RSPCA Cymru has cautiously welcomed new Welsh government regulations to end third-party sales of young puppies and kittens.
According to the proposals, anyone wishing to sell pets in Wales must meet minimum animal welfare standards for the first time, with a new licensing regime introduced for sellers of pets. This establishes that puppies or kittens less than six months old not bred by the license holder cannot be sold.
The law also states that puppies, kittens, ferrets or rabbits cannot be sold until they are at least eight weeks old – while local authorities in Wales will need to provide more data on the number of licensed establishments in a locality; ensure a better understanding of the animal welfare situation across the country.
Licenses must be renewed annually and are based on existing animal welfare legislation – meaning how the sellers treat their animals and comply with animal welfare law will be a central consideration for the granting of a license to a vendor.
However, the animal welfare charity is seeking assurance that rescue centers that relocate animals will be exempt from the decision – to ensure rescued puppies and kittens can continue to be relocated.
There are also concerns that the regulations may not address potential loopholes – as seen since a similar ban went into effect in England in April 2020, including third-party sellers reinventing themselves as bailouts or claiming to have raised puppies and kittens in another country to circumvent the ban.
Senedd members will vote on the law in the coming weeks – and the RSPCA believes the regulations that come into effect in September must be “the last step in a broad and holistic journey” to improving puppy welfare and puppies. kittens in Wales.
RSPCA Public Affairs Officer David Bowles said: âThe release of this new law is an important moment for puppies and kittens in Wales. Wales is the center of dog breeding in the UK, many of which are bred to poor existing standards, we welcome the law which requires anyone who commercially sells an animal to meet minimum welfare standards.
“We also welcome the commitment to ban the sale of puppies and kittens by third parties, but we are concerned that the lessons of this ban in England have not been learned and that unscrupulous dealers may continue to operate. .
“Poor breeding and rearing conditions, unnecessary transport and being taken from mothers too early are sadly a sad reality for many puppies and kittens – and the ban on third party sales will be a problem. important event to prevent these young animals from being subjected to such situations.
“We welcome the commitment of local authorities to release data on licensed sellers in their area – a first in the UK. The annual license renewal will mean regular on-site checks and more information than ever on the number of profit-making pet sellers in different parts of Wales.
âEnforcement will be key to ensuring this law raises animal welfare standards, especially for dog breeding, across Wales.
“However, we are asking for clarification that rescue centers – which often save puppies and kittens from situations of neglect, cruelty and abuse – will be exempt from this ban; so that rescued animals can be relocated. once it is safe and appropriate to do so.
‘If rescue centers are exempt, we also urge the Welsh government to consider plans like those proposed in Scotland – which aim to prevent existing third-party vendors from reinventing themselves as rescues and exploiting a potential loophole in the law .
“We look forward to working with the Welsh government, members of the Senedd and local authorities before and after the passage of this new law. It is expected to come into force in September, which will be the last stop on what must be a journey. broad and holistic to improve the welfare of puppies and kittens in Wales.
More information on the RSPCA’s efforts to improve puppy welfare – including the new #ForPupsSake campaign to stop puppy imports – is available on the association’s website.