A law banning puppy and kitten farming, which campaigners hope will end the practice by some unscrupulous breeders of keeping animals constantly pregnant and often in dirty and cramped conditions, is to be laid by the government.
More than 95% of responses to the government’s public consultation expressed support for a ban.
The change, expected to come into force in April 2020, will mean young cats and dogs can no longer be sold by a pet shop or commercial dealer unless they have bred them.
Would-be pet owners will need to deal directly with breeders or rehoming centres, though some campaigners have called for the law, to be laid on Monday, to go further and clamp down on the practices of animal sanctuaries.
The decision to ban commercial third-party sales was announced in December and follows years of campaigning. More than 95% of responses to the government’s public consultation expressed support for a ban.
The legislation will come into force on 6 April 2020, which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said would give the pet industry and consumers time to prepare for the change.
In October 2018 Defra introduced the Animal Welfare (Activities Involving Animals) Regulations 2018. The Regulations introduced new licensing procedures for selling of pets, boarding for cats and dogs, hiring of horses, breeding of dogs and keeping or training animals for exhibition. In February 2018 a call for evidence was launched and this was followed by a four week consultation in August 2018 on plans to introduce a ban on the commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens in England.The consultation also sought views on the licensing of rehoming and rescue centres to avoid current third party sellers claiming exemption to any possible ban.
On 23 December Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] confirmed it will be banning the third party sales of puppies and kittens in England.
During 2018 DAERA reviewed the matter of animal establishments in Northern Ireland, including establishments that sell pets. In 2019, DAERA intends to engage with stakeholders to obtain their views on the future licensing system in Northern Ireland.
In September 2018 the Scottish Government launched a consultation to seek views on proposals to introduce new regulations for the licensing of dog, cat and rabbit breeding activities in Scotland.
The consultation considered how thresholds for licensing may be determined depending on the size of the undertaking and how this may work for organisations with multiple premises.
Commercial third-party sales may be associated with poorer welfare conditions for the animals compared to buying directly from the breeder.
For example, the introduction to several unfamiliar environments and likelihood of multiple journeys may contribute to an increased risk of disease and a lack of socialisation and habituation.
We are consulting on whether a change of policy and/or the law would improve the welfare of puppies and kittens when being sold.
There are concerns that commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens may be associated with poorer welfare conditions for the animals compared to when people buy directly from the breeder. For example, the introduction to several new and unfamiliar environments and the increased likelihood of multiple journeys the puppies or kittens have to undertake. All of these have the potential to contribute to an increased risk of disease and a lack of socialisation and habituation for the puppies and kittens.
The Welsh Government wishes to consider whether or not a change of policy and/or the law in Wales would better protect the welfare of puppies and kittens when being sold.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ISSUES?
High standards of animal welfare are a priority of the Welsh Government. The Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework1 sets out our plan for continuing and lasting improvements in standards of animal health and welfare for kept animals.
Currently, puppies and kittens can either be purchased directly from a breeder (licensed or unlicensed depending on the number of breeding bitches at the premises), via a third-party seller, or from a rescue/rehoming centre. There are no national records of the number of puppies and kittens sold via third-parties.
Commercial third-party sellers are those who are licensed pet sellers; In Wales they will hold a licence under the Pet Animals Act 1951.
There are concerns commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens may be associated with poorer welfare conditions for the animals compared with direct purchase from the breeder. For example, the introduction to several new and unfamiliar environments, and the increased likelihood of multiple journeys the puppies or kittens have to undertake have the potential to contribute to an increased risk of disease and a lack of socialisation and habituation for the puppies or kittens.
On 19 June 2018 the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, delivered an Oral Statement announcing her commitment to explore options of banning commercial third party sales of puppies and kittens in Wales. On 5 November 2018 the Cabinet Secretary announced a consultation would be launched to gather information on the supply chain and establish where government intervention would have the greatest impact.
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
The introduction of the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs)(Wales) Regulations 2014 led the way in the UK in addressing welfare concerns at licensed dog breeding establishments. The Regulations provide for licensing of breeding premises with three or more breeding bitches. However, we do not wish to stand still and will be looking to review our Regulations to ensure they meet the high standards we are expecting. In particular there are still concerns about the welfare standards at some licensed breeding premises and also in the enforcement of the Regulations. The findings from this consultation will help shape future changes but we cannot pre- empt what those changes will be at this point.
There is currently no requirement for people breeding cats to be licensed.
There are 219 licensed dog breeders in Wales.
There are less than 20 licensed pet shops selling puppies and kittens in Wales.
Originally we put down all four UK countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as 4 countrywide bans. But we’ve learned that referendums need to occur in each country.
England has committed to passing legislation to end sales of dogs and cats in pet stores.
The government has confirmed it will be banning third party sales of puppies and kittens, Animal Welfare Minister David Rutley announced today (23 December 2018).
The decision was taken following a public consultation, from which there was over 95 per cent support for a ban. It will help bring to an end the terrible welfare conditions found in puppy farming and solve a range of existing animal welfare issues.
Wales, too, is close to committing, with a cut-off for public comment on the matter on 17 May 19. Under our Wales details we have a counter displayed if the date as not yet passed.
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