A change in UK legislation is being discussed in Parliament, concerning the sale and passage of young puppies and kittens. The sale and passage of pets in pet shops (which are licenced and regulated) is currently controlled under The 1951 Pets and Animals Act.
Concerns are being raised over the inter-European transport of young animals and pets with the purpose to resell in Britain. Under new EU rules on pet passports, puppies cannot be legally imported into Britain unless they are at least 15 weeks old.
What is being questioned is the enforcement of current legislation, whether already held in legislation is currently being implemented and enforced. Minister George Eustice said only 2% of the animals were sold in pet shops and councils already had the power to restrict sales.
Another great concern is the expanding trade in online pet sales. Shadow environment minister Angela Smith is reported as saying that the challenges raised by the sale of kittens and puppies in pet shops for animal welfare was “only the tip of the iceberg”.
Labour MP Robert Flello spoke of animals bred in unsanitary puppy farms, where they are separated from their mums too early. Such conditions contributed to serious genetic health problems and behavioural issues and demanded an end to the “cruel and unnecessary practice”. Flello went on further to say that prospective dog owners should either adopt from a reputable refugee shelter, or a responsible breeder where puppy and mother are seen interacting together.
Conservative MP Anne McIntosh told MPs it was “self-evident” potential owners should not be buying puppies or kittens where the mother is absent, and further asked. “Do we need to legislate that? Isn’t that something we just need to go out and educate the public on?”
Conservative minister George Eustice, summing up for Defra, said a new voluntary code of conduct for pet sales in operation since the start of the year has resulted in 100,000 adverts from illicit breeders being removed from the internet.
He said pet shops were licensed and regulated under the 1951 Pets and Animals Act – but there was “much that can be done” to strengthen the regulations to improve animal welfare. He further stated that more guidance would be produced and sent to local authorities to provide clarity on enforcement of rules.
Questions remain in Parliament and are currently being debated to an effective amendment to the 1951 legislation, or whether further consideration is needed to implement already standing but under-controlled legislation.