Blue Cross pet charity statement in response to MP Christopher Evans adjounrment debate
Becky Thwaites, Head of Public Affairs at Blue Cross pet charity, has responded to Christopher Evans MP's puppy sales debate.
“We thank Christopher Evans MP for raising awareness of major concerns relating to puppy sales and leading a debate on this issue in parliament.
“At Blue Cross hospitals we regularly see seriously-ill pets and their devastated new owners – victims of unscrupulous breeders and sellers who prioritise profit over the welfare of the puppies or their parents, and hear real life stories of real pets who have suffered thanks to ineffective legislation. It’s heart-breaking. As a pet charity we’re working tirelessly towards improving the welfare of pets being bred and sold across the UK.
“Given the government’s plans to amend the current system of licensing for breeding and sales this debate was extremely timely.
“The debate touched on a range of issues including online sale of pets, poor welfare standards in licensed premises and the huge scale of the unlicensed trade.
“We were pleased to hear the Minister George Eustice commit that ‘the Government will be replacing existing laws on the breeding and selling of dogs with a stricter licencing regime’. However we were disappointed he failed to acknowledge the issue of enforcement in relation to the government’s plans to reform the licensing system and gave little detail on any plans for training or increased resources for local authorities.
“As our Unpicking the Knots report shows, local authority licensing officers often struggle because of a lack of training, time and resource to effectively carry out their duties. Our report highlights that 36% of licensing officers had had no training on animal welfare and yet are expected to carry out full and thorough inspections and spot potential welfare concerns.
“Our research also shows that many local authority licensing officers don’t feel that they have the time to proactively investigate unlicensed sellers. In fact 44% of local authorities didn’t conduct any investigations into unlicensed premises at all in 2015.
“Given the huge scale of the unlicensed trade, something Chris Evans MP referred to a number of times in the debate, we believe it is essential that a system of registration and licensing is introduced for everyone breeding and selling animals.
“Blue Cross would also like to see a centralised database which would ensure local authorities could better share data when it comes to large scale dealers and traders and provide a better picture of the welfare of animals being bred and sold across the UK.
“We are pleased that Members of Parliament from across the House agreed that the key to solving the problems when it comes to the breeding and selling of animals is not just new legislation but also investment in an enforcement system which will better protect the welfare of pets across the UK.”