Third party sales
The RSPCA believes that third party sales of puppies are not in the interest of either the animal or the prospective owner. There have been far too many cases of poor health and compromised behaviour of puppies sold by third party dealers which have led to poor welfare outcomes and member of the public left distressed and out of pocket.
Third party selling of puppies results in an increased exposure to inherently stressful events during key periods of development. ‘Appropriate’ standards of dog welfare cannot be preserved when third party sales occur.
However, based on current available evidence, it is clear that a third party sale ban is not appropriate for all species. There is a lack of data around the role of third party sales for other species, e.g. exotics, which is necessary if we are to fully understand the impact of such legislation. In some cases, e.g. kittens, the available data suggests that third parties appear to play less of a role but in others, e.g. rabbits, it makes up a significant proportion of sales. Introducing a blanket third party ban would likely have a detrimental impact to the pet trade on those species.
Factors affecting welfare are not, however, exclusive to third party sales and so we also welcome the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 which will improve the situation on breeding and selling pet animals as long as it comes with robust enforcement.
Any ban would need to be properly enforced under a statutory mechanism, adequately funded and any loopholes removed that could be exploited by present third party sellers, e.g. creating charities to ‘front’ fake rescue centres; stopping third country seller-consumer legal agreement to avoid a third party ban
Ultimately, the approach most likely to achieve the overall desired outcomes for dog welfare is a combination of a third party ban coupled with the new licensing regulations.