Battersea welcomes Government’s new crackdown on cruel and irresponsible puppy trade

Leading animal welfare charity Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has today welcomed the Government’s new proposals to crack down on cruel and irresponsible pet breeding practices.

Battersea has long campaigned for an end to the suffering it sees - exhausted breeding bitches and their sick and under-socialised puppies sadly come through its doors all too often. The new measures the Government is introducing in Parliament today answer these calls, banning the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks old and introducing compulsory licensing for anyone producing three or more litters a year.

Claire Horton, Battersea's Chief Executive, said: "The measures the Government propose today have the potential to transform the way vulnerable animals are treated even before they are born.  From tackling underage puppy sales, to the deliberate and irresponsible breeding of dogs with genetic disorders, to requiring the new owner to be present when a dog is sold.

"These proposals have the power to raise welfare standards across the puppy trade, which is welcome news for puppies, their mothers and their owners. We hope this important change to new legislation will help end the misery for thousands of breeding bitches that are either killed or cast out by unscrupulous breeders once they are past their sell-by date, as well as the sick and dying puppies sold to unwitting owners.”

Battersea is currently caring for Cherry, a Pug cross rescued as a stray. When the two-year-old came through Battersea’s doors, she was in a terrible condition, with sore and infected skin and eyes.  Her mammary glands were swollen, and she was still producing milk – a sure sign that she had produced a litter very recently, although no puppies were with her.

The Government has also announced a call for evidence on a ban on third party sales which would mean that anyone looking to adopt a dog would deal directly with the breeder.

Claire Horton continued: "At Battersea, we support the idea of a ban on third party sales, which would make breeders directly accountable directly to the public for the conditions in which puppies are bred and kept. However, there are some practical issues with the scope and enforcement of such a ban, and we welcome the Government taking evidence on how it should proceed.  Battersea remains eager to assist.

"For too long, unscrupulous breeders and dealers have been passing on poorly bred underage and under-socialised and often sick puppies to an unsuspecting public. Today's announcement could signal the beginning of the end of this cruel practice and the beginning of the end to the misery suffered by dogs like Cherry.”

Battersea’s End Backstreet Breeding campaign was launched in 2015 and called for a ban on the sale of puppies under eight weeks old, and for those producing two or more litters a year to require a license.

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For more information please contact 020 7627 9332 or email press@battersea.org.uk

Notes to editors

  • Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society. 
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • In 2016 the Home cared for over 7,000 dogs and cats.
  • Battersea cares for an average of 270 dogs and 200 cats across its three centres at any one time.
  • There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at the charity but the average stay for a dog is 35 days and 22 days for a cat.
  • In 2016 26% of dogs and 32% of cats arrived as strays.
  • In addition to the site in South West London, the Home also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
  • For further information on Battersea Dogs & Cats Home please visit www.battersea.org.uk.
  • Follow Battersea on Twitter @BDCH or facebook.com/Battersea