Council issues welfare warning to Banbury area residents as online puppy dealers profit during Covid pandemic boom
The council is warning pet lovers to carefully choose whom they do business with, amid warnings that a pandemic boom in dog ownership is allowing unscrupulous online dealers to profit.
The law states that anyone dealing dogs for profit in the district must have a licence from Cherwell District Council But the authority has only taken one licence application from a dog breeder during the pandemic.
Cllr Andrew McHugh, lead member for health and wellbeing, said: “Millions of UK households have purchased dogs during the pandemic. At the same time, we are witnessing a trend towards dealing pets through social media.
“As a licensing authority that leaves us with some significant concerns. Sellers need a licence even if their business is based at home or they sell animals online.
“If you are buying a puppy on the strength of a brief interaction with someone you have met online, you have no guarantee that the dealer has been following the law, or indeed that the puppy has not been stolen.
“It is a criminal offence to sell puppies without the necessary licence. On the other hand, if customers buy from a licensed dealer, they will have been inspected by our environmental health officers to ensure they meet welfare standards. Breeders need to display their licence at their place of business, and residents can also check whether they are licensed on the council’s website.”
Local authorities in the UK have found instances of price hiking and substantial non-refundable deposits being charged by dog dealers, aimed at exploiting the rising demand.
The Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 were introduced to address the increase in online sales of puppies by unlicensed breeders, and to make sure that anyone undertaking these activities meets the same minimum welfare standards.
The licensing system also ensures that dogs have received their appropriate vaccines.
Cllr McHugh added: “Looking after a pet is rewarding and a source of comfort and solace for anyone struggling with social isolation but those benefits come with a responsibility to make sure that those pets, in turn, are well cared for.
“Sadly, there are some animal dealers out there who are keeping puppies in dirty, unsanitary and confined conditions. Don’t hand over your money to someone making profits from animal abuse. Use a licenced dealer.”
To apply for their licence, businesses should visit www.cherwell.gov.uk/animal-licensing
To read The Animal Welfare Regulations 2018, visit https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/486/contents/madeIn March 2021 the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association reported that 3.2m UK households had purchased a pet since the start of the pandemic. This brought the total number of UK dogs to 12m.
Here are a few of the basic rules:
You cannot sell animals as pets in public places, such as a market stall.
You cannot sell puppies or kittens if you have not bred them yourself.
You do not need a licence to sell a small number of offspring of pets that you’ve bred as a hobby. However, if you are breeding three or more litters of puppies in any 12-month period or are breeding dogs and advertising a business selling dogs you may be classed as a business and may need a licence.
Further guidance from DEFRA is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/936830/dog-breeding-guidance.pdf