Letter to Lord Gardiner of Kimble: Puppy Sales

Lord Gardiner of Kimble
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

Ref: ML.MA.C0102.CM.12.12.16
Date: 12th December 2016


Dear Lord Gardiner,


RE: Third party sale of puppies

I am writing to urge you to put an end to inhumane and cruel puppy farming in the UK, through introducing a ban on third party sales of puppies, i.e. by anyone other than the breeder (or adoption from reputable rescue centre). Such a ban is the only meaningful way to put an end to puppy farming and dealing, which mass produces puppies for profit, with no thought for the health or welfare of the puppy or their parents.

The Select Committee for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs recently made a clear recommendation to ban third party sales of puppies, based on a rigorous and evidence based inquiry into the animal welfare of domestic pets. The Committee acknowledged the cruelty involved in the practice of puppy farming and dealing, saying that the “process of selling through a third party seller has an unavoidable negative impact upon the welfare of puppies” because it distances the buyer from the puppy’s breeding environment and prevents public scrutiny of breeders.

Despite the scientifically proven harm suffered by both puppies and breeding bitches, puppy farming and dealing/selling enabled via third parties continues to remain legal. DEFRA recommends prospective dog owners to “Always see the puppy with its mother” whilst at the same time issuing pet shop licenses for third party sellers (high street pet shops, dealers, individuals, businesses) to sell puppies without their mothers. This contradiction means DEFRA’s advice is all too often impossible to follow.

Third party sales have been proven to not only be detrimental to the welfare of both puppy and its mother –the results are often challenging and heart-breaking for owners too. Families, who may be unknowingly buying farmed puppies as Christmas gifts in the coming weeks, could find their new puppy becomes aggressive from a lack of previous social interaction, or becomes ill from the poor conditions in which it was bred, resulting in costly vet bills or even the death of the pet.   

There is sufficient evidence that the trade unlikely to go underground (for the simple reason that to sell sufficient numbers of puppies, vendors have to advertise widely through channels that are highly visible thus exposing their activities). Moreover, there’s evidence that further licensing will not only continue to legitimise cruelty, but also make this appalling practice much worse. I, therefore, wholeheartedly agree with the EFRA Committee, as well as MP colleagues from across the political spectrum and the general public, that the only way to end the UK’s puppy farming scandal is to ban third party sales.

I urge you to take action now and commit to banning third party sales of puppies in 2017 in your response to the Committee’s report, and to enact this commitment with urgent legislation to remove the ‘chain’ from breeder to owner, thus making the whole puppy buying process transparent and breeders fully accountable.

I look forward to your timely response.

Yours sincerely,




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