After further discussion with the community, we have decided NOT to add a virus testing clause to the Default Store Policy (DSP). While our intentions are good, the complexities of such a process make it difficult to recommend a specific policy that is fair to all parties.
What are we doing instead?
We have added a comment to the DSP that any virus testing should be discussed prior to purchase so that a procedure can be agreed upon as well as recourse in the event of a positive result.
Why did we change our minds?
Our understanding of some of these viruses and how to test for them is still relatively new and developing. Virus testing is a good idea, but it also creates complexities within the transaction which make it difficult to recommend a good across-the-board policy. While our default can be overridden, it can give the appearance that sellers who endorse a different policy are untrustworthy, which is rarely the case.
Buyers sometimes don't realize that trust is a two-way street, and sellers can also be put at risk. For instance, if not properly quarantined, the animal could actually pick up a virus from the buyer's facility. Also, some buyers might try to abuse this policy to try to gain an advantage. Finally, both false positives and false negatives in these tests do occur. For these reasons and others, we encourage each breeder to determine their own policy and for buyers to ask about it if they are concerned. As we always say, at the end of the day you should buy from someone you trust, and this topic is no different. To that end, we provide a variety of tools to help buyers connect with sellers they can trust.
What does MorphMarket do to protect against sick animals?
As mentioned above, we are encouraging concerned buyers to raise this topic with the seller prior to purchase. This matters because any written agreements supersede the store policy which supersedes the default policy in the event of a dispute which MorphMarket will moderate. This has always been true.
If a buyer were to report positive tests, even if we could not moderate that particular transaction, we would still investigate. If we can establish with confidence that a seller is selling unhealthy animals, we will remove them from the marketplace. Thankfully in the few instances where this has occurred, the breeders had already conscientiously removed themselves until they could restore health to their collection. This has always been true.
Buyers also have the opportunity to leave negative feedback on a seller in the event of a failed test. Some buyers might wish to wait to leave a rating until such tests come back. The ratings system on our site is alone enough to provide checks and balances for this problem and others. This has always been true.
In addition, we will provide more resources to help continue to educate the community about what we know about this topic.
We believe it's in every keeper's best interest to quarantine new animals coming into their home or facility. Additionally, since viruses can hide in what appear to be healthy-looking animals even beyond typical quarantine periods, keepers may want to consider virus testing their animals.
Tests are available in kit form that can be performed at home and sent into a lab for analysis. These can detect some viruses including Nidovirus and Inclusion Body Disease. A few popular testing options are Fishhead Diagnostics and Research Associates Laboratory. Allegedly some facilities produce more accurate results than others; however, we do not yet have an official recommendation.