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Sale of puppies in pet shops may be banned in crackdown!

He has been called many things during his time as a minister, but now Michael Gove may be able to add another moniker: saviour of puppies.

The environment secretary has announced that the government is considering a ban on the sale of puppies in pet shops, and he unveiled measures to crack down on unscrupulous puppy breeders.

A ban would mean anyone buying or adopting a dog would deal directly with the breeder or an animal rehousing centre.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched a call for evidence on the proposed ban. Last year the department concluded that a ban on third-party sales would lead to the creation of an illegal market, after hearing evidence from the Dogs Trust and Blue Cross.

Paula Boyden, a veterinary director for the Dogs Trust, said “crucial steps” had to be taken before any ban was introduced, to prevent unscrupulous puppy farmers from setting up unregulated rehoming centres or bogus sanctuaries.

“Licensing and inspection of dog breeders and sellers must also be stronger to ensure that everyone involved in the trade is on the radar of local authorities,” she said. “The government must tackle these loopholes now so we can be confident a ban will be the success we all want to see.”

The RSPCA’s deputy chief executive, Chris Wainwright, said the organisation was delighted that Defra was considering a ban on third-party sales of puppies. “We have always said that an end to third-party sales alone would not be enough to end the puppy trade crisis, and we are pleased that this is being looked at alongside enhanced licensing conditions for breeders which will come into force later this year,” he said.

Gove said the government was cracking down on rogue puppy sellers, including the breeding of dogs with genetic disorders. “We need to do everything we can to make sure the nation’s much-loved pets get the right start in life,” he said. “This is a further step to raise the bar on animal welfare standards. We are also introducing mandatory CCTV in all slaughterhouses and increasing maximum prison sentences tenfold for animal abusers.”

Under new rules to take effect later this year, breeders and sellers must be licensed and will be banned from selling puppies and kittens under eight weeks old. Puppies will have to be shown alongside their mothers, and sales will have to be completed in person with the new owner present. Dog breeders will only be able to sell puppies they have bred themselves.

Defra’s call for evidence on the ban on third-party sales of puppies closes on 2 May.

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