UK pet shops face puppy sale ban to protect dogs

Under the proposals, people buying or adopting a dog would deal directly with licenced breeders or rehousing centre

Pet shops in England could be banned from selling puppies to stop dogs being exploited.

Under the proposals, people buying or adopting a dog would deal directly with a breeder or rehousing centre.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the plan would be examined as part of a new package of measures aimed at driving up welfare standards.

Breeders will face enhanced licensing conditions later this year as part of the move.

Gove said a ban on puppy sales by pet shops and other third party dealers would mean anyone buying or adopting a dog would only be allowed to deal directly with the breeder or an animal rehousing centre.

 Under the new rules, breeders or sellers dogs must be licensed and will not be able to sell puppies and kittens under eight weeks old.

Puppies must also be shown alongside their mother before a sale is made, and - amid concern over online sales - purchases must be completed in the presence of the new owner.

The ban has so far not come in after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) concluded a ban on third party sales would lead to the creation of an illegal market following evidence from Dogs Trust and Blue Cross.

The Dogs Trust welcomed the government's latest thinking on the issue, which is subject to a consultation.

Paula Boyden, veterinary director for the Dogs Trust said: "If a ban was introduced now, puppy farmers could exploit loopholes such as setting themselves up as unregulated re-homing centres or sanctuaries.

"Licensing and inspection of dog breeders and sellers must also be stronger to ensure that everyone involved in the trade is on the radar of local authorities."

RSPCA deputy chief executive Chris Wainwright said: "We are delighted that Defra is considering a ban on third party sales of puppies.

"We believe that cracking down on unscrupulous traders, who put profit ahead of animal welfare, will provide much-needed protection for prospective pet owners and puppies.”

Later this year it will be illegal for breeders to sell puppies who are less than eight-weeks.

Gove said: "We need to do everything we can to make sure the nation's much loved pets get the right start in life.

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