• Smaller and commercial breeders will have to meet a ‘strict welfare criteria’
  • Those breeding three or more litters a year will have to apply for a formal licence
  • Those who sell pets on the internet will be subject to the same licensing regulations
  • Breeders who break rules face an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison 

The extremely harsh practice of taking puppies under eight weeks old away from their mothers is to be made illegal in a government crackdown on ‘backstreet breeders’.

Law Change Announcement

The tougher rules have recently been announced by Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom.

Mrs Leadsom is reported to have said: ‘Everyone who owns a pet or is looking to introduce one into their life will want to know that the animal has had the very best start to life.

‘Yet for thousands of puppies born each year to irresponsible breeders, from smaller operations to larger puppy farms, their first weeks are spent in cramped and squalid conditions without the care and attention they need.

‘That is why we are cracking down on the worst offenders by strengthening the dog breeding licence and giving councils the power they need to take action.’

Kennel Club’s Response

Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko is said to have responded to the news by saying: ‘We are pleased that Defra will be taking forward proposals to ban the sale of puppies under the age of eight weeks by commercial third parties.

‘We have called for a ban on third party sales, and refuse to register puppies being sold to third parties, but this new rule is a step in the right direction.

‘We also welcome the requirement for pet sellers to provide written information about the animals they sell and for those who sell pets online to display their licence number.’

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Response

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee also welcome the Government’s move to bring in a tougher dog licensing regime but takes the view that it should have been tougher.

Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Committee, has said that ‘I am unhappy that the Government has not followed our suggestion to ban the third party sale of dogs, as I believe this would have had a large impact on the condition of dogs sold in the UK.

‘The Government’s own advice for a buyer to see a puppy with its mother is contradicted by the ability of third parties to sell puppies.

‘However, any tightening up of the sale of animals must be seen as a step in the right direction.

‘The Committee recommended that those trading pets commercially online needed to be properly licensed, with the license number displayed, and I welcome the Government’s action in this area.

‘While I welcome a new licensing regime for breeders, the Committee will be disappointed that the Government has decided to apply it to anyone breeding three litters or more.

‘The majority of animal charities we heard from advocated that anyone selling two litters or more per year should be licensed as a breeder.’

Therefore, although steps are now being taken to limit cruelty to animals there is still plenty of room for improvement if puppies are to be protected from unscrupulous breeders who farm puppies in conditions that contravene the Welfare Act.

Whilst it is still legal for third parties to sell puppies, there is no REAL protection in place. The Government’s own guidance advising that buyer’s should see a puppy with its mother is, quite clearly, contradicted by failing to change the law relating to third parties sellers.


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