I have been contacted by many residents in my constituency about third-party puppy sales.
I share their concern about the welfare of dogs that are bought and sold and the detrimental impact of poor breeding practices. I agree that the third-party sale of dogs should be banned. I believe that dogs should only be available from licensed, regulated breeders or approved re-homing organisations.
I understand that the Pet Animals Act 1951 requires third-party sellers of dogs to hold a pet shop licence. However, I believe that this licensing system is insufficient in protecting the welfare of dogs. The third-party licensed pet shop market depends on and sustains low welfare breeding. As long as there is a market for cheap, intensively bred puppies, welfare problems will continue because the incentives for non-compliance exceed the potential penalties.
As you mentioned in your letter, there was a debate in the House of Commons on 30 March 2017, during which the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee called for the third-party puppy sales to be banned.
During the debate the Government said that instead of a ban, it is seeking to address the problem through a tougher approach to licensing provisions and enforcement. I recognise that this will be disappointing to many of my constituents who have pressed for the Government to go further.
I will follow developments closely and I hope that the concerns that continue to be held by groups such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the RSPCA are taken into account.