New legislation to end puppy farming comes into effect as public interest in new pets soars

Lucy’s Law comes into play today as The Kennel Club reports rise in interest for puppies during the Covid-19 pandemic

New legislation which comes into effect today (6 April) and aims to curb cruel puppy farming, has been welcomed as a ‘long-awaited and crucial step’ by The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to the health and welfare of dogs.

Known as ‘Lucy’s Law’, it will mean that puppies and kittens can no longer be sold in England by a third party seller – such as a pet shop or commercial dealer – unless they have bred the animal themselves. Instead, anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy under 6 months must either deal directly with the breeder or an animal rehoming centre.

Holly Conway, Head of Public Affairs at The Kennel Club commented: “We are delighted that Lucy’s Law has been introduced today, it’s a long-awaited and crucial step. Sadly, too often irresponsible breeders in the UK and abroad have depended on commercial third party sellers – like ‘dealers’ or pet shops – to disguise the horrific conditions puppies are bred and brought up in to the public, readily making a huge profit while causing untold suffering.

“We hope Lucy’s Law will help bring an end to this and that, as well as improving welfare conditions for puppies, it will also encourage anyone thinking of getting a puppy to really do their research, find a responsible breeder and bring home a happy, healthy new addition to the family.”

Today’s legislation comes as new figures from The Kennel Club show a surge in public interest in getting a puppy in the last month.

Searches for new puppies via The Kennel Club’s ‘Find a Puppy’ tool increased by 53 per cent from February to March, with the biggest spike seen in the week leading up to lockdown – the 16th - 23rd of March. Searches were up 37 per cent compared to the previous week, and 84 per cent compared to the same week in 2019.

The figures also indicate most people searching for a puppy at this time are doing so at the weekend, with Saturday 21st March seeing the highest spike in those using the Find a Puppy tool, just ahead of Boris Johnson’s announcement of new, more stringent Covid-19 measures. The top three most searched for breeds are all traditional 'family favourites' - Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and Golden Retrievers. 

Commenting on this rise in interest, Holly said: “With people staying at home, meaning they have more time on their hands and to spend with family, it’s perhaps unsurprising that some are thinking about getting a puppy. While we would underline that now may not be the right time to bring home a puppy, or make an impulsive decision to get a pet, these figures could be a sign of more people looking to find a breeder directly in the future, which is extremely positive and what Lucy’s Law aims to impose. The new legislation requires puppies to be born and reared in a safe environment, kept with their mother and only sold from their place of birth, instead of a pet shop or commercial animal dealer.

“The current situation could provide a good opportunity for potential new owners to really do their research – from carefully considering if they’re genuinely ready for all the responsibilities that come with a dog and finding the right breed for them, as there are 221 to choose from, to understanding what a responsible breeder looks like and learning how to ‘puppy proof’ the home or make changes to their lifestyle to accommodate their new family member.

“Preventing suffering caused by quick, careless decisions and deceptive, profit-hungry puppy farmers is what Lucy’s Law is all about. The more time you spend, the more aware you will be, and the much more likely you are to bring home a happy, healthy puppy, from a responsible, caring breeder - rather than fuelling untold suffering and heartache as a result of third party sellers hiding horrific breeding conditions.”

More information about responsible breeding and pet ownership can be found on The Kennel Club website.

Read more information for owners and breeders about Covid-19.