Yesterday saw a massive victory for animal rights campaigners and lovers across the UK as moves to ban third party sales of puppies and kittens finally saw a go ahead.
Under new Government plans, sales of puppies and kittens in pet shops and by third party dealers will be banned, meaning that those wanting to buy or adopt will need to go direct to reputable breeders or rescue centres. And as from 1 October this year, it will become illegal to sell puppies or kittens under the age of eight weeks.
SO WHAT JUST HAPPENED NOW?
Environment secretary Michael Gove announced that a ban on third-party puppy and kitten sales in England is coming. This will mean buyers will have to deal directly with the breeder or rehoming centre, effectively preventing the sale of puppies and kittens in traditional pet shops and making it much harder for unscrupulous breeders (farmers) to continue their cruel trade.
Breeders will only be able to sell puppies they have personally bred; and online sellers will have to publish their licence numbers as well as adhering to further controls, making their practices much more trackable. It’s a huge leap forward in the campaign to end puppy and kitten farming.
WHAT EXACTLY IS PUPPY FARMING?
Puppy – and kitten – farming is a harsh method of breeding on a mass scale with little or no regard for the health or welfare of the babies or their parents, all in the name of profit. Farmers generally fail to adhere to guidelines, such as keeping the pup or kitten with its mother until it’s at least eight weeks old, or how many litters a mum can have or ensuring basic socialization. Some mothers are forced into repeated pregnancies until they physically cannot have any more litters, they are then either killed or dumped in a shelter. They’re usually kept in cramped cages. It’s no fun.
Farmers also tend to ignore rudimentary health requirements such as grooming, worming and immunization which means the puppies and kittens do not know how to behave around people, can be scared, anxious and claustrophobic, vulnerable to common diseases that they should be safe from, can get painful chronic inherited conditions and thus have a much shorter life span; many farmed animals die weeks after being bought.
TELL US ABOUT MARC ABRAHAM AND PUP AID
Sussex vet Marc Abraham, also commonly known as Marc the Vet, is a practicing veterinary surgeon, author and animal welfare campaigner from Brighton. Aside from appearing on TV countless times, writing thousands of articles, engaging in public speaking, writing books, making documentaries and raising awareness, Marc is a leading campaigner against puppy farming and is the founder of the organization Pup Aid, which has huge support. He has put his whole life and passion into trying to give dogs and other animals a better life.
Over the last few years he has been working with many others to try and bring a new law into motion that bans third party sales of puppies, it is called Lucy’s Law.
Lucy’s Law is named after a Cavalier Spaniel who was rescued from a puppy farm. She was malnourished and unwell, and had been forced to have several litters, taken away from her at around four weeks old, half the recommended age. The #lucyslaw movement serves to highlight the issues around cruel ‘farming’ methods and Lucy has become a mascot for the movement. She has since sadly passed away but her legacy is huge…
Of yesterday’s victory Marc says: “By banning third-party sellers, Lucy’s Law will ensure all breeders are accountable, making it the first major step in tackling puppy farm cruelty.”
Lucy’s Law backs demands that will mean…
- Pet shops and dealers will no longer be allowed to sell puppies, they will have to be bought directly from the breeder
- Buyers will have to see the puppies with their mothers, which is always the way to go when buying a young puppy or kitten (see also #wheresmum)
- This will reduce impulse buying of puppies as potential owners will have to go directly to the source, and buy more responsibly
- There should be an improvement in welfare conditions as all breeding establishments will be open to public scrutiny
- The demand for responsibly bred puppies and rescue puppies will increase
WHAT CAN WE DO?
There’s a long way to go yet, and there will of course be loopholes, even once government restrictions are in place. Lucy’s Law is a cracking start but there will always be people selling pups online, for example. So if you’re looking for a puppy or kitten, here’s some advice…
- Make sure you see it interacting with its mum. See the #WheresMum campaign
- It’s from an assured, licensed breeder
- Please consider adopting from a charity or rescue centre… this is the most helpful thing to do as there are so many adoptable animals out there crying out for a loving home
- Tweet a photo of your pet supporting Lucy’s Law using the hashtag #LucysLaw
- Refuse and expose
Be suspicious if:
- You’re told the mum isn’t there, i.e sick, at the vets, died in birth etc
- The price is very cheap (£100-£350) or very high (£2,000-£7,000)
- The puppy is being sold in a pet shop, online, garden centre, in a pub, out the back of a van etc. Buying one ‘on the cheap’ is likely to be bankrolling poor breeding environments