I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity to speak in this important debate. As my inbox attests, it is an extremely important issue for many of my constituents. It is also important to me, as I am the owner of a lovely springer spaniel called Leo. My family adopted him when he was seven months old, and he is now nearly nine.
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend Robert Flello and his colleagues for securing this debate and for introducing it so well. I also pay tribute to the members of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee for their report on dog control and welfare.
As any dog lover would agree, the crux of this matter is that we simply cannot see dogs or kittens as commodities. They are not an asset or a piece of capital from which a producer seeks to extract as much financial gain as possible. They are future members of our families, future best friends for our children and future companions for us when our children flee the nest. They are sentient beings, with similar feelings and reactions to us. We would not stand for our children being mistreated in the way that some domestic animals are at birth, as they are ripped apart from their mother and the nurture that she instinctively provides. We would not stand for that because we know how that kind of trauma affects them later in life, whether it is to their personality, their health or both. We all want to encourage more responsible dog ownership. I cannot think of any responsible dog owner who would be happy in the knowledge that their new puppy or kitten, which they thought had been bought from a reputable breeder or at least from a pet shop that deals exclusively with responsible breeders, had actually had such a traumatic start in life.