Dog breeding and sales

The RSPCA defines 'puppy farming' as those breeders operating illegally and without a licence, and where often the worst forms of cruelty and neglect are found amongst the breeding bitches, stud dogs and puppies. We continue to work with Local Authorities to detect and prosecute such cases. However, the RSPCA believes the standards required of licensed dog breeding establishments should also be much higher.

RSPCA Cymru very much welcomed the introduction of new legislation to regulate dog breeding establishments - the animal welfare (breeding of dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014, which came into force on 30th April 2015.

In 2019, the Welsh Government published a report reviewing the animal welfare (breeding of dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014, which made a number of recommendations to tackle the long-standing issues associated with those Regulations. This came as the Welsh Government considered bringing forward the long-awaited ban on third party sale of puppies and kittens. 

On 2 March 2021, the Welsh Government re-laid The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Wales) Regulations 2021 following a 'small but important error' in the previous set introduced.

Under the proposals, anyone who wants to sell pets in Wales has to meet minimum animal welfare standards for the first time, with a new licensing scheme introduced for pet sellers. This establishes that puppies or kittens under six months of age not bred by the licence holder cannot be sold. The law also states that puppies, kittens, ferrets or rabbits cannot be sold until they are at least eight weeks of age - while local authorities across Wales will need to provide more data about the numbers of licenced premises in a locality; ensuring increased understanding of the animal welfare picture across the country.

However, RSPCA Cymru had been hopeful that the re-laid Regulations would provide an expected exemption for animal rescue and rehoming organisations to find new homes for younger puppies and kittens - but this appears to have not been addressed.

The RSPCA, and other animal rescue and rehoming organisations, routinely rescue kittens and puppies well under the age of six months. While we would not rehome any kitten or puppy until they were at-least eight weeks of age, the Regulations as laid prevent us rehoming any cat or dog under the age of six months. We are now urgently seeking clarification from the Welsh Government as to their intentions for these puppies and kittens.

The re-laid Animal Welfare (LAIA) (Wales) Regulations 2021 were unanimously passed on 23 March. Key assurances are now needed with regards to the guidance for local authorities and how the new Regulations will be implemented. Further information on dog breeding legislation in Wales can be found in this briefing.