6 quotes from politicians that give us hope for action against puppy farms in 2018

Will 2018 be the year the government ban third party sales of puppies through places such as pet shops? We certainly hope so.

Here are some recent quotes from five MPs which suggest that politicians are finally starting to take this issue seriously – and give us hope that change could be coming.

1.     “The third-party licensed pet shop market depends on and sustains low welfare breeding” – Sue Hayman MP

Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary has made it clear that she understands  the intrinsic link between third-party sales and sick, unhappy puppies.

“International studies have found that puppies obtained from pet shops are more likely to be aggressive towards people, fearful, prone to separation anxiety, and infected with parasites and pathogens to a significant level. Behavioural problems are the most common cause of euthanasia in dogs under two years old, with the most common cause of fear and aggression being a lack of socialisation during the critical period up to 16 weeks old. Responsible breeders, by definition, will not sell puppies through third parties.

The third-party licensed pet shop market depends on and sustains low welfare breeding. As long as there is a market for cheap, intensively bred puppies, welfare problems will persist because the incentives for non-compliance far exceed the potential penalties.”

2.      “By allowing third-party sales, the Government are contradicting their own advice” – Neil Parish MP

The Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, which last year published a report which recommended banning third party sales of puppies, had this to say in a debate last year:

“By allowing third-party sales, the Government are contradicting their own advice. They advise buyers to ensure that they see the puppy with its mother, yet buying from a third-party seller does not allow this. By banning third-party sales, the public would have to buy directly from breeders. This would allow buyers to assess the premises for themselves, which would drive up animal welfare standards.”

3.     “The sale of puppies on the high street fosters puppy farming and puppy trafficking.” – Dr Lisa Cameron MP

The SNP spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which includes animal welfare, explained clearly why she doesn’t agree with third-party puppy sales:

“The high street is not the place to buy a puppy. The sale of puppies on the high street fosters puppy farming and puppy trafficking. It also leads to impulse purchases by people whose household may not be best suited to the dog, nor the dog best suited to the household. That is a poor start for all involved.”

4.     “They just could not be dogs.” – Chris Davies MP

This Conservative MP opened up about changing his opinion after visiting a puppy farm in Wales in 2016:

“There must have been 60 to 80 dogs when we looked around that puppy farm. They were all in tiny enclosures with 3 feet high walls, so they could not see out or see their neighbours. They could not be dogs. It was quite distressing because, although I could not look back and say that they were skinny, maltreated or in danger of needing relief and veterinary care, they just could not be dogs. Having had dogs all my life, I found that very disturbing and that visit made me change my mind.”

5.     “[Licensing and microchipping alone] will not stop the cruel puppy trade.” – Jim Shannon MP

This Northern Ireland MP was moved by correspondence from his constituents to encourage the Minister to reconsider a third party ban:

“The recently published plans to improve the licensing of animal breeding establishments are most welcome, but it is disheartening that it appears that, despite the calls from the EFRA Committee and numerous leading charities, a ban on third-party puppy sales is not being implemented. …  It is clear that while licensing and microchipping are necessary and good, that in itself will not address the problem of the puppy trade. In the words of my constituents,

“it will not stop the cruel puppy trade.”

6.     “It’s absolutely right we do everything we can to eradicate animal cruelty from our society.” – Prime Minister Theresa May

Most excitingly it even looks like the government might be listening too! At the end of the year the Prime Minister and the Defra Secretary both made a commitment to tackle poor welfare in the puppy trade. We’re looking forward to hearing more details about their proposals to tighten up the laws around the puppy trade. Here's what she said at the time:

Any unscrupulous treatment of animals is disturbing so in our drive to achieve the highest animal welfare standards in the world, we continually look at what more can be done. The arrival of a happy, healthy puppy, as I know myself, is a memorable time for a family but its absolutely right we do everything we can to eradicate animal cruelty from our society. The proposals my government is developing will be an important step forward.”

Thousands of you have taken part in our PUPS campaign and contacted your MPs calling for action to end third-party puppy sales – thank you. As you can see, your actions have made a difference and many of our elected representatives are now taking notice. Read more about the campaign here, and see our advice for making sure you don’t accidentally buy a puppy from a puppy farm.

But we won’t stop working hard on this until we actually see a change in the law. We’re proud to support the recent #LucysLaw initiative, launched in memory of rescue cavalier Lucy who had been forced to churn our litter after litter of puppies by unscrupulous breeders before being rescued. Making it illegal to sell puppies in situations where the mother isn’t present – for example, at a pet shop, or via an online ad – would help prevent more dogs suffering as Lucy did.

Stay tuned for more updates on how you can get involved!

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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