United Kingdom: Standing up for Puppies

The UK, as with many parts of Europe, suffers from a growing and unregulated puppy trade problem.

Pets bred and sold irresponsibly

A 2016 study into the number of dogs being sold in the UK and their origins suggested there were more than 400,000 unlicensed breeders in the UK - compared to the 70,000 licensed breeders and the 235,000 Kennel Club assured breeders.  An estimated 30,000 dogs come from mainland Europe every year, with an additional 30,000-40,000 from Ireland.

Puppies who are bred commercially are often taken away from their mother too early, which affects their development and leaves them susceptible to health and behavioural problems. They are often subjected to long journeys across borders or to pet stores to be sold. Online marketplaces are rife with puppies with unverifiable backgrounds and documentation, many of which have the potential to grow ill or have behavioural problems. The online puppy trade is making it harder to spot a good breeder from a bad breeder or seller. This is where the work must be done to protect humans and animals.

What we are doing about it

IFAW is taking a three-part approach to the puppy crisis in the UK; our aims are to reduce numbers of irresponsibly bred puppies by tightening UK borders, improve legislation to provide more licensed (and therefore regulated) breeders in the UK, and to encourage the public to rescue and adopt rather than buy online or from pet stores.  

Firstly, we are asking the Government to introduce new laws that protect dogs and their puppies in the UK. By amending the Animal Welfare Act 2006, we can improve regulations and enforcement to save dogs from this terrible abuse.  

Secondly, IFAW is partnering with online platforms where dogs are sold to find a way to better protect puppies from abuse. We have joined the Pets Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) and are working with other NGOs calling for change, in order to have a stronger voice for animals.

Thirdly, IFAW is working to educate the public about responsible pet buying choices. IFAW believes that once the general public possesses the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions on this issue, the demand for irresponsibly bred and sold puppies will naturally reduce.

Additionally, IFAW has provided financial support to a domestic abuse charity that helps women and children escape violent homes along with their pets.