New Clause 17 - Regulation of online animal sales

Part of Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 18th November 2021.

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Photo of Olivia Blake Olivia Blake Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 12:45 pm, 18th November 2021

Thank you, Mr Davies—I will be quick. I am sure that everyone knows about the “justice for Reggie” campaign, which has been working tirelessly better to regulate online sales of animals following a tragic experience. Reggie was a 12-week-old Labrador who was sold online through a reputable website that advertises thousands of puppies for sale, but he was sold without proper care from a breeder and with insufficient checks to safeguard his welfare and wellbeing. Within 12 hours of Reggie arriving home with his new owners, he fell gravely ill. He spent the next three days receiving care at a vets before dying of parvovirus. His death was painful and horrific, and his owners were understandably still traumatised because of their ordeal. Following Reggie’s death, it was discovered that false documentation had been provided, and in fact Reggie was unwell at the time of the sale.

The new clause proposes further regulation of online animal sales to prevent situations such as Reggie’s happening again. It would require all websites that sell animals to verify the identity of all sellers. It further proposes that all prospective sellers who wish to sell a cat or dog aged one year or less must post a photograph of the animal with one of its parents. Putting such checks on a legal footing would help strengthen the use of online sales—unfortunately, I do not think we can end them—and is essential to prevent animals being sold with falsified or no documentation. We could therefore ensure that all animals sold come from reputable, trustworthy breeders.