Defra’s changes to puppy trade laws don’t go far enough

Tougher regulations are needed to protect puppies

Last week, Defra announced some changes to animal establishment licensing in England.

With our PUPS campaign, we’ve been calling for better regulations to protect puppies – and people who purchase them – from dodgy breeders and sellers, so we were keen to hear what action the Government is taking.

The new regulations are a mixed bag. We’re pleased to learn that all licensed sellers will now have to display their licence number in advertisements, allowing the public to trace where their puppy has come from. We also welcome changes to legislation that previously allowed pet shops to buy underage puppies; now they can only buy puppies from breeders when they’re over 8 weeks old. The Government has also advised that anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year will have to apply for a licence and face inspections by their local council, as is currently the case in Wales.

But, with this consultation, the Government missed an opportunity to stamp out the cruel aspects of the puppy trade once and for all. We were disappointed to find that many of the EFRA Select Committee’s recommendations were ignored; principally, a ban on third-party sales, which would stop anyone selling a puppy without his or her mother present. This was despite widespread support for such a measure from many MPs, charities and the public.

Of course, we’ll carry on campaigning for measures that will end the suffering of countless puppies and dogs stuck on puppy farms and treated purely as commodities. Thank you to everyone who’s taken part in the campaign so far – we’ll get there in the end! #NoMumNoSale


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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters