The Government has announced (22 December) that legislation to crack down on unscrupulous breeders and illegal puppy smuggling could be introduced in early 2018.
The proposals under consideration include compulsory licensing for anyone breeding and selling dogs, ensuring that licensed dog breeders show puppies alongside their mother before a sale is made, and tightening regulations to prevent online sales where prospective buyers have not seen the puppy before purchase.
“Responsible breeding and ownership of pets are among vets’ priorities, so we commend the Government’s plans for new and updated legislation around the buying and selling of pets, ensuring that its fit for purpose in the internet age we live.
“We also welcome the Government’s efforts to combat the illegal trade in puppies. As vets, we see first-hand the tragic consequences that can result from poorly bred and illegally imported puppies, with almost one third of vets reporting concerns about illegally imported puppies last Christmas.”
With the Government’s proposals also including plans to address the breeding of unhealthy dogs and dogs with severe genetic disorders, BVA president John Fishwick said:
“Tackling the breeding of dogs with severe hereditary health problems is a top concern for vets, particularly of brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs and French bulldogs.
“Poorly bred puppies can suffer diseases, health problems and poor socialisation that can lead to behaviour problems, resulting in heartache for the new owners now and in the longer term.
“We look forward to seeing how the Government’s proposals will be incorporated into legislation to ensure that there is no scope for unscrupulous breeding and selling practices to be driven underground. It is important that any legislation works hand in hand with proper enforcement and education of prospective pet owners.”
In addition, the Government has confirmed that it will take forward proposals put out for consultation earlier in the New Year to improve how all pets are bred and sold. This would include regulating adverts both in print and online to ensure pet sellers include their seller’s license number, country of origin and country of residence of the animal, and a ban on the sale of puppies and kittens under the age of eight weeks that will be extended to include rabbits.