Posted: Thu 4th Mar 2021

RSPCA Cymru concern that rescue puppies and kittens may face ‘unnecessary wait’ for new homes

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Mar 4th, 2021

RSPCA Cymru is concerned that rescued puppies and kittens saved from situations of abandonment, cruelty and neglect in Wales may not be able to find new homes for many weeks and months – due to a worrying omission from an otherwise welcome new law. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This week, the Welsh Government relaid the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Wales) Regulations 2021 – a long-awaited law which will ban the third party sale of puppies and kittens in Wales. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Under the proposals, anyone who wants to sell pets in Wales has to meet minimum animal welfare standards for the first time, with a new licensing scheme introduced for pet sellers. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Notably, the law also states that puppies or kittens under six months of age not bred by the licence holder cannot be sold. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

However, the law contains no exemption for rescue organisations to rehome puppies and kittens sooner, despite such animal welfare groups not constituting third party sellers. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

That means puppies or kittens rescued by the RSPCA in Wales could not be rehomed until they are six months of age – unlike in England, where they can be rehomed from the age of eight weeks. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The RSPCA would only rehome a young pup or kitten where safe and in the interests of the animal. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Members of the Senedd will vote on the new law on 23 March, and the RSPCA has urged the Welsh Government to provide clarity of its plans for young rescue puppies and kittens that find themselves in rescue centres, or in the care of animal welfare groups. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

David Bowles, the RSPCA’s head of public affairs, said: “A ban on the third party sale of puppies and kittens is really important – and something the RSPCA has long called for. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Unnecessary transportation, poor standards and being taken from mothers too early is sadly a grim reality for many pups and kittens subject to third party sale – and it’s very welcome that this law plans to tackle that; in what we hope is the first step to better regulate animal-related activities in Wales. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“However, rescue organisations are not third party sellers. This law would mean rescue puppies and kittens coming into the care of organisations like the RSPCA could not be rehomed until they were six months of age – which we don’t believe was ever the intention of this law; designed instead to catch unscrupulous puppy and kitten dealers. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This could make a challenging climate even harder for many animal rescues; and may often not be in the best interests of the puppy or kitten if a suitable home was available and they were made to face an unnecessary wait. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“RSPCA Cymru has long called for the regulation of animal welfare establishments in Wales – offering vital safeguards to the public about animal sanctuaries and centres; so this isn’t about opposing regulation. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“But puppies and kittens rescued from abandonment, abuse or neglect by our officers – with no mother to be seen – now face an agonising wait for a new home and the possibility of more time in the kennel environment. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

We’re seeking urgent clarification from the Welsh Government on this; in what would otherwise be a welcome addition to Wales’ legislative framework for animals.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

More information on the RSPCA’s efforts to improve puppy welfare – including the new #ForPupsSake campaign to stop puppy imports – can be found on the charity’s website. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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