Animal Welfare

Thank you for your email regarding the animal welfare debate. Please accept my apology for the delay in responding to you. I agree with you that further sanctions must be put in place in order to ban all third-party puppy sales, recommended by the Defra Select Committee.

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP, recently said this on the matter:

“I understand the desire to try and help potential buyers realise that puppies should be seen with their mothers before they are purchased. Indeed, DEFRA makes such a recommendation. However, I think the specific proposal for an outright ban on all third-party sales is more problematic.

First, we have to consider who would enforce it and how they would do so. Local authorities have to balance their local priorities, and trying to establish whether a particular online advertiser of puppies is located in their area would require the commitment of considerable resources. As I have said, we have already increased the burden on local authorities by taking the number of people required to be licensed from 600 to some 5,000. The demand for dogs is also such that in our view there is a significant risk that an outright ban on third-party sales would simply drive the market underground.

We have therefore decided to address the problem in a different way, through a tougher approach to licensing provisions and to enforcement of the provisions in the Pet Animals Act 1951. First, we are placing beyond any doubt that online commercial sellers need to have a licence. It is not a pet shop licence; it is now a licence for animal sellers, and we will make that absolutely clear in revisions to the licensing conditions. Secondly, as with dog breeders, we propose that statutory conditions should be applied to all licensed pet sellers, whether online or a shop. These will again be based on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health model conditions for pet vending licensing of 2013. Thirdly, we have also made it clear that, as a condition of having such a licence, if breeders advertise online they will in future need to state their licence number. That will be particularly important in helping with enforcement. I believe that these steps to strengthen the licensing regime currently set out under the 1951 Act go a long way towards addressing the concerns raised.”

To read the rest of the debate, please follow this link:

Thank you once again for contacting me, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me if you require any further information.

Kind regards,

Derek Thomas MP

For St Ives, West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.