Government crackdown on illegal breeders and smugglers


Puppy farm

We welcome plans announced by the Government today to crack down on dog breeders in England who put profits ahead of the health and welfare of the animals.

Defra has today announced proposals to tighten regulations around the breeding and selling of puppies in England. A move which it’s hoped will help eradicate the underground, illegal puppy trade which is worth millions of pounds a year. It’s the biggest change in pet vending for 66 years.

New proposals include

The Government has announced that it is developing proposals, including:

  • Ensuring that licensed dog breeders must show puppies alongside their mother before a sale is made
  • Tightening regulations so that puppy sales are completed in the presence of the new owner – preventing online sales where prospective buyers have not seen the animal first and only allowing sales of puppies from the premises
  • Insisting licensed dog breeders can only sell puppies they have bred themselves
  • Regulating adverts, including on the internet, by ensuring licensed sellers of all pets, including puppies, include the seller’s licence number, country of origin and country of residence of the pet in any advert for sale.

We welcome this news

Our interim chief executive Michael Ward welcomed the announcement:

This is good news for the hundreds of thousands of dogs bought and sold in England every year.

This year our inspectors, working with the police and councils, rescued hundreds of puppies and breeding dogs being kept in miserable, squalid conditions by heartless people cashing in on the growing market for puppies.

We hope these proposed licensing conditions for England, which include a ban on breeders selling puppies other than from their licensed premises, will improve the welfare of puppies and their parents and also crackdown on the multi-million pound illegal trade making it less likely that people are duped by rogue dealers.

We also welcome moves to stop the illegal smuggling of puppies which is a vile trade resulting in the suffering and death of countless dogs.

We’re also opposed to third party sales of puppies and hope these new measures will go some way to achieving that goal.

Under the new rules puppies bred by licensed breeders will have better protection under law. Anyone selling a puppy, including online, will need to get a licence and display that licence number; and buyers will need to see the puppy with the mother at the place it was bred before being able to complete a purchase.

Rising puppy trade statistics

This news comes as we reveal that we rescued 295 dogs from puppy farms and unscrupulous breeders in 2017 (up to 20 December) – bringing the total number of dogs rescued since 2013 up to 1,749.

We've seen our busiest year yet investigating complaints relating to the puppy trade with 4,125 calls in total in England. That’s an 11.8% increase compared to last year.

Going forward

The Government has also confirmed that it will be taking forward the recommendations made by Defra earlier this year in respect of the consultation on the breeding and selling of animals in England.

We’re hopeful that this set of new regulations and licensing conditions will better protect the welfare of dogs and puppies, and help keep people safe from falling victim to these unscrupulous sellers.

Responsible puppy buying

We always encourage people to consider rehoming a rescue dog, and encourage anyone thinking of taking on a dog to search for rescue dogs near them on our Find A Pet pages.

For those who want to buy a puppy, we urge them to download the free Puppy Contract to help ensure they buy a happy and healthy dog.

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