New Laws Tackle “Backstreet” Puppy Breeders

New laws to clamp down on “backstreet breeders” and prevent the sale of newborn puppies have been announced by the government.

And ministers are warning that anyone who flouts the tough legislation could be hit with an unlimited fine as well as a maximum six-month jail sentence

It will be against the law for puppies aged less than eight weeks old to be sold and a licence will be required to breed three litters or more within a 12-month period.

The move is part of a raft of reforms that the government hopes will improve welfare for thousands of animals in this country. It says they will discourage rogue breeders who fail to vaccinate puppies adequately.

A new “animal activities” licence will be brought in for riding stables, pet shops and boarding houses as well as anyone who trades in pets on the internet. Pet shops will have to hand out documentation when they sell an animal detailing what the new owner should do to ensure its welfare.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom says the new laws will empower councils to crack down on offenders.

“Everyone who owns a pet or is looking to introduce one into their life will want to know that the animal has had the very best start to life,” she said. “Yet for thousands of puppies born each year to irresponsible breeders, from smaller operations to larger puppy farms, their first weeks are spent in cramped and squalid conditions without the care and attention they need.

“With more and more pet sales now taking place on the internet, it’s right that this market is subject to the same strict licensing criteria as other breeders and pet shops so that consumers are not misled.

“The plans announced today will help people choosing new family pets to be confident the animals have been properly bred and cared for from birth and are ready to move safely to their new homes.”

Dogs Trust, the UK’s biggest canine welfare charity, believes the new rules will make a big difference.

“We are particularly pleased that it will be illegal to sell a puppy below the age of eight weeks and that there will be tighter licensing rules which will require sellers of pets to display their licence when advertising,” said Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden.

“We also applaud the move towards a risk based single licensing system which will incorporate those breeders that have gained UKAS approval rather than exempting them.

“We believe that Local Authority Inspectors need support to enforce these tighter licensing rules. As such, moves to mandate the use of Model Conditions and for inspectors to be offered training and standards to be set is most welcome.”

Caroline Kisko, of the Kennel Club, described the move as a “step in the right direction”.

Meanwhile, the government has revealed that 94 per cent of dogs now carry microchips with their owner’s particulars on, as has been required by the law for the last nine months. However, some research suggests that up to one in five chips now contain out of date details.

“It is absolutely critical that owners not only make sure their pet is microchipped, but that they also make sure details are kept up to date so they can be reunited if their pet is lost or stolen,” said Ms Leadsom.

“It is excellent to see that so many owners have taken action to get their dogs chipped, yet all too many still need to be re-homed because the owner hasn’t updated their details—heartbreaking for the owner and the dog and easily avoidable with a five-minute phone call.”

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