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Pet shop puppy ban – new rules to stop shops selling puppies and kittens

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Feb 8, 2018

A ban on puppy and kitten sales by pet shops is being planned by the government.

The new rules, which are currently being discussed, would apply to all pet stores in England.

They mean that anyone wanting to own a puppy or kitten under eight weeks old would have to deal direct with the breeder or a rescue centre.

Breeders and sellers would all have to be licensed by the government. Unlicensed selling would be illegal.


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The Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced the plan as part of a package targeted at raising animal welfare standards.

New tighter regulations for dog breeders are already due to come into force this year.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the plan would be examined as part of a new package of measures aimed at driving up welfare standards.

Enhanced licensing conditions for breeders are already due to come into force this year.

Puppies for sale will also have to be shown with their mother before a sale can be made.

Completing sales online will also be banned as all purchase will have to be completed in the presence of the new owner.

Cruel puppy trade

Last year, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said a ban on third-party sales could lead to the creation of an illegal market.

But the Dogs Trust welcomed the government's latest plans, which are now open for public consultation.

Anyone can offer their views as evidence by contacting:

[email protected] by 2 May 2018. Or you can write to: Animal Welfare Team Area 5B Nobel House 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR.

Paula Boyden, veterinary director for the Dogs Trust said: "If a ban was introduced now, puppy farmers could exploit loopholes such as setting themselves up as unregulated re-homing centres or sanctuaries.

"Licensing and inspection of dog breeders and sellers must also be stronger to ensure that everyone involved in the trade is on the radar of local authorities."

RSPCA deputy chief executive Chris Wainwright said: "We have always said that an end to third party sales alone would not be enough to end the puppy trade crisis, and we are pleased that this is being looked at alongside enhanced licensing conditions for breeders."

Here are the government proposals in full:

  • Require all licensed dog breeders and licensed sellers of all pet animals, including sellers who are not also breeders, to adhere to enhanced strict statutory minimum welfare standards linked to the animals’ welfare needs set out in the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
  • Prohibit the sale of puppies, kittens, ferrets or rabbits below eight weeks of age. This is also supported by changes to Defra’s statutory Dog Welfare Code which provides guidance aimed at dog owners. 
  • Require any licensed pet seller advertising pets for sale to include their licence number in the advert as well as identifying the local authority that issued it, a photo of the pet, its age, country of residence and country of origin. This will help people identify pets offered for sale from unlicensed sellers including those based abroad.
  • Require the sale of a dog to be completed in the presence of the purchaser on the premises where the licensed seller or licensed breeder has been keeping the dog, thereby banning online sales by licensed sellers and breeders.
  • Ensure licensed dog breeders must show puppies alongside their mother before a sale is made and only sell puppies they have bred themselves.

These reforms should address the majority of current concerns about pet sales and breeding.

They will also enable local authorities to better target their enforcement effort by adopting a more risk-based approach to regulation; lower risk and high performing operators will be allowed a longer licence, fewer inspections and a lower licence fee.


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