Sale of Dogs
In England and Wales there are laws which relate to dogs for sale. If an individual runs a business which specialises in breeding dogs for sale whether this is at a dedicated premises or at a residential property they must comply with the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999. In order to breed dogs, the individual must also obtain the necessary licence from their local authority.
Any person who states that they are not running an establishment for the breeding and sale of dogs when the authorities claim they are, must be able to demonstrate that none of the puppies from the property have been exchanged for money at any time within the past twelve months.
Failure to obtain the necessary licence for running a business for the breeding and sale of dogs will result in severe penalties and a criminal prosecution. In the worst cases it could lead to a prison sentence.
The Sale of Dogs, Licenses and Offences
Under the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 a number of criminal offences have been established in relation to the sale of dogs by licensed breeders.
The offences are as follows:
- Selling a dog somewhere that is not classed as a dog breeding premises, a licensed pet shop or in Scotland a licensed rearing establishment
- Selling a dog to an individual where it is known at the point of sale that the purchaser intends to sell the dog to another party and the purchaser is not a licensed pet shop owner
- Selling a dog which is younger than 8 weeks old to someone other than a licensed pet shop owner
- Selling to the owner of a licensed pet shop a dog which was not born at a premises licensed for dog breeding or a dog that was delivered without a collar with an identification tag or badge. This badge should clearly display the licensed breeding establishment where it was born.
Any reach of the above rules would constitute a criminal offence.
A license holder may be able to defend their actions provided that they can prove that they took necessary and reasonable steps while exercising due diligence to avoid committing any offences.
Failure to comply with the regulations for the sale of dogs will result in one or more penalties which could include a fine and term in prison. Courts can also instruct that licences are withdrawn and the individual banned from keeping a dog breeding establishment or having custody of any dog for a certain period of time. This timeframe will be at the discretion of the court.
Additionally, courts can also order that a dog currently in custody of a third party is surrendered and the defendant pays for the dogs care until permanent arrangements have been made to care for or dispose of the animal. Failure to comply with either of these options is a criminal offence and is also punishable by a prison sentence and/or fine. When the dog is surrendered to a third party, this person will be able to make a representation to the court. If an order is issued, there is a right of appeal.
The Pet Animals Act 1951
Pet Shop Owners
The Pet Animals Act 1951 is an area of legislation which applies to pet shop owners. An owner of a pet shop is classed as someone who sells animals as pets, or keeps animals on their premises whether domestic or commercial for the purpose of selling. If any of these situations apply, then the individual must apply to the local authority to obtain the necessary licence which will enable them to operate.
There are exceptions to this rule which usually relate to selling or keeping pedigree animals which are bred on the premises. Local authorities may state that breeders who sell pet animals solely for the purpose of breeding or shows are not classed as a keeper of a pet shop.
Running a pet shop and failure to obtain a licence from the local authority can result in severe penalties including a fine and in the worst cases, imprisonment.
Under the Pet Animals Act 1951 it is a criminal offence to sell animals as pets on a market stall, in a public place or on the street.
Anyone who breeds or sells dogs must ensure that they understand the importance of animal welfare. In 2006, The Animal Welfare Act was introduced which makes it a criminal offence to sell an animal to anyone under the age of 16 years. For the purpose of this legislation, the sale of an animal will relate to transferring or agreeing to transfer ownership of the dog through a transaction.
This Act also introduced several other offences which relate predominantly to the welfare of animals and steps taken to reduce harm to animals. These regulations are applicable to both the buyer and seller of the dog.
Although dogs are considered to be domestic animals, in the majority of instances the law will treat the sale of a dog in exactly the same way as it deals with issues relating to the sale of goods. When a dog is sold, a contract is established between the buyer and the seller. As a result the general rules surrounding contracts will apply. The purchase will also be protected under the Sale of Goods Act 1979. In certain situations, a purchaser may be able to begin a claim against a seller for breach of contract and/or misrepresentation. This however will depend on a number of variables and the individual circumstances that related to the purchase of the dog.
The laws relating to the sale of dogs are there for a reason and are used to protect the buyer, the seller and the dogs themselves. Animal welfare is important, but when you purchase a dog, you want to make sure that you are protected should anything go wrong. There are certain rights and responsibilities that you have. If you are in any doubt about your rights after you have purchased a dog, it is recommended that you seek advice from a qualified legal profession.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.