Sale of Puppies and Kittens

Part of Backbench Business – in the House of Commons at 1:22 pm on 4th September 2014.

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Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson Conservative, North Swindon 1:22 pm, 4th September 2014

I thank my hon. Friend for that important intervention—my cats, Monty and Maggie, will have cheered. They are very proud that they came from properly licensed breeders.

Despite the obvious concerns about animal cruelty, horrific breeding conditions, malnourishment, lack of socialisation, lack of immunisation and de-worming, contracting infectious diseases and puppies being separated from their mothers too early, people unknowingly support puppy farming by purchasing pups from unlicensed breeders, thereby fuelling the puppy farming industry and putting themselves at risk of spending thousands of pounds on a puppy that is doomed to die soon after reaching his or her new home.

We know that one in three purchased pets come through pet shops online, particularly sites such as Gumtree, which was very slow to react to improve standards, or via newspaper adverts. Credit is due to the Pup Aid campaign, set up by Marc Abraham—Marc the vet from television, who is a celebrity—with great support from the Kennel Club, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the Blue Cross, Cats Protection, Dogs Rescue Protection and the RSPCA. All the heavyweights from the animal welfare world support this incredibly important campaign.

In summary, we want to see mandatory regulation and licensing for all dog breeders in the UK, rather than just those who breed four or more litters a year, and a ban on pet shops selling puppies. The majority of pet shop puppies come from farms, and there is no reason to allow that to continue. There should be stricter adherence to the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973, which demands that no person may keep a breeding establishment for dogs without a licence granted by the proper authority. The granting of a licence requires inspections of breeding practices and premises by a veterinary surgeon or practitioner and an officer of the authority, giving consumers confidence, as supported by 95% of the British public.

We must also ensure that enforcement is consistent, good and that it happens everywhere, because all too often it is patchy at best. There needs to be strict adherence to the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which Pup Aid believes requires secondary legislation. I would not normally call for regulation, but on a matter of such importance, and with great support from the public, I think that this is one of those times when we can push for it. It would repeal any outdated legislation and could be introduced to prohibit the licensing of pet shops or retail outlets that sell puppies or kittens where the mother is not present. However, regulation alone is inadequate. We also need to ensure that enforcement officers are well trained and supported so that there are more frequent and tighter inspections for breeders, giving consumers confidence that they are getting what they believe they are getting.

In conclusion, we need to end the free-for-all of mass breeding of puppies and kittens that prioritises profit over welfare. The public want action and I and other Members across the House fully support that.