It’s hi-fives all around for furry paws, as 2019 sees a brand, spanking new government law coming into effect, introducing a ban on any pet shop puppy sale. The announcement of this law came bounding in at an extremely relevant time of year, with animal welfare minister David Rutley making the declaration in December 2018 during a visit to famed animal rescue centre, Battersea Cat and Dogs Home.
Announcing this law around the time of any potential Christmas pet purchases, he said “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.”
Further cracking down on the presence of puppy farms, this new pet shop ban follows on from previous legislation that came into effect in 2018, which now requires any puppy seller to showcase a pup in the presence of its mother before any buyer can make a sale. As to when this new pet shop puppy ban will be officially introduced, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Defra said this will be “when parliamentary time allows” at some time in 2019.
So, what’s the reasoning behind this new law?
It’s all to do with Cavalier King Charles pup, Lucy captured in the video which sparked the movement of the Lucy’s Law Campaign, This campaign began when a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lucy was rescued after poor treatment in the puppy farming system.
Subjected to abhorrent conditions within the Welsh puppy farm, and at just five years old, Lucy was rescued from the cruel conditions of this farm in 2013 where it quickly became clear just what suffering she had endured. Due to the cramped conditions of Lucy’s cage, her health problems ranged from bald patches of fur and epilepsy to a curved spine, all of which sadly contributed to her death in 2016.
But her passing wasn’t in vain. After Lucy’s death, a petition was set in motion by celebrity vet Marc Abraham, eventually signed by a huge number of 150,000 people. It included the support of many famous faces such as Dragon’s Den Deborah Meaden, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and well-known dog lover Paul O’Grady. As the loving owner of five dogs, he stated “I’m not hardened to it, each case sickens me,” adding “you can always tell a female dog that’s been overbred, the teats are on the floor, the vets can tell when they’ve had too many litters.”
Lucy’s Law was debated in Parliament in May 2018 and after a public consultation carried out by Defra back in July 2018, which saw a whopping 95 per cent of the public support the ban’s proposal, the decision was made to implement it.
In the consultation, key issues relating to animal welfare were raised, with “concerns that commercial third-party sales lead to poorer welfare conditions for the animals compared to when people buy directly from the breeder.”
This included the early separation of puppies and kittens from their mothers, the introduction to new and unfamiliar environments, and the increased likelihood of multiple journeys the puppies or kittens have to undertake. Defra added that “all of these can contribute to an increased risk of disease and a lack of socialisation and habituation for the puppies and kittens.”
What does this new law mean for potential puppy buyers?
Those who wish to welcome a fluffy four-legged companion into the family will still be able to do so, but what it will ensure that any third party sales of dog or indeed a cat that is less than six months old does not take place. Any sales of young pups and kittens will need to be carried out directly with the animal’s breeder or by making use of an authorised UK centre committed to finding new homes for animals.
Breeders will need to ensure they keep in line with this new law and will only be able to sell puppies they’ve bred themselves. To further comply with these rules, they will also need a licence if they wish to sell three or more litters within a year. And for any online sales of kittens and puppies, sellers will need to ensure to provide not only their license number but the correct information relating to both the animals country of origin and their residence.
Further reiterating the importance of compassionate choice when it comes to picking up a new bundle of fluff, David Rutley also added “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. That is why we promote responsible pet ownership in our welfare codes and I urge fellow animal lovers to consider the idea of rehoming a dog from the many wonderful organisations across the country.”