THE pet industry will take responsibility for finding homes for dogs found dumped on the street or surrendered to shelters if checks reveal the animal was first sold through an accredited pet shop.
The unprecedented initiative has the potential to save the RSPCA, councils and other animal welfare shelters hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in the care and rehousing of unwanted pets.
The retail pet industry has suffered a black eye in recent years with its alleged association with "puppy farms" and attempts by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and animal welfare groups to ban the sale of cats and dogs in shops.
Pet Industry Association of Australia boss Roger Perkins said the new policy, to be released within weeks, would apply only to its members.
He said only about 50 per cent of pet shops were association members but he hoped the initiative would bring the majority of non-members on board or risk being shunned by consumers because they were not "accredited".
Mr Perkins said individual shops would be "absolved" from taking a pet back. Instead the "industry would take responsibility", with pets cared for by other members including kennels and groomers.
Details are yet to be released but the point-of-sale documentation is expected to be linked to the dog's microchip and kept on a database that could be checked whenever a stray is found.