Dear Mr. Candelario,
It’s been exactly 365 days today since I first wrote you.
When I launched my petition to stop the sale of animals on Kijiji Canada last year, I did not expect to get 67,300 signatures, nor did I expect to get the support of the Winnipeg Humane Society, the Montreal SPCA, the SPCA Saguenay, the BC SPCA and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, a national organization representing 46 humane societies and SPCAs in Canada.
I did not anticipate receiving hundreds of comments from Kijiji users who have been cheated by unscrupulous animal breeders on your site. I never expected to have so many people email me stories about their beloved pet they got on Kijiji only to discover, to their great distress, that it was sick, or when they tried to contact the seller about it, he had vanished without a trace. I never imagined the emotional and financial burden these people go through.
I certainly did not expect to get national media attention in the press, radio and TV across the country. I did not expect to get the Royal Bank of Canada to stop advertising on Kijiji’s pet sale pages, nor to get the help of so many supporters in convincing the National Bank of Canada, Tangerine Bank, Toyota Canada, and the shopping website zulily to pull their ads, too. And I could never have dreamed that my national call-in day of action to stop the sale of animals on Kijiji would drive so many Canadians to leave you a message.
I did not expect that I would spend so much of the little spare time that I have – because running a social campaign is not my day job – to attempt to convince you why it is so wrong of Kijiji Canada to sell animals and why you should instead allow only adoptable animals on your site.
We talked once – briefly - last November during a conference call with your team of experts. You gave me the same cookie-cutter answers you give to the media and the public, and repeated exactly what is written on your FAQs page. I know that you made an effort to change your pet listing policy a few months ago by charging $4.99 per dog ad. But even with this change, your website continues to reveal the existence of several ads that do not meet your posting policies, such as ads promoting the sale of animals under 8 weeks old, ads illegally selling purebred dogs without registration papers, and posting dogs for sale under “Accessories” to avoid paying the $4.99 charge.
But at least I expected that you would write. That you would perhaps acknowledge the increasing popularity of the petition, the growing list of companies disassociating themselves from the sale of pets on Kijiji Canada, the testimonials of disappointed Kijiji users, and the voicemails from supporters, or that you would admit your lack of control over the content of your site. I hoped that, as the General Manager of Canada’s most popular free, local classifieds site, you would warn Canadian consumers about the sale of animals on online classifieds sites. That you would care about animal welfare and be responsible enough to protect your users.
Don’t tell me that your “partners in Animal Welfare prefer this” because I can list you way more animal welfare groups and shelters that are against the sale of animals on classifieds sites. And don’t remind me that you continue to sell animals on your site because you “don’t want to take the easy way out, which is to close the section – driving traffic to another website that might not care at all.” Kijiji should be doing the right thing, regardless of what other websites are doing. As the leader of classifieds sites in Canada, you should set an example and ban pet sales on your website, sending the message that animals should not be sold as just another item via classified ads.
Puppy mills and unethical breeders may continue to exist even if Kijiji Canada stops the sale of animals on its site, but at least you would not give them an easy platform to thrive on. As long as you know that animals with health problems (perhaps because of the conditions under which they are raised and bred) are being sold on your site, and as long as you know that users are being cheated by unethical animal breeders on your site, you should not be selling animals. Kijiji Canada condemned prostitution when it prohibited erotic products and escort and sexual services. Can you take a stand to protect animals, too?
We never asked you to close your pets section. Kijiji is a great site for our community – I use it to sell my kids’ toys and clothes - but it’s not the place to buy and sell animals. We need Kijiji Canada to help thousands of friendly and healthy pets waiting in shelters and in registered rescue groups across Canada to get adopted. We also need you to help individual families carefully rehome their pets for a small adoption fee to ensure their future well-being. Why close this section when all this traffic could be going your way?
Until I get a genuine response from you as to why Kijiji Canada continues to sell animals, I will keep writing you. Because I have 67,300 people who are backing me up. Because I don't want to let them down. Because I care about animals and people, and I know you do, too.
It is time for Kijiji Canada to be a hero, and for you to be a corporate leader.