The UK Government has announced plans to target puppy farms and smugglers in an attempt to reduce the number of animals living in appalling breeding conditions.
The plan would ban the sale of puppies and kittens by commercial dealers – including pet shops.
Anyone buying or adopting a pet less than six months old obliged to deal directly with the breeder or rescue centre.
Animal welfare charities have warned that the illegal trade in puppies across the Irish Sea is a “major issue” with thousands of dogs smuggled into Britain from Ireland every year.
The RSPCA has warned that many of the dogs are bred at large-scale puppy farms in Ireland before being smuggled to Britain where they can be sold on at “huge profit.”
Image: Scottish SPCA
Now, the UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has said the British government will back a law that makes it illegal to buy or adopt a puppy from anyone other than a licensed breeder or animal re-homing centre.
"What we want to do is to try to make sure that anyone who has a pet will know that that puppy has been brought up in the right circumstances," said Mr Gove.
"That means we are seeking to outlaw third party sales and say that you can only buy a puppy from a legitimate breeder, someone that you can visit, that you can see that puppy alongside their mum so that you know that animal has been brought up in a caring environment."
In Ireland, the Government announced updated guidelines for dog breeders.
The new regulations are set to come into force in January 2019 and will include the introduction of unannounced inspections of dog breeding establishments.
The regulations also include a strengthening of provisions for animal welfare, new breeding limits and minimum kennels sizes.
They also provided greater clarity on the proper socialisation of pups, rules for staff to animal ratios and stricter regulations regarding registration and record keeping.
The rules have been brought in to combat Ireland’s reputation as the “puppy farm capital of Europe” following a number of documentaries highlighting horrific conditions in illegal Irish breeding farms.