

Are you comfortable with the idea that the person, who buys the creature you’re giving away, is not known to you? Are you sure that he or she will take proper care of it? Are you willing to make the distinction between a living creature and a commodity?

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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