Welfare compromises are inherent to the third party puppy trade. These sales are strongly associated with concerning compromises to animal welfare, including: increased risk of disease; lack of socialization; early separation from mother; behavioural problems; lack of routine health measures such as immunisation and worming; increased likelihood of sickness and illness; and potential early death. Puppy farmers regularly use third party sellers to hide the appalling conditions at their breeding establishments from puppy buyers. A puppy farmer is defined as a high-volume breeder who breeds puppies with little or no regard for the health and welfare of the puppies or their parents. Their main intent is not responsible breeding, but rather to earn profit.
According to our data, 46% of puppies bought through an online pet shop or directly over the internet got sick before their first birthday, including gastro-intestinal problems, external skin problems, and other, more severe illnesses.
The commercial third party sale of puppies and kitten has been banned in England since April 2020. Otherwise known as ‘Lucy’s Law’, the legislation means that anyone seeking to acquire a puppy in England must now buy directly from a breeder or a rescue centre. If a business continues to sell puppies without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be imprisoned for up to six months.
Similar legislation has been passed in Scotland and Wales, and is expected to be passed soon in Northern Ireland.
The Kennel Club’s views
The ban on commercial third party sales across Great Britain is a fantastic step forward for animal health and welfare and, after years of campaigning, we were incredibly pleased to welcome this progress. When passed, the legislation has instantly halted the horrific sale of puppies in environments where their welfare needs cannot be met, such as in pet shops and garden centres. We also believe that a legislative ban will simplify the enforcement landscape and better enable strong action to be taken against puppy dealers, whose business model places profit ahead of animal welfare.
We believe that requiring puppy buyers to purchase directly from the breeder will allow for greater public scrutiny of breeding establishments which, in turn, will drive up animal welfare standards across the country. The Kennel Club also believes that a ban on its own cannot address all of the problems associated with puppy trading and must be implemented as part of a wider body of work to improve welfare standards at such establishments.
It is essential that local authorities, who are responsible for enforcing the measures, are supplied with adequate resources to fully enforce the legislation and make meaningful change.
We will continue to promote and raise awareness of responsible breeders and to educate the public about the importance of sourcing a healthy puppy from a high welfare breeder. For example, our Assured Breeders scheme promotes good breeding practice and gives recognition to those breeders who are prioritising the health and welfare of their breeding stock and the puppies they produce.