Why the Third Party Sale of Puppies has to end

Why the Third Party Sale of Puppies has to end

At the end of 2018 the Government announced that it would introduce a ban on the third party sale of puppies and kittens. So what is the third party sale of pets, why is it a problem, and when can we expect to see a change in the law?

The third party sale of animals is when someone buys a dog or cat from an establishment such as a pet shop or via the internet, without seeing it with it parents and without the buyer knowing where the animal has come from. This means that animals can be bred in appalling conditions on puppy farms and then sold on to a pet shop or another buyer and finally to consumers. There are also many cases of puppy farmed animals being brought in from abroad and sold on. These animals are often sick, underage and the welfare of their parents cannot be guaranteed.

IFAW has been campaigning on this issue for a number of years. Our PUPS campaign has provided ‘buyer beware’ advice on what to look for when buying a puppy. If you are thinking of buying a new dog, IFAW always advocates that the best thing to do is adopt a dog in need of a forever home from your local rescue or shelter. For those with their heart set on a specific breed they can’t find from a rescue, please research carefully to avoid buying from a puppy farm or disreputable breeder.

We have been working closely with politicians from across the political spectrum to push for a ban on the third party sale of puppies, which would be a big step towards seeing all puppies sold in the presence of their mother, as well as improving welfare conditions. We also hope this will stop the import of thousands of puppies bred in appalling conditions and suffering greatly in transit. 

IFAW has been supporting the great work of the Lucy’s Law campaign, set up in memory of a dog called Lucy who was used as a breeder on a puppy farm where she was kept in shocking conditions. Sadly, Lucy passed away three years after being rescued but her legacy lives on.

So, where are we now? Well, the Government announced last year that it would bring forth a Bill to ban the sale of puppies and kittens. This year it was announced this Bill would be brought to Parliament ‘as soon as parliamentary time allows’. Obviously, there have been a few other priorities in Parliament in recent months…which may be why there has been a delay. However, the parliamentary session ends in June so the Government must work to bring this Bill forward as soon as possible.


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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