You can find anything on eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), right? Well... maybe not. Sure, you can bid on anything from jewelry to cars to antique Pez dispensers -- but if you were thinking of stuffing a stocking with a small, four-legged, tail-wagging friend, you're out of luck. As it turns out, you won't be able to find live pets any time soon, according to the online auctioneer, which almost changed its ban on such listings.

Indeed, the idea of buying pets on eBay seems to give a whole new spin to the idea of "live auctions." eBay does list fish and snails, but that's the closest it gets to anything remotely pet-like. According to articles from the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle, eBay had been considering a new classifieds category, which would have included free ads from animal shelters and paid ads from breeders. And I was joking with the "live auctions" crack -- eBay had planned to allow the listings, but would not have allowed bidding on its site, nor taken part in any sales transactions.

Increasing pet-supply sales on its site led the Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick to reassess the rule in the first place. Most of us know that pets are big business, with many folks now considering their furry friends an intrinsic part of the family. (That's one reason why PetSmart (NASDAQ:PETM) is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick, too.) eBay apparently saw a golden opportunity to attract more customers.

However, according to the article, thousands of eBay users wrote to complain about the idea, which an eBay manager revealed to the public on a discussion board. Most customers cited concerns that puppy mills might be encouraged to use the huge online community, or that it would be difficult for users to distinguish between reliable and less legitimate sources for animals.

Even without eBay, there are already ways to find pets online, regardless of many people's ethical concerns. Craigslist, the online classifieds service, does permit ads for pets on its site, and old-fashioned newspapers have long listed classified ads connecting pets with prospective owners.

That said, eBay's size and notoriety make it a prime candidate for PR problems when certain ethical situations arise. True, the company's reaction to the pet issue might be too cautious. But in this case, obeying the wishes of thousands of its community members may very well keep eBay out of the doghouse.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.