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.
Naturewatch Foundation is now awaiting government action to implement the DEFRA consultation to ban commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens. 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 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 these establishments are left largely unregulated through lack of enforcement. The law (The Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999) does require basic standards of care for breeding and selling puppies, but responsibility for enforcing the law falls to local authorities.
Our investigation of licensing practices around the UK shows that different local authorities interpret their license conditions in different ways and that even when breaches of the license are found on inspection, little or no action is taken. This is because Councils have no statutory duty to enforce the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act and different versions of Model Guidelines for dog breeders and pet shops are being applied. At the same time, inspecting officers may have little or no training or knowledge relating to animal husbandry in general or specific species’ requirements in particular.
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 provide 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.