Huge step forward for puppy welfare as third party sales ban proposed

This morning saw some fantastic news for dogs and cats sold in England. The Government has just announced a raft of measures designed to tighten up the rules around dog and cat breeding and selling, and are even gathering evidence on the need for a third party seller ban!



This is a huge step forward for animal welfare, and a victory for everyone who’s been working hard to get better protection for puppies.

We’ve been campaigning for years to see an end to third party puppy sales. Third party sellers are establishments such as pet shops who can sell a puppy without showing where it was bred or who is its mother. Third party sales mean that animals bred in shocking conditions on puppy farms can be taken elsewhere and sold to unknowing buyers – who would never willingly choose to support these cruel establishments.

Through our PUPS campaign we’ve been dishing out ‘buyer beware’ advice, telling you what to check for before you decide to buy a puppy. A third party sales ban, combined with the other measures proposed today, would go one step further and ensure that buyers have to visit a puppy at home first, with its mother, before agreeing to a purchase. This would also discourage people from impulse buying pets, for example via online ads, and then abandoning them once they realise how much hard work and expense is involved in looking after a dog.

We’ve also recently been supporting the Lucy’s Law campaign for a ban on third party sales, set up in memory of Lucy the Rescue Cavalier who was used as a breeder on a puppy farm. Sadly there are hundreds of dogs like Lucy out there, kept in dirty, cramped conditions and forced to churn out litter after litter of puppies. These puppy farm Mums are often the forgotten victims of this trade: most die young with multiple health and socialisation problems, and many go blind as a result of their mistreatment. It’s sickening to see what this trade does to ‘man’s best friend’, and any measure that makes members of the public aware of where that cute puppy they saw online really comes from, will only help in our quest to prevent more dogs suffering as Lucy did. 

Today’s announcement is a departure from what the government has previously said. Only last year Defra was responding negatively to calls for a third party ban made by the influential EFRA select committee, led by Neil Parish MP. Back then, the minister, Lord Gardiner, refused to consider a ban, disappointing us and the MPs involved in the recommendations. It’s really positive to see the department revisit the issue with more of an open mind. It’s all down to passionate, animal lovers like our supporters who have been determined in calling for change. Thank you!

So what next? We’ll be responding to the Government’s call for evidence and carefully following the progress of the other measures announced today which, together, should help hundreds of puppies and kittens across England. We’ll let you know how you can help and keep you informed every step of the way. Today is a victory for campaigners, but we still have much work to do to ensure this announcement actually translates to real action to end third party puppy sales and give puppies in this country the protection that they so desperately need.


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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