Pet shops face puppy sales ban to protect dogs

8 February 2018, 04:45

Pets shops could be banned from selling puppies to stop dogs being exploited.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove says the Government will look at a ban as part of a package to drive up welfare standards.

Breeders will face enhanced licensing conditions later this year as part of the move.

Mr Gove said a ban on puppy sales by pet shops and other third-party dealers would mean anyone buying or adopting a dog would only be allowed to deal directly with the breeder or an animal rehousing centre.

The ban has so far not come in after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) concluded a ban on third-party sales would lead to the creation of an illegal market following evidence from Dogs Trust and Blue Cross.

As long as further safeguarding is put in place, dog charities have welcomed Mr Gove considering a ban.

It would aim to stop puppies being taken from their mothers too early, being sold to unsuitable homes or being bred so they are unhealthy or have genetic disorders.

Third-party sellers include anyone selling puppies which they have not bred themselves, such as puppy importers, online sellers and puppy dealers, as by law they must hold a pet shop licence.

Paula Boyden, veterinary director for the Dogs Trust, said: "We are delighted that the Government is exploring a ban on third-party puppy sales and implore them to fast-track crucial steps before a ban is implemented.

"If a ban was introduced now, puppy farmers could exploit loopholes such as setting themselves up as unregulated rehoming centres or sanctuaries.

"Licensing and inspection of dog breeders and sellers must also be stronger to ensure that everyone involved in the trade is on the radar of local authorities.

"The Government must tackle these loopholes now, so we can be confident a ban will be the success we all want to see."

Mr Gove said: "We need to do everything we can to make sure the nation's much-loved pets get the right start in life.

"From banning the sale of underage puppies to tackling the breeding of dogs with severe genetic disorders, we are cracking down on sellers who have a total disregard for their dogs' welfare."

Under new rules to take effect later this year, anyone who breeds or sells dogs must be licensed and will be banned from selling puppies and kittens under eight weeks old.

They must also show puppies alongside their mother before a sale is made, and sales must be completed in the presence of the new owner in order to prevent online sales where prospective buyers have not seen the animal first.

Defra's call for evidence on the ban on third-party sales of puppies closes on May 2.