During the last two and a bit months since I became an MP, I have received a large amount of correspondence from constituents about the need to toughen up on sentencing for offenders enacting cruelty towards animals. I have been around animals for most of my life. I am due to welcome a baby whippet to my home at the end of March and you can enjoy the pictures of our new addition (no name yet!) on Instagram. When you see pictures of my new dog, I hope that you will agree with me that I do not understand why some people wish to harm animals often in such terrible and cruel ways.
Issues associated with animal cruelty and sentencing perpetrators have risen up the political agenda too. I have received important information from the Dogs Trust and Battersea Dogs Home about the problem and I was also pleased to meet Finn last week, a beautiful police dog, who was horrifically injured in an attack whilst chasing an armed subject. Finn is now subject of Finn’s Law, the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act, which is designed to protect our brave servicemen and their dogs facing attack by criminals. You can find out more about Finn’s Law via this weblink https://www.finnslaw.com/finns-story-2/
I also asked a written question to the Ministers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to tackle the farming of puppies.
The Minister responded:
In October 2018, The Animal Welfare (licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into force which updated and improved the laws on the breeding and selling of dogs in England.
The new regulations require dog breeders and sellers to adhere to strict statutory minimum welfare standards linked to the welfare needs set out in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This includes prohibiting the sale of puppies below the age of 8 weeks; preventing licensed breeders from selling dogs not bred by them and preventing breeders from breeding dogs if it can be reasonably expected on the basis of their genotype, phenotype or health that this would lead to welfare problems for the mother or the puppies. In addition, licensed breeders must show puppies to purchasers in the presence of the mother and licensed pet sellers must complete the sale of a dog in the presence of the purchaser on the licensed premises. This prevents online sales of puppies.
Any licensed breeder advertising puppies for sale must include their licence number in the advert to improve traceability. In addition, from 6 April 2020, the regulations will prohibit the commercial third party sale of puppies and kittens to directly tackle low welfare, high volume breeding, known as puppy farms. In advance of this ban coming into force, the Government will launch a public awareness campaign on the responsible sourcing of puppies and kittens.
I will continue to be active in this area and I am pleased that my colleague, Chris Loder MP, is bringing forward a Private Members Bill on increasing sentencing for perpetrators of animal cruelty. I have told him that I will do all I can to support this bill. We need to send a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated and strength the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.