Justin Tomlinson MP’s campaign to end the abhorrent practice of puppy & kitten farming has been successful after the Government announced it would take action to outlaw the practice alongside so-called “third-party sales”.
The North Swindon MP has actively campaigned for a reform to the law to protect domestic pets, alongside TV vet Marc Abrahams and PupAid Ambassador Rachel Riley, since he was first elected in 2010.
As a nation of animal lovers, people across the United Kingdom welcome more pets into their homes than most nations around the world. Statistics suggest that each year more than 700,000 puppies and 700,000 are sold across the UK and that the demand for kittens is approximately the same.
The current law governing the breeding & sales of pets dates back to 1951. It say that puppies and kittens can either be purchased via a third-party sellers, or directly from a breeder.
The quality of third-party sellers varies wildly. There are no official records of the number of puppies sold via third-parties, which makes it difficult to know how many puppies are bought in this way, but it is believed the number could be as high as 80,000 every year.
While most puppies and kittens are bought through reputable sellers who demand the highest welfare standards, evidence shows that too many of these pets are still being bred in horrific conditions on so-called “puppy farms”, before being passed on to third-party sellers.
These farms see puppies reared in cramped conditions, often with little or no regard for their health, which then has a detrimental impact on their development.
In 2014, Justin helped lead a cross-party debate on the issue of puppy & kitten smuggling – the first major debate on the issue in the House of Commons ever. The campaign was backed by more than 140,000 people across the country (including thousands from Swindon) who signed a Parliamentary petition set up by TV vet Marc Abrahams and the PupAid campaign.
Since that debate, Justin has continued to push for changes to law, meeting with experts from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the Kennel Club, and PupAid, as well as repeatedly raising the issue with Ministers.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove launched a nationwide public consultation on the imposing a ban on the commercial third-party sales earlier in the year. The consultation, which received thousands of responses, set out bold changes which will not only update the law, but strengthen it.
The Government’s proposals, which adopt the reforms put forward by Justin & PupAid will:
- prevent pet shops, pet dealers, and other outlets from selling these animals in England unless they themselves had bred them
- ban licensed sellers from dealing in puppies and kittens under the age of eight weeks
- ensure that licensed breeders show puppies & kittens alongside their mother before a sale is made
- tackle the sale of weak underage puppies & kittens
- introduce compulsory licensing for anyone in the business of breeding & selling dogs or cats
- require puppy & kitten sales to be completed in the presence of the new owner (preventing online sales where prospective buyers have not seen the animal first),
Justin Tomlinson MP said: “I am delighted that the Environment Secretary has backed my calls to end puppy & kitten farming as well as commercial third-party sales. There is no place in society for those who abuse animals. Their sickening acts should always be met with the full force of the law. This latest change in the law, and our plans to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years, shows how seriously we take this. This new legislation will help save the lives of hundreds of puppies & kittens each year, and ensure that families can welcome pets into their homes – knowing that they have had a caring & safe start to life.”