After years of campaigning (and one of the fastest-growing e-petitions ever launched) Lucy’s Law is about to become a reality. Announced last December, the legislation to end puppy farming will be laid in Parliament today, Monday 13 May, as Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced.

Named after Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was rescued from a puppy farm where she was used for breeding, the law will make third-party puppy and kitten sales illegal – meaning that anyone seeking to buy a puppy will need to buy directly from the breeder rather than going through a pet shop or a dealer.

This is a blow to the cruel practice of puppy farming, with breeding dogs living in cages to churn out litter after litter in unsanitary conditions, only to have the puppies taken away too young to be sold on to the unsuspecting public. This practice not only spells misery for the breeding dogs, but it also causes lifelong socialisation issues for the puppy or kitten, as well as a number of preventable diseases.

By taking away the middle man these unscrupulous breeders hide behind, Lucy’s Law will deal a devastating blow to their trade.
The ban will also deter puppy smugglers who abuse the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) by bringing underage puppies into the UK which are then sold on for financial gain.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said, “This is about giving our animals the best possible start in life and making sure that no other animal suffers the same fate as Lucy. It will put an end to the early separation of puppies and kittens from their mothers, as well as the terrible conditions in which some of these animals are bred.

“I would like to thank the tireless campaigners and animal lovers who have helped to bring about this positive change.

“This is all part of our plan to make this country the best place in the world for the protection and care of animals.”

Marc Abraham, founder of Pup Aid, has been working towards this ban for years and was at the forefront of Lucy’s Law campaign. He said, “I’m absolutely thrilled that Lucy’s Law is now being laid in Parliament and will come into effect from April 2020. For years irresponsible breeders in the UK and abroad, so-called puppy farmers, have depended on commercial third party sellers – e.g. dealers and pet shops – to keep their breeding dogs and puppies in horrific conditions hidden from the public.

“Lucy’s Law is named after one of the sweetest, bravest dogs I’ve ever known, and is a fitting tribute to all the victims of the cruel third party puppy trade, both past and present.

“On behalf of my fellow grassroots campaigners I’d like to thank Mr Gove, Defra officials, and every single supporter, parliamentarian, celebrities, and ethical animal welfare organisation that has proudly helped make Lucy’s Law a reality.”

Peter Egan, Downton Abbey actor, animal welfare campaigner, and Patron of the All-Party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group (APDAWG) in Westminster, was also pleased to hear the news.

“Lucy’s Law is the most exciting change in animal welfare legislation for years,” he said. “Commercial third party sellers enable and encourage irresponsible and exploitative breeding and selling practices e.g. impulse purchases and smuggled puppies, leading to widespread cruelty, sick breeding dogs and their pups, and heartache for new owners.

“Lucy’s Law will help make all breeders transparent and therefore accountable. This historic change in legislation is the first major step in tackling puppy farm cruelty and illegal puppy smuggling, whilst also providing greater public protection.

“As the proud owner of five rescue dogs I’m extremely proud to support Lucy’s Law as it will help protect the future health and welfare of this country’s dogs and cats.”

Animal welfare charities – including the RSPCA, Mayhew and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home – also welcomed the announcement.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said, “Every year, the RSPCA’s officers see first-hand the devastating impact that the unscrupulous puppy trade has on dogs and their owners. Last year (2018) was the busiest year yet for our inspectors who received 4,397 complaints about the puppy trade in England alone – a 162% increase on five years ago.

“We hope this ban – alongside the tougher licensing regulations that were introduced in October – will help to stamp out the underground trade that exploits these wonderful animals simply to make a quick buck.”

Claire Horton, Chief Executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said, “Each year thousands of puppies are bred in terrible conditions and then sold for large sums of money to unsuspecting members of the public. A lot of these young pups will be sickly and under-socialised, leading to high vet bills and behavioural issues that a lot of new owners are sadly not able to deal with.

“Once these new regulations are approved, owners will have far greater reassurance that their new pet is happy and healthy, whether they buy from a responsible breeder or from a rescue centre such as Battersea.”

Caroline Yates, CEO at Mayhew, added, “We hope this legislation will also encourage potential pet owners to first think about visiting their local rehoming shelters when searching for a puppy or dog, cat or kitten to adopt into their families.”

Lucy’s Law will come into force on 6 April 2020, giving industry and consumers time to prepare for the change.

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