Statement on puppies and kittens being sold in pet shops

Battersea confirms its previously stated belief that puppies and kittens should not be sold in pet shops, and has long campaigned against the practice. This is why we argued for, and later welcomed the Government’s commitment on 2 February to close loopholes which allowed for puppies under eight weeks to be sold to pet shops and “dealers”, as well as tighter regulation on breeding establishments.

Poorly regulated pet shops are the route to market for puppies and kittens from puppy farms and from third party dealers. Sold for a quick profit, too easily bought on impulse, and separated from their mother far too early, these pets can suffer lifelong health and welfare problems as a result of such early mistreatment. This is wrong, and it must stop.

Battersea supports the intention behind a ban on third party sales of puppies and kittens, namely the end of a trade that is bringing untold misery to thousands of puppies and breeding bitches by foisting unhealthy, unsocialised animals onto an unsuspecting public. However, what isn’t yet clear is how to overcome the multiple obstacles which could prevent such a ban from achieving its objectives, not least of which the question of where the resources would come from for competent and consistent enforcement. In December 2016 we proposed that a working group is set up, consisting of the Government, welfare groups and campaigners, to identify exactly how such a ban could be made viable, workable and, above all, enforceable.

The Government has proposed greater regulation of pet sales, including a welcome requirement that all pet adverts must contain the seller’s licence details, and Battersea believes that this can potentially make a significant difference and offer greater transparency around the sale of animals. We will work with the Government to ensure that welfare lies at the heart of their proposals announced on 2 February.

Battersea would encourage anyone interested in getting a puppy to visit a rescue centre, where they can receive expert advice on how best to take on the responsibility for an animal, making it as smooth and enjoyable as possible. If they are determined to buy a puppy, then they should visit only a reputable breeder and always insist on seeing the animal interact with its mother. If you are suspicious that the welfare of the animals may be in danger, please contact the RSPCA.