Posted: Wed 7th Oct 2020

RSPCA welcomes Welsh Govt pledge on ‘Lucy’s Law’ but Conservatives call for introduction to be accelerated

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2020

Wales is set to bring in a new law banning third party puppy and kitten sales.

The move will be a major step towards ending the low-welfare, high volume supply of puppies through so-called puppy farms which operate in poor conditions.

Once passed ‘Lucy’s Law’ will mean that anyone wanting to get a new puppy or kitten in Wales will need to buy direct from a breeder, or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead.

Lucy’s Law is named after a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which was recused from a puppy farm in the country five years ago.

When the five-year-old was found, she had a number of severe health conditions, but went on to be rehomed and inspired a movement to change legislation.

The RSPCA has welcomed confirmation from the Welsh Government that a ban on the commercial third party selling of puppies and kittens will be introduced before the end of the Welsh Parliamentary term.

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, confirmed the news in a written statement to Members of the Senedd yesterday (5 October).

It follows a public consultation on the issue, which found that 98 percent of respondents backed a ban on third party selling in Wales.

Without a ban, the RSPCA fears early separation from mothers, being moved to unfamiliar environments and multiple journeys will continue to compromise the welfare of puppies and kittens.

It is anticipated that any change in law would likely mean anybody looking to buy a puppy or kitten would need to deal either directly with the dealer, or through an animal rehoming or rescue centre.

RSPCA Cymru has long campaigned for such a ban to come into force. However, the animal welfare charity has called for an holistic approach to improving the welfare of dogs and cats in Wales – highlighting that banning third party sales is not a “panacea”.

The news follows recommendations made by the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group to further improve dog breeding laws – which the RSPCA have welcomed.

RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said: “It’s great to see the Welsh Government reaffirm their commitment that a ban on the third party selling of puppies and kittens will be brought forward before the end of this Senedd term.

“Sadly, we know early separation from mothers, strange environments and unnecessary transport can cause serious welfare issues for young pups and kittens – so a ban is really welcome. A huge 98 percent of consultation respondents backed this move – which is a ringing endorsement for action.

“Nevertheless, we know a ban alone won’t be a panacea to improving standards of dog and cat welfare in Wales. A hybrid, holistic approach will be critical to drive up standards and shake off Wales’ reputation for poor breeding and trading practices for pups.

“The RSPCA continues to call for the Welsh Government to revisit the threshold of the staff-to-dog ratio at dog breeding establishments, to better resource local authorities to enforce breeding laws, and to consider new laws around cat identification and breeding.

“We know the Welsh Government has pledged that this ban will look very different to the one in England – and we look forward to working with them in the hope that this new law transforms welfare standards for young dogs and cats, and helps inform the public about sourcing pets responsibility and from reputable sources.”

The consultation also found that 96% of respondents supported closer scrutiny of Wales’ animal welfare establishments – often known as sanctuaries. This follows the Welsh Government’s recent publication of a voluntary code of practice for sanctuaries, published by the Animal Welfare Network for Wales.

Mr Bowles added: “It’s really positive to see such strong support for better regulatory oversight and scrutiny of animal sanctuaries in Wales.

“The Welsh Government publishing a new voluntary code of practice for sanctuaries is a recent leap forward – and we’ll be closely monitoring its effectiveness across Wales.

“But we continue to support the regulation of sanctuaries in Wales – to help ensure higher standards of welfare and to give the public confidence about these establishments, which often do such invaluable work for pets, farm animals and wildlife – but clearly need more scrutiny to ensure consistency across the board.”

Janet Finch-Saunders MS – the Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs, and Welsh Conservative spokesperson on Animal Welfare – has called for the introduction of the law to be accelerated in Wales.

Lucy’s Law came into force in England in April, Mrs Finch-Saunders said:

“It’s clear that the Welsh Labour-led Government has been dragging its heels compared to England over animal welfare, specifically Lucy’s Law.

“Existing regulations in Wales are ineffective, and there has been a serious lack of enforcement here, and so I am calling on the government to accelerate the introduction of the legislation to end puppy farming in Wales.

“Every day that the legislation to shut down puppy and kitten farms is not enacted is another day that animals are left to suffer. This is unacceptable in a modern Wales.”

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