MONTREAL -- Canada's largest classified website is under pressure to ban the sale of household pets as part of a Montreal woman's quest to put an end to puppy mills.
Barbara Lapointe, who operates a dog-walking business, wants Kijiji to promote adoption from registered animal-rescue groups and families.
Lapointe's online petition, posted on the website Change.org, had collected nearly 48,000 signatures by Sunday.
"We want them to set the example and be the ethical leader on this," Lapointe said.
Lapointe is also trying to get her local municipality, the Town of Mount Royal, to ban the sale of animals in pet stores. She's hoping it will follow the lead of other Canadian cities such as Richmond, B.C., which banned the sale of puppies in pet stores in 2011.
Lapointe said cracking down on pet stores would eliminate a major marketplace for puppy mills but even then illegal breeders would "still be able to resort to online sales."
Kijiji Canada said it has no plans to change its policy.
Shawn McIntyre, the site's community manager, said it has set up a system to catch suspicious posts and prevent mills from using the site.
"We're choosing to work with the industry and do our best to keep it clean and safe," McIntyre said, explaining staff moderates posts and has partnered with animal-protection groups.
"We want to make sure that we're filtering out any bad users and not driving them underground."
The site, however, has had trouble blocking some sellers in recent years.
A Nova Scotia woman, Gail Benoit, was banned by the site after Kijiji said it received hundreds of complaints about her. But she continued to try to find ways around the ban by using fake names, different computers and getting others to post ads on her behalf.
Some of Kijiji's competitors have taken steps to cut pet sales altogether.
In August, the British Columbia-based site BuySellTrade.ca removed private pet ads altogether. It now only posts pets for adoption via the local SPCA.
Craigslist also no longer allows the sale of household pets. The site allows individuals to find new homes for their pets, sometimes at a small adoption fee.
Puppy mills continue to be a major problem in Canada despite stronger legislation in several provinces.
-- The Canadian Press