NEWS: News

UK Government’s new measures on dog licensing

The UK Government has announced that tougher dog breeding licensing rules will be introduced. The measures include tightening up laws around selling of pets and breeding of dogs, including banning the sale of puppies younger than eight weeks. In addition, anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year will need to apply for a licence.

FOUR PAWS UK welcomes the ban on the sale of puppies under the age of 8 weeks old as it is essential for their proper development, as well as their physical and psychological welfare that they are not removed from their mothers before that age, as an absolute minimum.
FOUR PAWS UK also welcomes the decision that the Government will be taking into account the huge problem of the online sale of pets, as there is a clear need for a tougher system, which we as an organisation have been campaigning for in recent years through our Pet Deception campaign. (

Julie Sanders, International Director of Companion Animals for FOUR PAWS commented:
"It is clearly time for the sale of animals online to be given the attention it deserves. The online trade is poorly regulated and therefore offers little protection to the pets being sold or indeed members of the public looking to find a pet online. FOUR PAWS UK has been following the sale of animals online for the past two years, monitoring nine classified advertising sites in the UK and has found evidence of illegal activity and poor animal welfare. We are therefore extremely concerned about the lack of existing regulation to tackle this rapidly growing trade."

Under the new plans, pet shops will be required to give buyers written information about the animals they buy. FOUR PAWS UK urges the Government to make this information necessary online as well. FOUR PAWS UK would also like to see mandatory information introduced online such as the age of the animal, the type/breed of the animal and important medical information shown such as vaccination records. FOUR PAWS UK is also calling on all classified ad sites to verify the sellers identify before they are allowed to sell on the site, which would help to reduce the number of unscrupulous and illegal selling anonymously online.

Sanders continued: "Throughout our research, FOUR PAWS UK has uncovered evidence of many breeders and dealers selling a large number of litters within a year without being classified as commercial sellers. As a result, FOUR PAWS UK has for some time been calling for the number of litters per non-commercial seller to be reduced to two litters a year. While reducing it to three is a step in the right direction, we are disappointed that the Government did not go further in its reduction as recommended by FOUR PAWS UK and other animal welfare organisations, as well as the EFRA committee."
The Government's response contains other missed opportunities. For example, many animal welfare charities were calling for a ban of the third party sale of dogs, where puppies are passed onto dealers to sell, but the Government has decided not to pursue that route, even though this is how many illegal imported puppies are sold.

Sanders:"While these measures are certainly a step in the right direction, the key thing now will be how the Government goes about implementing them and ensuring that platforms and sellers alike actually observe them. For some time now there have been regulations in place to regulate the import of puppies into the UK from other parts of the EU, but a lack of enforcement coupled with minimal punishments for those caught breaking the rules has meant many puppy importers have carried on with their illegal activities. FOUR PAWS UK urges the Government to come up with a clear plan to ensure these new measures are properly enforced and are implemented as effectively as possible for the protection of both animals and consumers."

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