Thank you to the dozens of constituents who recently contacted me about the breeding and sale of puppies- many through the Justice for Reggie campaign which I have followed closely.
I know that people feel very strongly about this issue, and I believe in a vision where no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation and where we continue to drive up standards and practice.
I support increasing the minimum age for puppies being imported into Great Britain to six months. I believe there is an urgency to act on puppy smuggling which is aided and encouraged by legal importation of motherless puppies from irresponsible breeders, such as puppy farms. In my view, penalties for engaging in these cruel practices are far too weak and I do not think the Government has acted quickly enough to take proper action over puppy smuggling.
I also believe microchipping is a cheap, easy and safe procedure. Compulsory microchipping makes sense but it is only part of the solution if we do not also require compulsory checking of the microchip once it is in an animal. The Government states it will respond to its consultation on these subjects in the autumn.
It has introduced the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill which includes powers to make regulations about the age of animals imported into Great Britain. No date has been set for the Bill’s Second Reading but I will follow developments on this.
The Government also runs its Petfished campaign to advise what owners should look for when buying and rescuing pets. It states local authorities have the powers to issue or refuse breeding licences and revoke those who do not meet strict statutory minimum welfare standards.
The Pet Advertising Advisory Group, endorsed by the Government, has a minimum set of standards to guide classified advertising websites to identify poor or bad adverts.
More widely, I am pleased that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was passed earlier this year and, as of 29 June 2021, the maximum penalty for animal cruelty is now five years rather than six months. This is a good step for animal welfare and sends a strong message to perpetrators that animal abuse will not be tolerated in this country.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue.