FACEBOOK has launched an investigation after it emerged users are raffling off dogs and horses in a bid to bypass the ban on animal sales.
Social media users are raising hundreds of pounds by selling raffle tickets for puppies and other animals.
Shocking examples of the trade include a Dachshund pup being raffled off at £50 a ticket while £100 a ticket is being demanded for a horse.
Animal charities today strongly condemned Facebook users who try to evade the ban on animal sales.
The Gambling Commission today also warned that such raffles are illegal and could result in a fine or imprisonment.
Facebook banned the sale of live animals three years ago amid concern that it opened the door to abuse. The social media site also bans lotteries of any kind.
But among posts in the past 12 months was one captioned: “Raffle. Boys got Cockapoo puppies here going to raffle one of them off 1/14 tickets £50 a ticket. Three to choose from I got one bitch and two dogs. Please share this.”
Another post showed a picture of a brown Cocker Spaniel chained to a gate with the caption: “Raffle. Cocker Spaniel bitch two years old. 1/59 tickets. £10 a ticket. Please share this.”
Yet another post announced: “Boys raffling this little Cocker Spaniel bitch eight weeks old. 1/14 tickets £60 each ticket cheap little bitch for £60 come on boys please share.”
Another user, hoping to make £630 in total, wrote: “Raffle Pomapoo boy dog eight week old. £45 a number 1-14. Micropchipped vaccinated ready to go. Good little dog.”
Horses were also raffled off, including one sale organised by a user from Derby, who wrote: ” Raffle time. Raffling this horse. A few people have asked me so let’s give it a go. One to 14 £75 pound a number what a win.
“This is no numbers to be paid until all sold. Share it people please let’s get it full.”
Another horse seller wrote: “Raffle. Raffle. Raffle. One -14 £50 per numberor two for £80. Draw to be done when all numbers are paid for.
A spokeswoman for Animal Aid said: “It is absolutely shocking to hear about animals being raffled on Facebook.
“It is totally wrong to treat any living being as a commodity or a prize to be won.
“We would ask anyone who can no longer care for an animal for any reason to contact a reputable animal shelter or rescue organisation.
“These organisations can make sure that animals find a loving forever-home, where they will be safe and looked after.
“Unfortunately this is something that cannot be remotely guaranteed when raffling animals on Facebook.
“We would also advise anyone who is able to provide a home to an animal to adopt from a local shelter; there are unfortunately so many animals in need of a home, and they will feel like they’ve won the greatest prize when they’re adopted into a loving home.”
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: “It’s completely irresponsible to offer an animal as a raffle prize and we would be very concerned to hear of anyone doing this.
“Anyone with welfare concerns about animals should contact us on 0300 1234 999 but please remember that as a charity we can only act within welfare laws when there is proof that an offence has been committed.”
A spokeswoman for the Gambling Commission said: “Lotteries can only be run to raise funds for good causes, they cannot be run for private or commercial gain.
“Any online lottery needs a licence from us or be registered with a local authority.
“Many of the lotteries we have seen promoted on social networking sites are unlawful and we work with those sites and the payment processors to close those lotteries down.
“As well as committing a criminal offence, the promoters of such lotteries may be breaching the terms and conditions of the site, so could have their profile removed, and run the risk of prosecution.”
A spokesman for Facebook said: “Facebook is investigating a potential breach of our commerce policies rule 6 which states that posts may not promote the sales of any animals.
“And rule 10 which states posts may not promote or facilitate online gambling, games of skill or lotteries, including online casinos, sports books, bingo or poker if it costs money.”