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There has been growing support for the introduction of ‘Lucy’s Law’ in Scotland after it was recently confirmed it will be introduced in England and Wales.
The legislation bans third party sales of puppies and kittens and was heavily backed by the general public. It will mean anyone looking to adopt a puppy or kitten has to deal directly with a breeder or with an animal rehoming centre. The law is designed to crack down on puppy farms and make it much more difficult for both licensed and unlicensed breeders who prioritise profit over welfare to get rich quick.
Lucy’s Law is named after a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel which was rescued from a puppy farm five years ago. She was five years old and had spent most of her life in a cage. As a result of the conditions she was bred and kept in, her hips were fused, her spine was curved, she was infertile and suffered from epilepsy. Lucy was rehomed and it was her owner, Lisa Garner, who launched the campaign to introduce the legislation.
Since the announcement just before Christmas, there has been growing support in Scotland to implement Lucy’s Law. The Scottish SPCA fully supports Lucy’s Law and would welcome it, but in actual fact legislation has been in place for over a decade to regulate the sale of pups and kittens in Scotland.
Back in November 2008, the Scottish Government passed The Licensing of Animal Dealers (Young Cats and Dogs) (Scotland) Regulations 2008. This Bill states that, if the seller is not a licensed breeder or pet shop, they must secure a license on the same conditions as a breeding establishment to legally sell kittens or puppies. Any animal under 84 days old must be kept on the premises for a minimum of ten days and has to be checked by a certified vet within 24 hours of its arrival on these premises. The vet must also permanently identify these animals during the check.
For the past decade, Scotland’s legislation on the sales of puppies and kittens has been the most robust in the UK. The responsibility for enforcing this legislation lies with local authorities and this means there is likely to be big discrepancies in how the law is upheld from region to region. Were Lucy’s Law to come in to effect in Scotland, the onus would still be on councils to make sure it is enforced and everyone appreciates how stretched resources are in local government.
It is also important to stress that the Scottish SPCA is leading the fight against the illegal puppy trade in the UK. Our Special Investigations Unit has spearheaded efforts to disrupt the trade in collaboration with a number of animal welfare organisations and other partners. The Scottish Government’s #BuyAPuppySafely campaign has secured widespread public and cross-party political support and has been backed by our own #SayNoToPuppyDealers campaign.
The best way to combat the illicit sales of young animals is to educate the public on how to spot if a puppy or kitten may have been bred on a farm or in poor conditions, and that is what the Scottish SPCA will continue to do.