Lucy’s Law has finally come into effect in England, banning puppy farms and commercial third-party sales of dogs and kittens.
The long-sought-after legislation is named after a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lucy, who was thankfully adopted after being subjected to horrific conditions in a puppy farm (she later died in 2016).
Under the new bill, people acquiring a new pet must purchase directly from a licensed dog breeder – who’ll be required to show puppies interacting with their mother in their place of birth – or alternatively adopt from a rescue centre.
Unlicensed breeders and businesses will now face unlimited fines or up to six months in prison. In addition to Lucy’s Law, the government has also raised the maximum prison sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years, pledging to hammer down on mistreatment of sentient animals.
Lord Goldsmith, Animal Welfare Minister, said:
Today is a significant milestone for animal welfare, and a major step towards ending cruel puppy farming and smuggling. After all the hard work of Marc Abraham and the Lucy’s Law campaign, I’m so pleased that we finally have this crucial legislation which will help tackle the heart-breaking third-party trade of dogs and cats.
Puppy farms are a hotbed for abused, troubled animals who have suffered at the hands of breeders – left in horrendous conditions without proper care or due diligence. This leads to aspiring dog-owners buying pets from pet shops or dealers that have a legacy of medical or behavioural issues that cause greater problems later in life. Now, breeders are accountable.
The enforcement of Lucy’s Law comes off the back of Marc Abraham’s efforts – a vet, author and founder of Pup Aid who has commandeered the campaign for the past decade (supported by a number of high-profile figures, including Ricky Gervais, Brian May and Rachel Riley).
Abraham said of the legislation:
I’m incredibly proud to have led the 10-year campaign to ban cruel puppy and kitten dealers and to get this essential Lucy’s Law legislation over the line. I’d like to give a huge thanks to UK Government for passing this law, as well as every animal-loving parliamentarian, celebrity, welfare organisation, and member of the public that supported us.
Lucy was an incredibly brave dog, and it’s right that her memory is honoured with such an important piece of legislation to help end puppy farm cruelty; protecting breeding dogs just like her, as well as cats, their young, and also unsuspecting animal-lovers from the dangers of irresponsible breeding and cruel puppy and kitten dealers.
It’s also hoped the new law will ease the compulsion of people looking to buy a pet during isolation. According to The Kennel Club, searches via its ‘find a puppy’ tool soared by 53% between February and March, just shortly before compulsory social distancing measures were put in place across the UK.
Holly Conway, head of public affairs at The Kennel Club, told The Guardian that ‘preventing suffering caused by quick, careless decisions and deceptive, profit-hungry puppy farmers is what Lucy’s law is all about’.
Animal welfare is a devolved power in the UK, therefore Lucy’s Law is only in effect in England. However, campaign efforts are ramping up for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow suit.
For further information on how to buy a pet safely and the warning signs one should look out for, please see the government advice here.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]