Ban of third party sales of puppies and kittens known as Lucy’s Law confirmed Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash

The government has said that it will be banning third party sales of puppies and kittens

The ban, announced by Animal Welfare Minister David Rutley on 23 December 2018, will mean that anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten will either deal directly with the breeder or with one of the nation’s many animal rehoming centres.

During a visit to Battersea Cat and Dogs Home, Animal Welfare Minister David Rutley said:

“This ban on third party sales of puppies and kittens is part of our commitment to make sure the nation’s much-loved pets get the right start in life. I pay tribute to the Lucy’s Law campaign and the many stakeholders who have passionately campaigned for this ban.”

This decision was taken following a public consultation, from which there was over 95 per cent support for a ban. It builds on previous action under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals)(England) Regulations 2018. This includes banning the sale of puppies under eight weeks and tackling the breeding of dogs with genetic disorders.

These regulations came into force in October. At the launch the Animal Welfare Minister said:

“These regulations will end mistreatment and malpractice of puppies and crack down on unscrupulous breeders so pet owners will have no doubt their new dogs have had the right start in life.

“The licensing systems for businesses that work with animals have not been reformed for almost fifty years. The changes in place from today simplify these into one system for local authorities, help consumers to make better informed decisions and will further improve animal welfare.”

Lucy's Law also applies to kittens Photo by Q'AILA on Unsplash

The ban will be introduced in 2019

The ban will be enacted through secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 as soon as parliamentary time allows. It will help to crack down on puppy farms and make it much harder for high volume low welfare breeders, both licensed and unlicensed, whose trade relies on third party sellers.

These include the early separation of puppies and kittens from their mothers and the increased likelihood of long journeys that puppies or kittens have to undertake.

All of these can contribute to an increased risk of disease and a lack of socialisation for the puppies and kittens.

A Battersea spokesperson said:

“Battersea is very confident that a ban of the third party sale of puppies and kittens, aged under six months old, will become law.

“Battersea looks forward to seeing a ban on third party sales become law in the near future.”

The government will also continue to work with stakeholders on the issue of whether non-commercial rescue and rehoming centres will require a licence to operate.

A spokesperson for the Dogs Trust said:

“In addition to the introduction of licensing and inspections of rehoming organisations, we would like to see an urgent review of the Pet Travel Scheme.

“Abuse of the scheme has thus far allowed thousands of underage puppies to be smuggled into the UK – and harsher penalties for unscrupulous breeders and sellers who are currently undeterred by woefully inadequate penalties.”

The minister added:

“I urge anyone who is thinking of buying a puppy, or any pet, at this time of year to pause and think carefully before doing so.

“Pets become a part of our families and it is a decision that requires careful consideration and planning. It should not be undertaken on a whim or as a surprise.”