Cats and Dogs: Coronavirus

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 24th July 2020.

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Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on trends in the level of (a) puppy farming, (b) puppy smuggling and (c) third-party sales of puppies and kittens.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra is in regular contact with the companion animal welfare sector to discuss matters including dog breeding and sales activity. There has been a high level of demand for pets as more people have been staying at home during the Covid-19 outbreak. We recognise that there are risks of people buying puppies which have unknowingly been bred in poor welfare conditions whether at home or abroad. To help combat this situation, Defra launched a national Government communications campaign in March 2020, 'Petfished', to coincide with the introduction of the ban on the commercial third-party sale of puppies and kittens in England which came into force on 6 April 2020.

The campaign raises awareness of the consequences of buying from a low-welfare seller and challenges the assumption that it is easy to spot bad practice. 'Petfished' also educates the public on best practice for finding a new pet and signposts individuals to resources available to help them make the right decision. We will be shortly launching the second phase of 'Petfished' this month, with the continued support of major animal welfare charities, veterinary associations and celebrities.

In addition, we are fully committed to cracking down on the vile and illegal trade in pets and operate one of the most rigorous pet border checking regimes in the world. Leaving the EU provides us with the opportunity to further crack down on puppy smuggling in line with our manifesto commitment.

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