You are here:

Our campaign to tackle the irresponsible breeding and sale of pets


We recognise there are huge problems with the breeding and sale of all pets whether that is through pet shops, breeders or online. We help tens of thousands of sick and unwanted animals every year and are only too familiar with the suffering these pets often face from unscrupulous and unethical breeders and sellers. This is why we have campaigned long and hard for a complete overhaul of the current breeding and selling legislation across the UK.

Third party sales

A ban on the third party sales of puppies, as recommended by the EFRA committee, will not solve the issue of poor welfare standards in puppy breeding and would be impossible to enforce with local authority resources already stretched to their limits. Without enough welfare-minded dog breeders to meet the very high demand for puppies in the UK, there is a risk that a ban would also cause the illegal puppy trade to flourish.  

With no means of ensuring the welfare of the pets in this invisible trade, buyers would be even more at risk of ending up with sick pets bred in poor conditions. Additionally, any exemptions for rehoming charities could open up a loophole for unscrupulous breeders to set themselves up as ‘rescue organisations’.

We believe the most effective way to tackle and improve the breeding and sale of dogs and puppies is to introduce an effective registration and licensing system. This would make breeders and sellers more visible and traceable, improving animal welfare and offering greater protection for the public when buying a puppy.

We did not actively campaign or lobby government on third party sales. Our lobbying focuses on Blue Cross campaign priorities. We did produce a joint position with Dogs Trust that set out our stand on third party sales (as outlined above) and this was sent to Defra.

Our proposal to stop the suffering of puppies and breeding parents

Based on research Blue Cross undertook last year, we asked the government for:

  • A registration and licensing system for anyone breeding or selling animals through any means: from home breeders to large scale breeding establishments, pet shops and online sellers
  • An easily accessible centralised and transparent database of anyone breeding and selling animals. A database would increase accountability by providing greater visibility to the authorities resulting in improved animal welfare and increased consumer power
  • Urgent action to be taken to update the Pet Animals Act 1951 to take into account the huge problems associated with the online sale of pets
  • Improved legislation relating to the breeding and sale of dogs to ensure welfare and socialisation are essential priorities for all breeders

We believe these recommendations would ultimately be more effective than a ban on third party sales.

Our veterinary and rehoming teams work hard on the frontline helping tens of thousands of dogs, cats, horses and small pets every single year. That is why we will continue to help and treat those who arrive at our hospitals and lobby for politicians to make a change that will really benefit the lives of all pets.

Useful links

— Page last updated Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 11:10