What is Lucy's Law? The new UK regulation on the sale of puppies and kittens

As a nation of pet lovers, the proliferation of poorly run, and often cruel, puppy and kitten farms has long been a contentious issue in the UK. Animal lovers can start to rejoice now, though, as the aptly named Lucy's Law came into effect in April 2020, and offers major crackdowns on puppy farms and puppy smuggling in the UK.

If you haven't heard of Lucy's Law before, then you can find out what Lucy’s Law is and how it impacts the sale of kittens and puppies in the UK.

What is Lucy's Law?

Lucy's Law is named in honour of a beautiful Cavalier King Charles bitch who was rescued from a puppy farm back in 2013. Lucy was rescued from a puppy farm at the age of five, she'd been kept in a tiny cage for most of her short life and used for breeding under the harshest and cruellest of conditions. The treatment she received at the puppy farm resulted in her hips being totally fused, curvature of the spine, epilepsy, and various other conditions. Lucy died back in 2016, but campaigning by her new owner, Lisa Garner, and vet Marc Abraham who also founded PupAid, meant Lucy's Law was enacted in 2019 and came into force on 6 April 2020.

How does Lucy's Law impact on the sale of puppies and kittens in the UK?

Under this new legislation, from 6 April all dealers and pet shops in England were banned from selling kittens or puppies, effectively wiping out any third party pet sales. This doesn't mean you can't buy a pup or kitten anymore, but you can only legally buy them directly from the breeders or from rescue centres now. 

What's more, when you do buy a kitten or puppy from a breeder in England they need to be licensed and are also obliged to show the mother interacting with her brood and the actual place of birth. Any unlicensed breeders face being sent to prison for up to six months and a large fine.

Lord Goldsmith, Minister for Animal Welfare said: "Today is a significant milestone for animal welfare, and a major step towards ending cruel puppy farming and smuggling. After all the hard work of Marc Abraham and the Lucy’s Law campaign, I’m so pleased that we finally have this crucial legislation which will help tackle the heart-breaking third-party trade of dogs and cats."

He added that it is also important for members of the public to stay on board with all ramifications of Lucy's Law by "always asking to see puppies and kittens interacting with their mothers in their place of birth, looking out for the warning signs, and reporting any suspicious activity. By raising awareness of illegal sellers to the local authorities, we can all help to protect the nation’s cats and dogs and give them the best start in life."

Animal welfare organisations like the RSPCA and Battersea Dogs Home, celebrity campaigners, and animal rights activists came together to welcome this new legislation in England, which will hopefully put an end to cruel puppy and kitten farming practices, and ensure consumers have opportunities to buy the healthiest and most socially confident pets from hereon.