We want a ban on sales of puppies in pet shops as part of a package of measures. Here’s what we want...
The welfare of our nation’s dogs is our highest priority. We want to see an end to third party sales and the sale of puppies in pet shops but there are crucial steps which need to be taken so we can all be confident a ban can have the success we all want to see…
- The licensing and inspection of anyone breeding or selling puppies must be robust and consistent and by someone fully trained in animal welfare. Before this can happen, inspectors must have the full support of both the government and their local authority to enforce the right standards. We are working with the government on the new regulations and are hoping to support vital training of local authority inspectors in the coming months.
- We want governments across the UK to regulate rehoming organisations and sanctuaries and we will continue to campaign against this gaping loophole (we’re responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation). If a ban was introduced, the options for getting a dog would either be directly from the breeder or from a rehoming organisation. As rehoming organisations are not regulated, and anyone can set themselves up as one, we are deeply concerned this would be exploited by puppy traders.
- We called on the government to introduce registration and licensing of all breeding and rehoming establishments to create full transparency and traceability in the system. We want anyone breeding or selling a litter of puppies to be registered and anyone breeding or selling more than one litter of puppies to be licensed. We were disappointed that the government did not take on this recommendation as this would have brought all breeders onto the local authority’s radar. We continue to push for this.
- Introducing a ban at this time fails to deal with the root cause of the problem, which is simply that ethical breeders in the UK cannot meet the growing demand for certain types of puppies. As long as their supply falls short, dishonest breeders will breed dogs for increasing profits and evade the law, once again making enforcement even more difficult. We already know that this is happening now. It is not that supply must meet demand; supply will meet demand due to the profits to be made by unscrupulous individuals.
- Changes to the law must be fit for purpose. We’ve seen first-hand the tragic results of unintended consequences when changes to the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) in 2012 made it possible for an influx of puppies to be illegally imported into Great Britain for sale as corrupt breeders abused the system. These criminals - who remain unfazed by the inadequate penalties - would not be deterred by a ban and will continue to import puppies under PETS, condemning thousands of puppies to this horrific trade. We have even seen shocking cases of heavily pregnant bitches being imported.
- In an ideal world people would rehome a rescue dog; in reality we know that some people want a specific breed, are not willing to wait and rescue organisations do not always have puppies for rehoming. The government and animal welfare sector must work together to facilitate a marketplace dominated by ethical breeders, while we continue to promote the benefits of rehoming a rescue dog.
- We need to know more about buyer behaviour and how best to educate consumers. Our research team are undertaking a thorough, long term investigation into dog breeding and selling in the UK to explore more evidence-based solutions to the problems of unethical breeding and selling. More details can be found here.
- We continue to recommend that future owners should always see a puppy interacting with its mum and littermates. Whilst we support a ban on puppies being sold away from their mothers, we’ve again got to make sure that this is enforceable. For example, we know dishonest breeders are using fake mums to fool unsuspecting members of the public into thinking they are buying a puppy responsibly. We are also hearing reports of dealers blatantly buying puppies in Ireland and selling them in the UK as 'rescue'.
- Independent research* revealed that 61% of people think that a ban should definitely not be imposed until we know more about the consequences of doing so. A further 11% of respondents think that there should definitely not be a ban, whereas only 28% of respondents think it is sensible to introduce a ban now.
*Populus interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,079 UK adults aged 18+ from its online panel between 24-26th March 2017. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk.