UK Politics

Puppy sales laws to be tightened

Labradoodle puppies Image copyright Getty Images

The sale of puppies under eight weeks old is to be made illegal, as ministers tighten the law affecting pet dealers.

Anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year will have to apply for a formal licence.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom also said online sellers would have to meet strict welfare criteria to get a licence.

The chairman of a Commons committee said he was "disappointed" the government had not gone further.

But the environment department said its reforms would "safeguard the welfare of Britain's pets".

'Best start'

It said irresponsible breeders might neglect dogs' welfare and not get them properly vaccinated.

Breeders who break the rules face an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison.

In other changes, pet shops will be required to give buyers written information about the animals they buy, setting out the new owners' legal requirements under the Animal Welfare Act.

Ms Leadsom said: "Everyone who owns a pet or is looking to introduce one into their life will want to know that the animal has had the very best start to life.

"Yet for thousands of puppies born each year to irresponsible breeders, from smaller operations to larger puppy farms, their first weeks are spent in cramped and squalid conditions without the care and attention they need."

Conservative MP Neil Parish, who chairs the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said the move was a "step in the right direction".

But he said he was "unhappy" the government had not agreed to ban the third-party sale of dogs, as recommended by his committee.

"The government's own advice for a buyer to see a puppy with its mother is contradicted by the ability of third parties to sell puppies," he said.

Mr Parish also welcomed the new licensing regime but said it should apply to anyone selling more than two litters a year, not three as the government plans.