England’s Lucy’s Law To Ban Pet Stores From Selling Pets

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
A ban preventing licensed dog and cat sellers from selling pets under eight-weeks-old will come into effect in England on October 1, and may be followed by a ban on pet shops and dealers selling any puppies or kittens unless they come from a rescue or a breeder.

In England, a ban against licensed dealers selling pets under eight weeks of age will go into effect on October 1, and proposals that will prohibit pet stores and dealers in England from selling any puppies or kittens are under consultation.

This means that anyone looking to buy or adopt a pet (who is under six-months-old) will either need to go to a rescue center or find a specific breeder.

Supporters of the ban hope that health problems that come up when pets are raised in ‘puppy mill’ type situations will be reduced. It is a victory for those who support Lucy’s Law–a campaign that is named after a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was poorly treated at such a puppy mill. She was so abused from being sired out at a Welsh Puppy farm that she suffered complications she eventually died from in 2016.

In Great Britain, the Blue Cross (an animal charity) estimates that between 40,000 and 80,000 puppies are sold by third parties, though there are no records to specifically support that. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs claims that fewer than 100 third-party sellers are even licensed in England. This includes some pet stores.

Related: British Government Wants to Crack Down on Puppy Mill Breeders

Michael Gove is the Environment Secretary and said that this legislation would stop people who have no regard for pet welfare from profiting from the horrible trade industry.

Marc Abraham is a veterinarian who launched the campaign for Lucy’s Law and said that this would make breeders and puppy ‘farms’ transparent and accountable–a good move for animal welfare and pet health overall. With the new legislation, pet shops will no longer be able to blame breeders for problems, and breeders won’t be able to blame pet stores.

Paula Boyden is with Dogs Trust and says the legislation is a good start but fears that loopholes may need to be closed so animals don’t suffer. She says it needs more measures that will make re-homing/rescue organizations meet stronger regulations as well.

Chris Wainwright is the deputy chief executive of the RSPCA and said that he hoped this ‘overdue’ ban would raise welfare standards and end the trade of rogue dealers who prey on the unsuspecting public. No longer will third parties be able to take the criticism of irresponsible breeders away by being the middle-person, often when families have no idea and believe they are buying from reputable breeders.

Related: Historic Bill Banning Puppy Mill Pet Store Sales in Hands of California Governor

Obviously, there are those who are not so thrilled about the legislation. The Pet Industry Federation said that puppy mills should, of course, be closed down but in banning third-party sales, they fear large underground sales rings occurring and this could be just as bad (or worse) for animal welfare.

As of October 1, licensed pet sellers will have to have their license number listed and breeders will have to show puppies by their mothers before sales are allowed. Campaigners in Wales are also calling to implement Lucy’s Law and the Welsh government is looking at banning third-party sales as well.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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