Several high-profile celebrities including George Michael, Twiggy Lawson and Jo Brand have requested for tougher laws on pet welfare to be imposed on pet shops and breeding establishments which, according to a new report by the Blue Cross, titled Unpicking the knots: the case for a more cohesive approach to pet welfare legislation, are at risk of falling massively below standards and ethical requirements. In response to the report calls for new laws to improve the welfare of future pets was published in an open letter featured in The Times last week, with a particular focus on ensuring that local authorities are both trained and equipped to recognise problems in the breeding and pet-selling community.
Becky Thwaites, Head of Public Affairs for Blue Cross, said, “At Blue Cross we regularly see seriously ill pets and their devastated new owners - victims of unscrupulous breeders and sellers who prioritise profit over welfare. A lack of standardised inspection procedures or training for licensing officers combined with budget cuts means that many local authorities are struggling to cope, making it difficult for potential pet owners to have confidence in breeders or pet shops, even if they do have a licence. We hope that by highlighting the huge scale of the problem in our report we can encourage Government to make the vital changes needed to improve the welfare of pets bred and sold.”
Rather shockingly, one third of local authority licensing offices said they had received no formal animal welfare training. Subsequently, the lack of attention and resulting loophole means one large scale online puppy seller could make a potential untaxed profit of £276,000 over 24 months, with little or no regard for the dogs in question, thus diminishing their accountability to the buyer.
Due to recent budget cuts the report also highlights the lack of financial resources available to local authorities responsible for both inspections and issuing licenses, which has seen a subsequent struggle to enforce requisite standards. According to the report this has resulted in numerous, appalling findings in pet shops on a national scale, including little or no access to natural daylight, infestation of maggots in water bowls and inappropriate conditions for exotic pets resulting in unusual behaviour, whilst snakes are being kept in small boxes with no UV provision.
In response, the Blue Cross has requested that the Government do more to empower local authorities thus allowing them to implement a number of guidelines including; compulsory registration for breeders, standardised inspections and guidelines, easily accessible databases of all sellers and breeders and an update of the Pet Animals Act of 1951 to include specific references to pets sold online.
Images by Blue Cross.