Today Government bans third-party sales in bid to crackdown on illegal puppy farms in the UK

RSPCA welcomes Lucy’s Law as charity reveals it investigated almost 30,000 puppy trade complaints over the last decade.

Today (Monday 6 April) marks the day that the UK government bans commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens in England. The RSPCA reveals that it has looked into almost 30,000 complaints about the illegal puppy trade in the last 10 years.

The charity welcomes the ban on third-party sales- known as Lucy’s Law – meaning that all dogs must now be bought from the breeder, or from a reputable rescue organisation.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “Over the last decade, RSPCA staff have dealt with almost 30,000 complaints relating to the illegal puppy trade. Our rescuers have saved dogs from unimaginable cruelty and hideous conditions; our vets have tried desperately to save the lives of tiny puppies riddled with worms and plagued by health and behaviour problems; and our carers have nursed dogs back to health, teaching them to trust people again, and showing them love for the first time.

We’re incredibly pleased that the UK government is today introducing a ban on third-party sales of puppies and kittens in England. We believe that this, along with tougher licensing regulations that were introduced in 2018 and better education of the public on how to buy puppies responsibly, will help to crackdown on this cruel trade.

“We hope these laws will be properly enforced so that all dogs who are used for breeding and selling will live happy, healthy lives where their welfare is prioritised above profits.”

The RSPCA has been working to tackle the puppy trade for years with officers investigating complaints about puppy farms, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs and prosecuting criminal gangs – some of whom have been making tens of thousands of pounds a week selling puppies to unsuspecting members of the public.

But the charity is concerned that many dogs and puppies will be stuck in puppy farms suffering in silence or could be abandoned by unscrupulous dealers when they fail to sell due to Covid-19 lockdown.

David Bowles, head of the RSPCA’s public affairs team, said: “We’re thrilled that third-party sales have now been banned and hope this will make a real difference to this unscrupulous, underground trade. We now need this law to be effectively enforced by local authorities who have a duty to enforce this new law alongside existing tougher licensing regulations which were introduced in October 2018 to ensure that the very best welfare conditions for dogs used for breeding and selling.

“We do have concerns, however, that the Covid-19 lockdown will have a huge impact on animal welfare in this area – and that many puppies who have been bred to sell in time for the summer boom will be left languishing and suffering in silence in terrible conditions on puppy farms, or will be abandoned and left to fend for themselves.”

RSPCA top tips for buying a happy, healthy dog

Please bear in mind that getting a puppy at this time – during the Covid-19 lockdown – is highly unlikely due to the restrictions on movement. It’s also important to consider whether you could care for a dog once the lockdown is lifted.

Here are some tips for buying a dog once these extraordinary measures are lifted:

  • Always consider giving a rescue pet a new home instead of buying: www.rspca.org.uk/findapet;
  • Do lots of research and ensure you can commit to a dog before getting one;
  • Ask the breeder lots of questions, visit the puppy multiple times and ask to see paperwork (licensing, health checks, vaccination records etc);
  • See the pup’s mum and watch her interacting with the litter;
  • Never pay cash and if anything concerns you then do not hand over any money or buy a puppy, walk away and contact the RSPCA, local council or police.