What you need to know to buy a puppy responsibly

24th September 2018

The UK Government recently announced plans to bring in new legislation – commonly known as ‘Lucy’s Law’ – which will impose restrictions on where and how people can buy puppies and kittens.

In order to protect animals from heartless breeders and abusive third-party sellers, pet shops, online sellers and third-party dealers in England are now to be banned from selling puppies and kittens which are less than six months old.

Most people who buy or adopt dogs or cats from pet shops or breeders are unaware of the sometimes harsh and abusive treatment pets are subjected to.

Larna Mason, legal adviser at DAS Law, provides us with the key facts on the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, which come into force on 1st October 2018.

The regulations introduce new licensing requirements for dog breeders and gives power to local authorities to ensure the regulations are adhered to. The aim is to improve the welfare of animals and to try and tackle and stamp out unscrupulous ‘puppy farming’.

Is it now against the law to buy a puppy from a friend or neighbour?

The regulations mean that anyone selling or breeding puppies for profit will need to be licensed.This could even apply to a friend or neighbour if they are making a profit from the sale of the puppy.

How do I know if a breeder is licensed?

Licensed breeders or sellers will have to display information on their adverts about their licence, including their licence number and the name of the local authority that issued it. The puppy’s age and a clear photograph also have to be included in any advert.

Furthermore, a licensed breeder should have no problem in answering any questions or concerns you may have, whilst an unlicensed breeder may typically be more evasive.

If you have any concerns about whether or not a breeder is licensed then contact the local authority.

What do the regulations say about puppy sales? Can I still purchase online?

The regulations say that the sale of a puppy must take place in the presence of the buyer meaning that online sales should no longer take place.

There is nothing to say that advertising cannot still continue online but the actual transaction must be done in person and on the premises where the puppy has been kept. The breeder should also show the puppy alongside the mother before a sale is made.

What if I’ve bought a puppy from an unregistered breeder?

If you find that you have bought a puppy from an unregistered breeder then you should report the breeder to the local authority. Depending on the circumstances, you could have a breach of contract claim against the breeder so you should seek legal advice immediately.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.

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