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Legislation, Enforcement and Self-Regulation

On 1st October 2018, new regulations came into force to regulate breeding including:

  • Ensuring that breeders must show puppies alongside their mother before a sale is made.
  • Tightening regulations so that puppy sales are completed in the presence of the new owner – preventing online sales where prospective buyers have not seen the animal first.
  •  Banning licensed sellers from dealing in puppies and kittens under the age of eight weeks.
  • Regulating adverts, including on the internet, by ensuring licensed sellers of all pets include the seller’s licence number, country of origin and country of residence of the pet in any advert for sale.
  •  Introducing a new “star rating” for dog breeders, pet shops and others to help people rate them on their animal welfare standards.

From April 2020, the sale of puppies and kittens by pet shops and other commercial third-party sellers will be banned – unless they have bred the animals themselves. We have campaigned for years for this, as it is one of several effective ways of helping to end heartless puppy farming.

Sadly criminals will try to ignore the regulation and attempt to sell puppies often using the internet. Survey data, interviews and investigations reveal that puppy farmers and traders are just one part of a bigger problem. At each stage of the puppy selling cycle, different public bodies, industry participants and consumers enable this business model. Naturewatch Foundation strongly supports the Pet Advisory Advertising Group PAAG scheme to help regulate the sale of puppies over the internet.

Puppy farming is flourishing in the UK because many of establishments are not licensed, regulated and operate outside of the law. Responsibility for enforcing the dog breeding laws fall to local authorities many of which have overstretched resources.

Our investigation of licensing practices around the UK shows that different local authorities interpret their license conditions in different ways. We have written to local councils across the country asking them to openly publish information of licensed breeders in their area.

Raising and selling puppies for financial gain depends on food supplies, insurance, advertising and veterinary care. Throughout the breeding cycle, private manufacturers and service providers deliver the means to run a puppy farming business.

Finally, when licensing, supplies and the route to market have been addressed, puppy farmers still need one essential form of help – public support. Unknowingly, unintentionally, the buying public provides the final piece of the business cycle – finance. Paying cash for puppies without knowing how and where they were raised gives farmers and dealers the means and motive to breed litter after litter, safe in the knowledge that one of us will pay.