PIF letter to Our Dogs on puppies in pet shops

The Pet Industry Federation has written a letter which has recently appeared in Our Dogs newspaper, clarifying its postion on the sale of puppies in pet shops:

The Pet Industry Federation (PIF) is a national trade association, which represents and supports a range of pet businesses – from dog groomers, kennels and catteries and home boarders to pet retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers. Our members have access to a range of education and benefits which help their businesses to raise welfare standards and thrive.

As a responsible membership organisation, it is PIF’s duty to protect the interests of all our members and to represent the interests of the wider pet industry, ensuring that its views are considered among all the other vociferous voices that lobby government on a multitude of issues.

The puppies in pet shops debate is one such area; one where we are accused of being a lone voice and one about which even our members have been targeted.
Let us first make something absolutely clear: PIF does NOT support puppy farms where puppies are bred with no regard for their health or welfare and where commercial gain is the overriding factor. PIF does NOT believe that this is the right way for puppies to be reared and believes that such premises should be shut down.

It is currently legal for puppies to be sold in pet shops and whilst that continues to be the case, PIF will put forward an argument for this to be done to the highest standards possible, with puppy welfare as paramount, only at clearly defined commercial retail premises where puppies are sourced from the UK and can be properly traced.

We have developed a ‘Puppy Retail Standard’ which includes these criteria and which any retailer who wishes to sell puppies will have to pass in order to become a PIF member. Whilst the 1951 Pet Animals Act remains in force, we would like this standard adopted by all local authorities as their guide to auditing any premise that needs a licence for retailing puppies.

PIF’s argument has always been that simply banning the sale of puppies in pet shops won’t make the puppy farm issue go away. We have endeavoured to clarify the wider ramifications involved, not because we put ‘profits before welfare’ but because to be taken seriously by legislators and to sort out the puppy supply/demand muddle, broader issues must be considered alongside the single-issue welfare arguments.

The reality is that the demand for puppies (estimated at about 800,000 per year) clearly outstrips the supply and even if every new owner obtained their new pet from a re-homing centre, thereby emptying them completely, this would only enable 80,000 new owners to bring home a new dog or puppy. Re-homing centres, whilst providing an essential and invaluable service to the most vulnerable dogs in society, are therefore not the answer to satisfying the public’s demand for puppies. If Kennel Club registrations only account for about 250,000 puppies, it begs the question: where can owners, who want to bring a new, happy, healthy puppy into their lives, turn to? It is this quandary that PIF wants unravel and bring to the discussion table.

Our view is this: that all stakeholders need to get together – industry, charities, lobby groups and veterinary bodies -  putting emotions to one side to discuss this important welfare issue, and begin the process of reaching consensus and ultimately finding a solution to the puppy supply problem. We won’t agree on everything, but chances are, if we agree on 90% and take steps to realise that, surely that has got to be good for puppy welfare.


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