A long running campaign which I have been involved with since my election to Parliament in 2010, has been for a ban on third-party puppy sales.
Over the years, evidence has shown that animals are still routinely being farmed in horrific conditions, before being passed on to third party puppy sellers. These farms see puppies reared in cramped conditions, often with little or no regard for their health, which then has a very detrimental impact on their development.
I have worked closely with Marc Abraham, or Marc the Vet as he is more commonly known, who founded the charity Pup Aid, as well as the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust, to raise awareness of the dangers of buying a puppy from a third party, particularly where there is no correct documentation or evidence that the puppy has formed an attachment with its mother. Whilst puppy farms are banned in England, they still exist in Wales, Ireland and across Europe, and it is these which often sell to people here who are completely unaware of the devastating consequences.
We have therefore continued to push for a ban on third-party puppy sales and I have given many speeches and attended many events to push for this change which would ensure that puppies are healthy and not reared in cruel environments.
With all this in mind, you can imagine my delight when yesterday the Environment Secretary laid down a raft of measures in Parliament to crackdown on unscrupulous puppy breeders and announced a call for evidence on banning third-party puppy sales.
The Government is seeking views with a view to introducing a ban on third party sales which would mean prospective dog owners would deal directly with either a breeder or with one of the nation’s many animal rehousing centres. It will mean legislation which will ban licensed sellers from dealing in puppies and kittens under the age of eight weeks, and ensure that breeders show puppies alongside their mother before a sale is made. And we will take further action to prevent the sale of weak underage puppies and the breeding of unhealthy dogs, along with dogs with severe genetic disorders.
These announcements are a huge step in the right direction and come as part of our wider plans to enhance animal welfare in this country, which include measures such as mandatory CCTV in all slaughterhouses and increasing the maximum prison sentences tenfold for animal abusers. We need to do everything we can to make sure the nation’s much-loved pets get the right start in life, so that is why we are cracking down on sellers who have a total disregard for their dogs’ welfare.
For me personally, it is great to see one of the campaigns which I have played an active part move in the right direction. It takes a huge amount of time, involvement from a variety of different people and effort to bring about legislative change so it is very satisfying to move one step closer. I will keep pushing for this as well as working on my other campaigns including CPR to be taught in all schools, national minimum standards for taxi’s and PHV’s and of course, opening up school facilities after school and during the holidays for groups who put on activities for youngsters.