Animal welfare boosted by new law coming into force today

New regulations have come into force today to strengthen animal welfare, particularly around puppy sales, in England.

These will:

  • Ensure that breeders must show puppies alongside their mother before a sale is made;
  • Tighten regulations so that puppy sales are completed in the presence of the new owner – preventing online sales where prospective buyers have not seen the animal first;
  • Ban licensed sellers from dealing in puppies and kittens under the age of eight weeks;
  • Regulate adverts, including on the internet, by ensuring licensed sellers of all pets include the seller’s licence number, country of origin and country of residence of the pet in any advert for sale; and
  • Introduce a new “star rating” for dog breeders, pet shops and others to help people rate them on their animal welfare standards.

These regulations, which are strongly supported by animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA who’ve campaigned for a number of years, complement the government’s commitment to introduce a ban on third party sales of puppy and kitten sales which has recently been consulted on.

Animal Welfare Minister, David Rutley, said: “These regulations will end mistreatment and malpractice of puppies and crack down on unscrupulous breeders so pet owners will have no doubt their new dogs have had the right start in life.

“The licensing systems for businesses that work with animals have not been reformed for almost 50 years. The changes in place from today simplify these into one system for local authorities, help consumers to make better informed decisions and will further improve animal welfare.”

A key part of these new licences will be a new “star rating” (out of five) for dog breeders, pet shops and other licensed activities involving animals.

This rates these businesses, on welfare and other grounds, and helps buyers use the best breeders as well as local authorities to more heavily regulate the poorer rated (such as through more welfare inspections, increased costs and shorter licences).

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