Due to the current stalemate of Stormont, new legislation banning licensed sellers from dealing in puppies and kittens less than eight weeks old will not be introduced in Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK on October 1.

A spokesman from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) commented:

“The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a consultation last month seeking views on proposals to ban third party sales of puppies and kittens. The consultation will run from 22nd August 2018 to 19th September 2018 and applies to England only.”

He continued: “Legislation regarding animal welfare and the licencing of pet shops and dog breeding remains a devolved matter and any decision would be for a minister to take.”

The new legislation follows ‘Lucy’s Law,’ the prominent campaign which called for the immediate halt of the sale of young pets by third-party commercial dealers. A petition in support of the campaign gained nearly 150,000 signatures and was debated in Parliament back in May this year.

Under the ban, anyone wishing to buy or adopt a pet less than six months old will have to deal directly with the breeder or a rescue centre. This aims to reduce the serious health problems and socialisation issues which afflict pets kept in poor conditions often associated with puppy farms.

Brenda, manager of Bright Eyes Animal Sanctuary comments, “Like everyone in Northern Ireland, we are hoping for a resolution to the stalemate sooner rather than later so that we can move forward and in line with the rest of the UK in regard to animal welfare laws. As an animal welfare charity, we are always welcoming of new legislation which aims to protect animals.”

Stating that puppy farming accounts for some of the animals taken in by the sanctuary every year, Brenda continues, “This year alone we have taken in several female dogs who were used for breeding and then dumped. One in particular had multiple health problems including mange, kennel cough, uterine infection and eventually had her tail amputated due to years of unhealed injuries. I am pleased to say she is living with a very loving family now!”

If or when the new legislation comes into effect in Northern Ireland, Brenda urges people to continue to be vigilant with regards to puppy farmers in their local area. She says, “The trade will undoubtedly still continue therefore reporting to the council animal welfare department is vital in shutting them down.”

She adds, “Our advice would be to never rehome a dog from websites such as DoneDeal or Gumtree as these are often used by unscrupulous puppy farmers.”