Chris Evans, the MP for Islwyn, has this week called on the Government to take action against unscrupulous unlicensed breeders of puppies, after hearing of the shocking and unethical conditions the dogs are kept in.
With Battersea Dogs and Cats Home estimating that 88% of puppies born in Great Britain are bred from unlicensed breeders, it is clear that puppy farmers and smugglers continue to have an unwelcome presence in this country.
Reports from a variety of animal welfare charities have described the horrific conditions that they have found puppies and their mothers in. In one case, puppies were squashed into rabbit-hutch style cages with their mothers, with no water or space to move around. In the majority of cases, the mothers are bred within an inch of their lives, seen only as profit-producing machines birthing far over the recommended limit of litters per bitch.
Legally, puppies must not leave their mother or be sold until they are at least eight weeks old. Unlicensed breeders however are notorious for selling them from two weeks old, unvaccinated and malnourished due to being deprived its mother’s milk. As a result, unwitting buyers find themselves paying hundreds of pounds for sickly puppies and incurring further emotional and financial hardship in ongoing vet’s fees – a best case scenario considering many puppies sadly do not make it past six months of age.
As a result, there has been mounting pressure on the Government from animal and pet welfare charities to update the Pet Animals Act 1951 – a piece of legislation which predates the internet – to include the regulation of pet sales online. There have also been calls for a ban on the third-party sales of puppies, in conjunction with stricter licensing standards for breeders, and animal welfare-specific training for officers across the local authorities responsible for issuing dog breeding licenses.
Mr Evans, who on Tuesday led a debate in the House of Commons on the sale of puppies, said to the House: ‘I urge the Government to review the current legislation surrounding sales of puppies and other pets in the UK. The 1951 Act must be updated to regulate online sales of puppies. More importantly, we need to ensure that local authorities and licensing officers receive full, appropriate training to do their jobs properly.
Dogs bring so much joy to our lives and help us in so many ways. Whether we keep dogs for work, as a health aid or simply for companionship, it is high time that we gave something back to our four-legged friends and afforded them the protection they deserve.’