This petition was submitted during the 2015–2017 Conservative government

Petition To stop pet shops selling puppies in store and keeping a 'stock' of puppies.

When buying a puppy from a pet shop from 'stock' the buyer is unaware of the ancestry, health issues, how often the bitch is bred from and the conditions the parents are kept in to provide the stock. People might buy a puppy on impulse or to 'save' it. What happens to puppies that aren't sold?

More details

I went to a pet shop where they had a stock of puppies in pens and what wasn't available they could 'obtain'. In addition to the dogs on display, they had 'storage' out the back where you could hear puppies crying. Where do these puppies come from? Any responsible breeder would insist the puppies stayed with their mum until going to a home that the breeder would vet. Is it right that you can go to a pet shop for some cat food and come home with a puppy?

This petition is closed This petition ran for 6 months

11,406 signatures

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Government responded

This response was given on 29 February 2016

Defra is currently consulting on proposals to modernise the licensing of animal related activities including the regulation of pet shops and commercial dog breeding.

Read the response in full

Local authorities are required by law to license anyone selling animals as a business and dog breeders, with the aim of maintaining good standards of animal welfare.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006, which applies to all kept animals, provides powers for local authorities to enter and inspect premises in response to any welfare concerns.

The Pet Animals Act 1951 regulates the commercial selling of animals as pets. The commercial breeding and selling of dogs is regulated under the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973, the Breeding of Dogs Act 1991 and the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999. Under these licensing regimes, local authorities have powers to issue a licence to an applicant if they consider that the welfare of the animals will be of a good standard. Before issuing a licence the local authority must inspect the premises concerned. Clear guidance, and model conditions on dog breeding establishments which were updated in January 2014, are available to assist this process. A fee is charged to the applicant to cover the cost of administering the application. Local authorities have powers of entry and inspection as well as the power to refuse or revoke a licence if they consider the welfare of the animals has been compromised.

It is illegal for a licensed breeder to sell a puppy aged less than eight weeks to the public. It is also illegal for a pet shop to sell any mammal at too early an age, which we define as one that is not weaned. If there are any concerns about a specific breeder or pet shop, it should be reported to the relevant local authority who have powers to investigate and enforce the legislation. Anyone who operates a business of breeding and selling puppies must have a licence, irrespective of the numbers of litters produced at that establishment. The key test is whether the breeder is in business, and if they produce more than a single litter in a year, which under the law means there must be two bitches breeding. It is for the breeder to prove that they are not in the business of breeding dogs. If you are, you need a licence.

Pet owners can help by buying from reputable dealers and we have published advice to assist them to do this:

As part of its commitment to Better Regulation, Defra is currently conducting a cross-cutting review of licences and permits. The Government is committed to improving the effectiveness of existing regulation whilst lifting the regulatory burdens on businesses to support growth. This consultation sits within that wider review and aims to relieve the administrative burden on local authorities, simplify the application and inspection process for businesses, as well as maintain and improve existing animal welfare standards by modernising the current animal licensing system in England.

We are proposing to introduce new secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This would introduce a single ‘Animal Establishment Licence’ for animal boarding establishments, pet shops, riding establishments, and dog breeding. We want to know what you think about these proposed changes.

We expect these changes to modernise the animal licensing system by reducing the administrative burden on local authorities. They will also simplify the application and inspection process for businesses, as well as maintain and improve existing animal welfare standards.

This consultation runs from 20 December 2015 until 12 March 2016.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Other parliamentary business

Get involved with House of Commons Committee inquiry on animal welfare in relation to domestic pets

You may be interested to know that the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee is currently looking into animal welfare in relation to domestic pets, including cats, dogs and horses. It will focus on the Animal Welfare Act which places a legal obligation on owners and keepers of animals to care for them properly. The Committee wants to examine the effectiveness of the Act and its enforcement with regards to domestic animals. It will also look at whether that Act and other existing legislation remains fit for purpose in the age of the internet with regards to the sale of domestic pets.

The Committee is asking for written submissions from people on the following issues:

-The effectiveness of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 with regard to domestic pets;
-Regulation surrounding the sale of domestic pets, including online sales and advertising;
-Enforcement of current animal welfare legislation, including prosecution of offences by the police, local authorities, the RSPCA and others;
-Comparative approaches to enforcement in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

The deadline for submissions is Thursday 17 March 2016.

You can find out more about the Committee's inquiry here:

You can watch a short video about how Select Committees work here:

You can find out more about how to send a submission to a Select Committee here:

You can follow the EFRA Committee on Twitter: @CommonsEFRA

Consultation on the review of animal establishments licensing in England

In its response to this petition, the Government said that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently consulting on the review of animal establishments licensing in England. It encouraged anyone interested in this subject to take part in the consultation.

The Government has now provided us with the link to the consultation. You can find out more about the consultation and how to submit your comments here:

Please note that this consultation ends on Saturday 12 March.