Puppy farms and smugglers went for heavy-handed action

They are known as the best friend of the man, but until now, legal loopholes have ensured that puppies could be exploited by unethical breeders who wanted to make a profit on animal welfare.

Now the government has indicated that it intends to target puppy farms and puppy-people smugglers with the aim of reducing the number of animals that live in gruesome breeding conditions.

The sale of puppy & # 39; s and kittens by pet shops and other trade dealers will be prohibited according to plans submitted by the government.

Anyone who buys or adopts a pet that is younger than six months must contact the breeder or a rescue center directly in the context of the proposed ban.

Environmental Secretary Michael Gove says the government would support a law that makes it illegal to buy or adopt a puppy from someone other than a recognized breeder or an animal referral center.

The new legislation comes from a nine-year campaign called Lucy's Law, led by veterinarian Marc Abraham from the Pup Aid campaign.
This was Lucy when she was rescued for the first time

The law would also include kittens.

It is hoped that the move will make it easier for potential buyers to know where their pet is coming from and under what circumstances it has been raised.

It would also make it illegal to buy a puppy or kitten in a pet store.

"What we want to do is try to make sure that everyone who has a pet knows that that puppy has been brought up in the right conditions," Gove told Sky News.

"That means we want to ban the sale of third parties and say that you can only buy a puppy from a legal breeder, someone you can visit, that you can see that puppy next to his mother, so that you know that that animal has been raised in a caring environment. "

The new legislation comes from a nine-year campaign called Lucy's Law, led by veterinarian Marc Abraham from the Pup Aid campaign.

He was motivated by the story of Lucy, a King Charles Spaniel who was rescued from a British puppy farm in 2013.

She had been used as a breeding bitch for five years, forced litter after litter, living in terrible conditions.

"Before Lucy was rescued, she'd probably be locked up in a cage or pen," Mr. Abraham told Sky News.

"Each separate litter, her puppies would have been removed too early, because it is urgent to sell them before they cease to be cute.

The new legislation comes from a nine-year campaign called Lucy's Law, led by veterinarian Marc Abraham from the Pup Aid campaign.
Dogs Trust supports the move

"She would probably have been crossed, stuck on straw or sawdust and she would not have received any veterinary attention."

Breeding and smuggling is a lucrative business.

The demand for puppies in the UK far exceeds the supply of ethical breeders, which means that unethical breeders can ask high prices for puppies and kittens.

But there are concerns that a ban on third-party sales would punish pet stores that are already faced with new, stricter sanctions on what puppies and kittens they can sell.

"The new regulations for animal experiments, which relate to the breeding of dogs and the sale of pets, will raise the bar for companies involved in these activities." The Pet Industry Federation, which represents more than 2,000 pet businesses in the UK, told Sky News.

"We are concerned that if an absolute ban on third-party sales is introduced without allowing the new rules to be introduced, it may lead to underground sales."

Despite the profits that can be made by unscrupulous dealers, a leading animal welfare charity said that the sentences were "meager" for those found guilty of animal abuse.

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, told Sky News: "At the moment you can get a punishment of up to three months if you are found guilty of illegally smuggling puppy's into the UK.

"But if you are found guilty of illegally importing cigarettes, you can get up to seven years."

The stricter sentences will be introduced in October as part of a series of new animal welfare legislation.

But with regard to Lucy's law, says Boyden, in order to be most effective, it must be supported by other measures.

"This is a great opportunity to make something really robust.

"Moreover, we would like to see the rehousing centers and sanctuaries being regulated, and we would like to tighten the rules on pet travel, as well as the total traceability of dogs being bred in the UK."

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