A new law that will ban puppy and kitten farming comes into force in April this year.
Known as ‘Lucy’s Law’, the legislation will prevent the animals being sold by a third party seller - like pet shops and commercial dealers - unless they bred them themselves.
The law, passed in Parliament in 2019, is named after Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who died in 2016 after being subjected to terrible conditions in a Welsh puppy farm.
From April 2020, anyone who wants to buy or adopt a puppy or a kitten under six months old will have to deal directly with the person who bred the animal, or a rescue shelter.
Marc Abraham, founder of campaign group Pup Aid, said he was “thrilled” by the change to legislation, and said it was named after “one of the sweetest, bravest dogs I’ve ever known, and is a fitting tribute to all the victims of the cruel third party puppy trade”.
What is wrong with puppy farming?
Dogs and cats are often kept by “farmers” who breed them to produce multiple litters for profit. The puppies and kittens are taken from their mothers at just a few weeks old, and advertised online or sold in pet shops.
The practice causes lifelong issues for the animals - including socialisation issues, and compromises their immune systems.
Lucy’s Law will enforce rules meaning puppies and kittens will be born and reared by their mothers in a safe environment for six months, and sold from their place of birth.
Marc Abraham condemned puppy farming practices, saying, “For years irresponsible breeders in the UK and abroad, so-called puppy farmers, have depended on commercial third party sellers – e.g. dealers and pet shops – to keep their breeding dogs and puppies in horrific conditions hidden from the public.”
RSPCA chief executive, Chris Sherwood, said the ban, “if properly enforced, will help protect thousands of puppies and their mothers who are the victims of this horrific trade.
“Every year, the RSPCA’s officers see first-hand the devastating impact that the unscrupulous puppy trade has on dogs and their owners.”
In 2018, the RSPCA’s inspectors received 4,397 complaints about the puppy trade in England alone - a 162 per cent increase on 2013.