Belfast Telegraph

Ban callous unlicensed puppy farms from selling pets, Stormont urged

Suffering: Lucy the Cavalier Spaniel
Suffering: Lucy the Cavalier Spaniel

By Michael Kenwood

Members of Belfast City Council have called on Stormont to ban the sale of puppies and kittens from unregistered breeders.

Green Party councillor Anthony Flynn forwarded a motion that the council demands Northern Ireland adopts 'Lucy's Law', which begins later this year in England, meaning that members of the public can only buy from registered breeders.

After passing, the council will now write to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to call for preparatory work to allow for Lucy's Law to be legislated for here.

Mr Flynn said: "Puppy farming is a callous, inhumane and cruel industry, which seeks to make a quick profit out of the misery of animals.

"Bred in horrendous conditions, where they lack basic needs of food and water, animals are denied adequate healthcare, and young pups are often removed from their mothers long before they are ready, according to standards set out by established practice."

Lucy's Law is named after the Cavalier King George Spaniel who suffered multiple health conditions including a curved spine, bald patches, epilepsy, and infused hips as a result of spending most of her life kept in a cage and used to breed litters of puppies at a Welsh puppy farm.

In 2013 Lucy was rescued by Lisa Garner, who used social media to spread the word about the conditions in puppy farms.

In her memory, Lucy's Law campaign was launched, and new legislation is becoming law in England in April this year.

Similar legislation is being looked at in Wales and a consultation on the issue is active in Scotland.

Mr Flynn added: "You will still be able to adopt animals from rehoming charities, but there is an ongoing conversation on whether these rescue and rehoming centres will require licences in the future and become regulated themselves.

"I hope with the returned Assembly that this issue will be high on the priority list for any new minister and department.

"I intend to lobby hard to see this important legislative change, and hope this council can lend its support."

Lucy's Law means that cats and dogs under six months old can only be sold through breeders directly. They must be born and reared in a safe environment with their mother, and sold from their place of birth.

Third party sellers such as pet shops and commercial dealers would not be able to sell young animals unless they have bred them themselves.

The ban is also designed to deter smugglers who often abuse the pet travel scheme to bring animals into the UK to be sold for profit, often from the Republic or from mainland UK.

The motion passed with unanimous support in the chamber.

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