High demand for puppies during the COVID lockdown period has led to prices doubling, with popular breeds selling for £3,000 or more. This has also encouraged more puppy farming, with puppies often being bred in appalling conditions, increasing the risk of disease and ill health.
Warwickshire Trading Standards Animal Health Officers have received reports of criminal gangs illegally smuggling puppies into the UK to sell in the run-up to Christmas, puppies being stolen and sold on, and consumers paying thousands of pounds to bogus online sellers for puppies that don’t exist.
In April 2020 ‘Lucy’s Law’ was introduced, meaning that anyone wanting to get a new puppy (or kitten) in England must now buy direct from a breeder, or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead.
Licensed dog breeders are required to show puppies interacting with their mothers in their place of birth. If a business sells puppies or kittens without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months. The new law seeks to tackle the low-welfare, high volume supply of puppies and kittens by banning their commercial third-party sale in England.
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “Demand for puppies has surged during lockdown, driving up prices and encouraging criminals to enter this marketplace.”
Consumers are advised to only buy a puppy from rom a reputable and recommended dealer; to always view the puppy with its mother and siblings, where it has been bred; to ask to see vaccination documentation; and never to pay for a puppy in advance.