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Pinch, punch, first of the month as they say…

From today backstreet breeders will be dealt a real blow as new regulations to tackle unscrupulous breeding tactics come into force.

Breeders producing three or more litters a year must apply for a licence through their local council and prove they meet basic standards of animals welfare. The new laws will also prevent breeders from selling puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age to pet shops and other dealers.

Animal welfare charities, such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, have welcomed the new laws. Battersea’s Deputy Chief Executive Peter Laurie said, “Relentless breeding of dogs in dirty, squalid conditions takes place in neighbourhoods up and down the UK. Battersea and other rescue centres are often the ones left to pick up the pieces when breeding bitches are deemed no longer useful and are dumped on the streets. We hope today’s regulations will help to clamp down on the cruel practice of forcing these dogs to live in horrible conditions while giving birth to litter after litter.”

Marjorie’s story

One dog to suffer at the hands of this industry is Marjorie, a two-year-old Bulldog who was brought into Battersea after she’d been found dumped on the streets in a dreadful state.

Despite her young age, Marjorie had clearly already given birth to many litters. She was unable to sit because of a prolapsed womb and was covered in mange and missing much of her hair. She was nursed back to health by Battersea and the loving care of her foster carer, and now owner, Hollie Oppe.

Marjorie became the face of Battersea’s End Backstreet Breeding Campaign in 2015. Credit: Battersea

Marjorie became the face of Battersea’s End Backstreet Breeding Campaign in 2015, which called for a clampdown on the many undercover dog breeders that put profit before animal welfare. 

The charity now hopes these new regulations will make it more difficult for unscrupulous breeders to sell dogs for vast profit on the web, which is a key route to market for many backstreet breeders. So far Battersea has taken in 280 dogs that were originally bought online.

Eva, an 11-month-old Jack Russell Terrier, was bought online when her previous owner saw an online advert. When she went to collect her, she arrived at a shop front and the seller brought our a tiny Eva, who was clearly malnourished and very ill. Her owner bought her to try and help her but despite her best efforts, Eva’s anxiety issues were too much and she bought her to Battersea in April 2010. Eva has since been rehomed.   

Eva was bought online from a backstreet breeder
Credit: Battersea

Peter Laurie commented, “When you’re buying online, it can be impossible to pick out the genuine seller from a backstreet breeder or someone who’s acting as a front for a puppy farmer. Many of the dogs bought online that then come into Battersea have been given up because their owners discover they have unexpected behavioural or medical issues they can’t cope with. We urge people thinking of getting a new pet to visit a rescue centre first. Here at Battersea, we complete in-depth behavioural and medical assessments on every dog that comes through our doors, so people know what they’re getting when they take their new pet home.”

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