Back in 2013, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was rescued from a puppy farm in Wales. The dog, named Lucy, had spent over five years confined to a cage. She had been continuously bred, birthing hundreds of puppies, and subjected to awful conditions that left her barely able to stand.
An awful story, and one that we know has happened far too many times before - to cats and dogs who have lived only to breed and make money for their owners. In many cases, their kittens or puppies have been taken away from them at a very young age - and much earlier than they are ready - and sold for profit to pet dealers, pet shops and unsuspecting members of the public.
Lucy’s story sparked a national campaign that saw the UK government pass a new legislation - one that later became known as ‘Lucy’s Law’. This law prevents pet dealers and other outlets from selling kittens or puppies under the age of six months unless:
They have bred the animals themselves
They are a business such as a legitimate rescue centre
All this is in addition to previous legislation that states that licensed breeders, as well as pet shops and dealers, must not sell puppies or kittens under the age of eight weeks old, and that any sales must take place at the place where the animals are kept.
Lucy’s Law has helped to ensure that fewer animals are subjected to the horrific abuse that Lucy received. It is also helping to crack down on the abuse of the EU Pet Travel Scheme which sees puppies and kittens brought to the UK from overseas and sold.
In short, it means that you can only purchase a kitten under six months old if you are buying from the people who bred it. You can also, of course, adopt from a genuine rescue centre.
It also means that you need to be savvy when it comes to acquiring a new pet - make sure you’ve asked the right questions, and established that the breeder is honest, trustworthy and has the best interest of their animals at heart.
If you are thinking about welcoming a new kitten into your home, there are many questions you should ask, including:
How old are they?
Where have they been bred?
Have they been checked by a vet?
Can I see them with their mother and siblings?
What socialisation have they had?
Have they had any vaccinations?
Are they microchipped?
The questions above will help you establish whether the breeder in question has acted responsibly. It goes without saying that any breeder you speak to should love their cats. They should also be knowledgeable about the breed, and about producing healthy and well-socialised animals.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider is what questions they ask of you. They should want to know that the kittens are going to a good - great, even - new home. This means, they need to know about you, your home, your family, and more.
There is a great article over on YourCat.co.uk that discusses this in more detail. And, of course, don’t forget that we are always here to help should you have any questions or need any advice.
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