Today (Monday 6 April) the Government has introduced landmark new legislation to tackle the low-welfare, high volume supply of puppies and kittens, by banning their commercial third-party sale in England.
‘Lucy’s Law’ means that anyone wanting to get a new puppy or kitten in England must now buy direct from a breeder, or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead. Licensed dog breeders are required to show puppies interacting with their mothers in their place of birth. If a business sells puppies or kittens without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months.
The law is named after Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was rescued from a puppy farm where she was subjected to terrible conditions. Puppy farms are located across the UK with most depending on third-party sellers or ‘dealers’ to distribute often sick, traumatised, unsocialised puppies which have been taken away from their mother at just a few weeks old.
This often involves long-distance transportation, with the puppy or kitten suffering life-threatening medical, surgical, or behavioural problems which are passed on to unsuspecting new owners. Lucy’s Law effectively removes the third-party dealer chain, resulting in all dog and cat breeders becoming accountable for the first time.
As well as Lucy’s Law, the Government has committed to supporting tougher sentences for animal cruelty, raising maximum prison sentences from six months to five years, and has pledged to bring in new laws on animal sentience
and to end excessively long journeys for live animals.
Animal welfare minister Lord Goldsmith said:
Today is a significant milestone for animal welfare, and a major step towards ending cruel puppy farming and smuggling. After all the hard work of Marc Abraham and the Lucy’s Law campaign, I’m so pleased that we finally have this crucial legislation which will help tackle the heart-breaking third-party trade of dogs and cats.
But we also need the public to do their bit to help by always asking to see puppies and kittens interacting with their mothers in their place of birth, looking out for the warning signs, and reporting any suspicious activity. By raising awareness of illegal sellers to the local authorities, we can all help to protect the nation’s cats and dogs and give them the best start in life.
Marc Abraham, media vet, author, founder of Pup Aid and the Lucy’s Law campaign, said:
I’m incredibly proud to have led the 10-year campaign to ban cruel puppy and kitten dealers and to get this essential Lucy’s Law legislation over the line. I’d like to give a huge thanks to UK Government for passing this law, as well as every animal-loving parliamentarian, celebrity, welfare organisation, and member of the public that supported us.
Lucy was an incredibly brave dog, and it’s right that her memory is honoured with such an important piece of legislation to help end puppy farm cruelty; protecting breeding dogs just like her, as well as cats, their young, and also
unsuspecting animal-lovers from the dangers of irresponsible breeding and cruel puppy and kitten dealers.
Lucy’s Law is the result of a 10-year grassroots campaign supported by prominent figures including Ricky Gervais, Brian May, Rachel Riley, and Peter Egan, and it will help disrupt the supply chain of unscrupulous breeders and dealers who breed dogs in shocking conditions, often kept imprisoned alone in the dark, with very little human or canine company.
Last month, the Government launched the ‘Petfished’ campaign to highlight these conditions and the deceitful tactics pet sellers use to trick buyers into thinking they are responsible breeders selling healthy animals. The campaign urges the public to look out for warning signs which suggest the seller could be an illegal third-party dealer such as litters without a mum present or being rushed through a sale.
For more advice on how to buy a pet safely visit getyourpetsafely.campaign.gov.uk.
Anyone looking to buy a puppy or kitten should look for these warning signs
- Research. Have a look at the seller’s profile and search their name online. If they are advertising many litters from different breeds, then this is a red flag.