Our manifesto: a better future for dogs

Read our manifesto for the General Election.

Waffle campaigns for Dogs Trust outside number 10

We’re committed to making the world a better place for all dogs. And we’ll keep campaigning to improve dog welfare across the UK and engaging with politicians following the general election.  

For over 10 years we’ve been fighting to end the cruel puppy smuggling trade and shining a light on the widespread abuse of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) by unscrupulous traders. We’ll continue working with Parliamentarians across the UK to end this cruel trade once and for all.  

We’ve made lasting change through our lobbying work including the introduction of compulsory microchipping for dogs across the UK, much-needed regulation of animal rescues in Scotland, banning the use of cruel shock collars in Wales and updating outdated legislation governing animal breeding and sale. 

But our work is not done.

We are calling for the next Parliament to address –   

  • Housing  
  • Puppy smuggling  
  • Dog control  
  • Transparency and traceability – advertising, breeding, selling and microchipping  
  • Fireworks  
  • Regulating animal rescues  
  • Shock collars  
  • Greyhounds  

 Read more about our key priorities below.  


It is essential that all dogs and their owners have a place to call home, whether it’s temporary or emergency accommodation, or permanent housing in the private and social rented sectors. We have long called for an end to blanket “no pets” policies but sadly so many pet owners still struggle to find housing.

We received 45,400 handover enquiries in 2023, and one in seven of those owners said issues with housing were the reason for needing to rehome their dog.    

We want to see:

  • Pet owners having the same housing options as non-pet owners across all housing sectors.  
  • The Government bring forward legislation to ensure both future and current tenants in the private and social rented sectors have the right to keep a pet in their home.  
  • Landlords unable to refuse a request without well-defined reasonable grounds.    

Puppy smuggling

Since 2014, we’ve been exposing the widespread abuse of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). The scheme, intended for people taking their pets on holiday, has long been used as a cover by unscrupulous traders. These traders take advantage of the simple set up to illegally import underage puppies and pregnant mums from Central and Eastern Europe into Great Britain for sale.  

Puppy smuggling has thrived for too long. There have been continual delays to introducing legislation which could effectively tackle the trade. This has resulted in the ongoing suffering of countless puppies and pregnant mums.  

We want to see:

  • An increase of the age at which puppies can be imported to six months.  
  • A ban on the non-commercial transport of heavily pregnant dogs.  
  • A complete ban on the commercial movement of pregnant dogs.  
  • A ban on the importation and sale of dogs with cropped ears and docked tails for cosmetic reasons.  
  • Tougher penalties for smuggling puppies.  
  • Reduce the number of pets that can be brought into the country to 3 per vehicle.  

Dog control

We have been shocked and saddened by recent incidents involving dog bites and aggression, some of which have led to tragic fatalities. We understand and share concerns following these incidents, and it is clear the law has not prevented a rise in serious dog bites. We therefore believe that reform of dog control legislation is long overdue and that Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) that targets specific breeds of dogs needs to be repealed and replaced.  

We want to see:

  • Interventions that focus on safe behaviour around dogs and effective breed neutral legislation and enforcement, with measures that allow for early intervention.  
  • Standardised recording and reporting of dog bites and strikes, to understand better how bites can be avoided.  
  • Introduce dog bite prevention on the school curriculum. 

Electronic shock collars

We have been campaigning for cruel electronic shock collars to be banned for a number of years. We were delighted to see them banned in Wales in 2010, and it’s time this ban was replicated across the UK.  

We want to see:  

  • A complete ban on the sale of Electronic Training Devices in the UK - only the UK Government has the power to do this.  

Transparency and traceability

There are an estimated 12.64 million dogs in the UK, and public demand for dogs is high. At the current rate, approximately 1 million more dogs will be brought into homes every year. It’s incredibly concerning that we don’t have full transparency of traceability across the UK of all dogs bred and sold.   


Dogs Trust chairs the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG). This group was created in 2001 following growing concerns regarding the irresponsible advertising of pets for sale online.  

Shockingly, regulation of online pet advertising and sale is still extremely limited and we …


Breeding and selling

Currently breeders only require a licence if they are breeding more than three litters a year. This means that some breeders and sellers evade the licensing system by posing as a small-scale breeder, or by operating satellite style breeding operations. To tackle this, we …



We welcomed the introduction of compulsory microchipping under the Microchipping of Dogs Regulations 2015. This law intended to make it easier to reunite lost and stolen dogs with their owners, as well as improve traceability of breeders. But there are more than 20 compliant …


Regulating animal rescues

Worryingly, anyone in Northern Ireland, England and Wales can currently set themselves up as an animal rescue and rehome dogs locally and from overseas with no licensing or inspection necessary. As it stands, being an animal rescue does not necessarily equate to good welfare.     

We’ve got serious concerns about international rehoming, including the risk of imported diseases and behavioural issues that overseas rescue dogs may experience. Many of these organisations operate solely via social media without a business premises and so appropriate licensing is required.    

We want to see:

  • All animal rescues subject to licensing and inspection, ensuring that regulation includes those that rehome domestically and from overseas.  


Fireworks can be extremely stressful for a dog, with an estimated 25-66% of the population affected. This can put them at greater risk of hurting themselves and, in some cases, lead to long-term changes in behaviour which may become challenging for owners. 

25-66% dogs

are affected by stress caused by fireworks

Easy access to fireworks means dog owners are facing a constant waiting game when it comes to loud noises and scared pets.  
We want to see:

  • Restrictions around the use and sale of fireworks, limiting them to licensed, public occasions at certain times of the year and organised events only.  


Greyhound racing is inherently dangerous for the dogs involved. Running at speed around oval tracks causes significant injury to many dogs, and in some cases the injuries are so severe that it is necessary to euthanise the dog. Due to ineffective regulation and a lack of transparency regarding industry practices, there are welfare concerns at every stage of a racing greyhound’s life.   

We want to see:  

  • A phased end to greyhound racing across the UK as soon as possible. Our expectation is that a phase out of the industry should be possible within five years, to allow Dogs Trust and partners to carefully plan and coordinate the care for the dogs affected. As Wales and Scotland each have one active track remaining, we expect this phase out to take less time for those nations.  

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