Defra has announced new moves on puppy sales to help crack down on puppy farms and ‘back street breeders’.
It will be illegal to sell puppies younger than eight weeks old and anyone breeding and selling three or more litters a year will have to apply for a licence. All breeders will have to meet welfare criteria and the regulations will also apply to those who sell via the internet.
Gudrun Ravetz, president of the British Veterinary Association, said: “This is a significant step in the right direction to improve the welfare of puppies and dogs in the UK, an issue our members are extremely concerned about as increasing numbers of poorly-bred puppies are brought into veterinary practices.
“We particularly welcome the move to make the sale of a puppy under eight weeks illegal, the reduction in the number of litters bred requiring a formal breeder’s licence, and the moves towards a single animal activities licence. In the future we would also like to see that anyone breeding from a dog should be required to register with their local authority.
“For these new measures to work in practice, local authorities must have the necessary resources and support to fully enforce the legislation, supported by local veterinary expertise.
“We hope the new legislation will encourage owners to stop and think about where they’re getting their puppies from to tackle irresponsible breeding both at home and abroad.”
Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said: “We are pleased that Defra will be taking forward proposals to ban the sale of puppies under the age of eight weeks by commercial third parties.
“We have called for a ban on third party sales, and refuse to register puppies being sold to third parties, but this new rule is a step in the right direction.
“We also welcome the requirement for pet sellers to provide written information about the animals they sell and for those who sell pets online to display their licence number.”