New legislation to end puppy and kitten farming will be laid in Parliament today, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced.
Known as ‘Lucy’s Law’, it will mean that puppies and kitten can no longer be sold by a third-party seller – such as a pet shop or commercial dealer – unless they have bred the animals themselves.
Instead, anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten under six months must either deal directly with the breeder or an animal rehoming centre.
The law is named after Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who died in 2016 after being subjected to terrible conditions on a Welsh puppy far.
Dogs like Lucy are often kept by breeders to produce multiple litters of puppies, which are taken from their mothers at just a few weeks’ old and advertised online or sold in pet shops.
The practice causes lifelong socialisation issues for the puppy or kitten, as well as a number of preventable diseases. Today’s legislation will ensure that puppies and kittens are born and reared in a safe environment, with their mother, and sold from their place of birth.
The ban will also deter puppy smugglers who abuse the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) by bringing underage puppies into the UK, which are then sold on for financial gain.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “This is about giving our animals the best possible start in life and making sure that no other animal suffers the same fate as Lucy. It will put an end to the early separation of puppies and kitten from their mothers, as well as the terrible conditions in which some of these animals are bred.
“This is all part of our plan to make this country the best place in the world for the protection and care of animals.”
Marc Abraham, Lucy’s Law campaigner and founder of Pup Aid, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Lucy’s Law is now being laid in Parliament and will come into effect from April 2020. For years irresponsible breeders in the UK and abroad, so-called puppy farmers, have depended on commercial third-party sellers – e.g. dealers and pet shops – to keep their breeding dogs and puppies in horrific conditions hidden from the public.”
Claire Horton, Chief Executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home welcomed the announcement to put a stop to puppy and kitten farming.
Claire said: “Each year thousands of puppies are bred in terrible conditions and then sold for large sums of money to unsuspecting members of the public. A lot of these young pups will be sickly and under-socialised, leading to high vet bills and behavioural issues that a lot of new owners are sadly not able to deal with.
“Once these new regulations are approved, owners will have far greater reassurance that their new pet is happy and healthy, whether they buy from a responsible breeder or from a rescue centre such as Battersea.”
The decision to ban commercial third-party sales was announced in December 2016 and follows years of high-profile campaigning by animal welfare organisations. It was taken following a public consultation where there was over 95% support for the ban.
Last week the animal welfare Minster, David Rutley visited the Mayhew Animal Home in North London, a charity that rehomes puppies and kitten and which supports Lucy’s Law.
CEO of Mayhew, Caroline Yates, said: “Mayhew is very pleased to hear that Lucy’s Law has now been laid in Parliament. We have long supported the call to ban third party puppy and kitten sales; and were delighted that such legislation will come into force next year and make a different to the lives of countless animals.
“We hope this legislation will also encourage potential pet owners to first think about visiting their local rehoming shelters when searching for a puppy or dog, cat or kitten to adopt into their families.”
The legislation will come into force on 6 April 2020, giving industry and consumers time to prepare for the change.