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From 6th April 2020 onwards, a new law will come into being in the UK that forbids the third-party sales of puppies and kittens under the age of six months old. The law also mandates that puppies and kittens must be born and raised in a safe and appropriate environment under the care of their own dam or queen, and that they must be sold from the place where they were born rather than being sold by a middleman, or third party premises.
Ultimately, this means that breeders and sellers of puppies and kittens cannot sell their litters on to a pet shop, reseller or anyone else who intends to resell the animals for commercial gain or serve as an interim agent.
It also means that puppy and kitten buyers have a role to play in ensuring that the seller of the puppies or kittens in question is in compliance with the law, and does not attempt to circumvent it.
In this article we will outline what Lucy’s Law is and how it will apply in practice, and explain why this new restriction was brought into being in the first place. Read on to learn more.
Summed up in its simplest form, Lucy’s Law will prevent the selling of puppies or kittens by people other than the persons that bred the animals in question, and from their home premises. It means that they can’t sell their animals to someone else who in turn intends to resell them, nor use an agent or third party to care for the litter elsewhere whilst awaiting sale.
The mother of the litter must be with the litter when they are shown and sold, and the sale has to take place at the breeder’s premises, where the litter was born and raised.
This means that puppy and kitten sales to pet shops for sale to the public won’t be legal, and it will also help to support the end of unscrupulous puppy farming where using interim homes and agents to show litters and mislead buyers into the circumstances of the litter’s birth is commonplace.
Lucy’s Law is the culmination of many years of campaigning by animal welfare groups and activists seeking to improve the health and welfare of companion animals in the UK, and stamp out puppy farming and other unscrupulous breeding practices.
Lucy’s Law was named after a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Lucy, who was poorly treated under the care of a puppy farm in Wales and that ultimately died in 2016 as a result of unscrupulous breeding practices and inappropriate care.
The law is designed to prevent unscrupulous breeders producing litters of puppies or kittens for profit and without due regard for the health, welfare and natural needs of the animals in question, and to stop people who use the Pet Travel Scheme inappropriately to import young puppies and kittens of unknown provenance from abroad into the UK for sale.
Before Lucy’s Law passed into law, it went through a number of revisions and was ultimately made the subject of a public consultation in which members of the public were asked to weigh in, which resulted in the overwhelming support of over 95% of respondents to the consultation being in favour of the ban.
If you breed puppies or kittens responsibly and with the best interests of your own animals and the species as a whole in mind, Lucy’s Law is highly unlikely to have any impact upon you.
However, for breeders that use agents, third party businesses or other outside persons to sell the litters or showcase them away from their original or normal home, this will no longer be possible.
Third-party sales of puppies and kittens (sales by a person other than their original breeder and owner) are commonly undertaken by puppy farmers, backyard breeders and others with something to hide, because there is no legitimate reason why a litter should not be under the care of its own dam or queen in its own home, and under the direct care of its real owner and breeder.
Lucy’s Law is designed to place an obstacle in the path of unscrupulous animal sellers like puppy farmers and backyard breeders who seek to make money even at the cost of the welfare of the animals involved.
Puppy farming and backyard breeding is still a big problem within the UK despite the dog buying public’s general awareness of it, and such puppy and kitten sellers often go to great lengths to convince prospective buyers that their animals are pets and companions and not production-line assets in the eyes of the breeders.
By putting a law into place that prevents sellers from doing things like moving a litter to a domestic home for viewings instead of having them viewed in the place where they normally live, this makes life harder for puppy farmers and would-be unscrupulous breeders to continue to do business.
High-volume breeders and puppy farmers are usually heavily reliant on third parties to show and sell their stock and to convince prospective buyers that everything is above board, and the advent of Lucy’s Law goes a long way towards preventing this, and penalising those who flout the law.
However, for Lucy’s Law to work in practice, prospective puppy and kitten buyers need to be vigilant to the signs that they are being misled and that something might not be quite right when contacting breeders and viewing litters – and be willing to report breeders where something is amiss.
You can learn more about identifying puppy farms and how to tell if a puppy seller is telling the truth about their dog’s origins in this article, and a lot of the guidance within it applies equally to prospective kitten buyers too.
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