Lucy’s Law and advice on buying puppies and kittens during the lockdown

New law makes breeders directly accountable for ensuring all welfare standards have been met and upheld.

A new law came into effect this month which means puppies and kittens can only be sold by the person who bred them.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council is keen to make animal lovers aware of Lucy’s Law, which insists everyone must be able to see the mother when they are buying a puppy or kitten.

Anyone breeding dogs commercially in the East Riding area must hold a licence issued by the council’s licensing team, following an inspection by an experienced officer and a vet.

The new law makes breeders directly accountable for ensuring all welfare standards have been met and upheld and ensures the breeding chain can be fully audited if required.

If people are thinking of buying a puppy or kitten, they should:

  • Research the breeder online. Be very wary if they are advertising many litters of different breeds.
  • Copy and paste the seller’s phone number into a search engine. If the number is being used on lots of different adverts, on various sites, this is another red flag
  • Remember that puppies and kittens should never be sold under eight weeks old.
  • Make sure the seller shares all records of vaccinations, flea and worm treatment and micro-chipping with you before the sale.

The new law was named after Lucy, a King Charles spaniel, who was rescued in 2013, after she was used for many years to breed several litters of puppies with little consideration for her health and welfare.

It has been brought in at a time when the ways you can buy a new puppy or kitten has changed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sales of puppies and kittens are still allowed but restrictions mean that buyers cannot visit the home of breeders.

Cllr Mike Stathers, portfolio holder for enhancing communities, said: “People should arrange to see the puppy or kitten with their mother via video link, on more than one occasion if necessary. Make sure you are happy it is the real mother and request that documents regarding birth information, vaccines and health checks are sent to you by email.

“The breeder will need to deliver the puppy or kitten to the seller’s home address, ensuring they adhere to social distancing.

“Payments should be made electronically, rather than in cash, and you should not feel rushed or pressurised into committing to a purchase.”

A full list of all licensed dog breeders in the East Riding, including the star rating they have been awarded is available at

Don’t get caught out

Buying or adopting a pet is an exciting time. But do you really know the person behind the advert?

Sadly, when you’re looking for a new cat or dog, you’re more likely to come across deceitful sellers than you might think. These sellers mistreat animals to line their pockets.

Welcoming these pets into your home can have tragic consequences. Some have severe health problems. Often, they won’t have been socialised with other animals or people. It’s important to do your research so you know your new pet has come from a responsible seller.

Watch this film to hear real-life stories from people who bought from deceitful sellers

The law is named after Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was rescued from a puppy farm where she was subjected to terrible conditions. Puppy farms are located across the UK with most depending on third-party sellers or ‘dealers’ to distribute often sick, traumatised, unsocialised puppies which have been taken away from their mother at just a few weeks old. This often involves long-distance transportation, with the puppy or kitten suffering life-threatening medical, surgical, or behavioural problems which are passed on to unsuspecting new owners. Lucy’s Law effectively removes the third-party dealer chain, resulting in all dog and cat breeders becoming accountable for the first time. As well as Lucy’s Law, the Government has committed to supporting tougher sentences for animal cruelty, raising maximum prison sentences from six months to five years, and has pledged to bring in new laws on animal sentience and to end excessively long journeys for live animals.

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