A few weeks ago, I signed a petition to ask Parliament to ensure the fair breeding and sale of animals as pets.

I was quite shocked to hear back from Andrew Jones MP, Member of Parliament of Harrogate & Knaresborough. This is what he said:

Dear Ms Backhouse

Thank you for contacting me about the breeding and sale of pets.

Everyone who owns or is looking for a pet will want to know that it has had the best start to life. I entirely share your concern that for thousands of animals born each year to irresponsible breeders, their first weeks can be spent in cramped and squalid conditions without the care and attention that they need.

I am therefore glad to say that the Government is cracking down on the worst offenders by strengthening the licensing system and giving councils the power they need to take action.

These plans will ban sales of puppies or kittens at too young an age, which in most cases will be less than eight weeks. It will also require anyone breeding or selling three or more litters of puppies a year to apply for a formal license. Irresponsible breeders who break these rules face an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in prison.

They will introduce a single ‘animal activities license’ covering pet-shops, boarding houses and riding stables, to improve the process and make enforcement easier. Pet shops will also need to give customers written information about the animals they buy, with details about the five welfare needs owners must meet around environment, diet, behavior, housing and freedom from pain. This is particularly important when buying exotic pets, which have very specific needs.

With more and more pet sales now taking part on the internet, this market should be subject to the same strict licensing criteria as other breeders and pet shops. Anyone trading commercially in pets online will need to be properly licensed, to help make reputable sellers easily accessible to prospective buyers.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Jones MP