New law gives greater protection for animals

A new law covering the sale of puppies and kittens is due to come into effect from April.

‘Lucy’s Law’ will mean that puppies and kittens can no longer be sold by a pet shop or commercial dealer unless they have bred the animal themselves. 

Instead, anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten under six months must either deal directly with the breeder or an animal rehoming centre.

The law is named after Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who died after being subjected to terrible conditions on a puppy farm. 

Dogs like Lucy are often kept by breeders to produce multiple litters of puppies, which are taken from their mothers at just a few weeks’ old and advertised online or sold in pet shops.

Protecting animal welfare

Brighton & Hove City Council plays a key part in the fight to protect animal welfare. Many activities involving animals such as selling pets, breeding dogs for sale, boarding cats or dogs or day care for dogs require a licence from us.

Each licence holder is inspected and given a score out of five, so pet owners or prospective pet owners can be assured of the animal welfare conditions.

The council’s chair of licensing, Councillor Jackie O’Quinn, said: 

“We do a lot of work to make sure businesses working with animals in the city treat them correctly, so please do always follow the guidance if you’re thinking of getting a pet.

“We come across awful stories of animals kept in horrendous conditions from unscrupulous people dealing illegally in dogs and cats. Sometimes the puppies and kittens never recover. 

“So please never buy a pet without checking the trader’s licence and the conditions they’ve been kept in.”

Guidance on buying cats and dogs

If you’re thinking of buying a cat or dog, follow these guidelines to help combat the illegal trade in pet animals:

  • consider getting a rescue animal from a reputable UK rehoming organisation – you can check if the organisation is a member of the Association of Dogs and Cat Homes
  • if you’re thinking of buying a puppy, always ask to see a copy of the trader’s licence or ask for the licence number so you can check with the local council
  • never buy a puppy or kitten without asking to see them with their mum and the conditions they live in
  • never buy a puppy or kitten younger than eight weeks old

You can find more information from’s guidance on buying a cat or a dog.

You should also always ask for licence details if you’re considering boarding your cat or dog. And always ask to check where they will be kept.

If you have any concerns, please contact our Animal Warden team by emailing or calling 01273 294266.

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