Selling a Pet

Minimum Standards

 

PAAG has created the Minimum Standards as a guideline for classified advertising websites to help them identify bad and/or poor adverts.

Websites must:

Label each advert clearly as to whether it is a private sale, commercial sale or from a rescue/rehoming centre

Run automated checks for ‘blacklisted’ words/terms, including for banned breeds and prohibited species

Filter for other misleading, inappropriate and illegal adverts and take any adverts found or notified down within 12 working hours

Monitor for multiple mobile/telephone numbers and email addresses in private sales and investigate and potentially ban frequent/repeat vendors if they are unable to provide evidence of a Local Authority licence. ‘Frequent’ is defined as the same vendor offering a third different animal (except fish) for sale in a twelve-month period

Permanently ban vendors who attempt to post illegal adverts (on three strikes and out basis)

Not include adverts for farmed animals

Ban adverts of live vertebrate animals as food

Ban adverts offering pregnant animals for sale

Ban adverts offering stud animals, animals in season or animals ‘for rent’ or ‘loan’ in pet section. Note that adverts offering horses or donkeys for loan are acceptable

Remove adverts specifying that the animal is to be used for working, hunting or guarding from the pet section

Cross reference adverts for dogs that have been tail docked with those breeds exempted in England, Scotland and Wales. Remove any adverts for breeds that are advertised as docked but are not an exempted breed, and those exempted breeds that have not been legally docked by a vet

Ban adverts for dogs that have been ear cropped

Ensure that no pets are advertised for swapping with other pets, services or goods

Ensure that species scheduled by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act are clearly marked as such and make clear to vendors that it is an offence to offer a species covered by EU Wildlife Trade Regulations Annex A and listed by CITES for sale without a valid Article 10 Certificate. Non-human primates should not be offered for sale

Exclude any advert where there is a reasonable concern for the health and welfare of the animal involved

Ensure that no live vertebrates are advertised for sale as deliverable through the postal system, national or international

Ensure that all dog adverts state the animal is microchipped. It is a legal requirement for all dogs over 8 weeks of age to be microchipped and registered to their breeder

Ensure that every view item page includes prominent links to PAAG advice on buying and selling an animal

Ensure that every view item page includes prominent links to PAAG approved care information on feeding, housing, handling, husbandry, life expectancy, provision of suitable accessories and veterinary care for the animal being advertised

Provide a clearly visible function for purchasers to report illegal, misleading or inappropriate adverts

Require all vendors to include information relating to the species name (and breed as relevant) and, except for fish, the sex of the animal(s)

Require all vendors to include a recent photograph of the animal(s) they are advertising (except for fish) and monitor for suspicious usage of images

Require all vendors to display the age of the animal(s) they are advertising (except for fish). No animal should be advertised for transfer to a new owner before it is weaned and no longer dependent on its parents

Require all vendors to state the country of residence from which the animal is being sold

Require all commercial vendors to provide Local Authority licence information when submitting an advertisement

Provide advice and support that encourages responsible rehoming to any sellers offering an animal as ‘free to a good home’

Legislation

 

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into force on October 1st,  2018.

These regulations introduced a single licence for pet vending (selling), dog breeding and animal boarding establishments, including home boarders and day care establishments. The Regulations introduced updated practices (found in the Schedules) for each of these activities.

It is now a legal requirement that licensed dog breeders and animal sellers include the following information on every advert:

Any advertisement for the sale of an animal must—

(a) include the number of the licence holder’s licence,

(b) specify the local authority that issued the licence,

(c) include a recognisable photograph of the animal being advertised,

(d) (except in the case of fish) display the age of the animal being advertised,

(e) state the country of residence of the animal from which it is being sold, and

(f) state the country of origin of the animal.

A dog breeder should be licensed if they are breeding 3 or more litters in a 12 month period, or are deemed by their Local Authority to be advertising a business of selling dogs. The business test is available here.

Anybody selling animals as pets (or with a view to their being later resold as pets) in the course of a business requires a licence (irrespective of whether they bred the animals). The business test is available here.

 

Dog breeders in Wales producing 3 or more litters in a calendar year are required to have a licence following the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014. In addition, these breeders should have detailed socialisation and enrichment plans which will help to ensure your puppy in well adapted to life and able to grow into a happy, healthy adult dog.

All pet sellers also require a licence under the Pet Animals Act 1951. This applies whether the pet is sold via a traditionally pet shop, or via a seller operating out of a residential premise.

 

Currently dog breeders in Scotland are governed by older legislation, including the Breeding of Dogs Act 1991 and the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999. The Scottish Government is presently reviewing this legislation to bring it up to date, but until then anybody breeding 5 of more litters in a calendar year requires a licence. In addition, anyone operating a breeding business should be licensed.

As in Wales, all pet sellers also require a licence under the Pet Animals Act 1951. This applies whether the pet is sold via a traditionally pet shop, or via a seller operating out of a residential premise.

 

In Northern Ireland the Welfare of Animals (Dog Breeding Establishments and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 apply. Similarly to England, anybody breeding 3 or more litters in a 12 month period requires a licence.

In addition, all pet sellers require a licence under the Petshops Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000. This applies whether the pet is sold via a traditionally pet shop, or via a seller operating out of a residential premise.

 

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 and the Welfare of Animals (Northern Ireland) Act 2011, a pet owner has a legal duty to ensure the welfare of their animal(s). A pet’s welfare needs include:

  • A proper diet
  • Somewhere suitable to live
  • Any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • Allowing animals to express normal behaviour
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease

The penalty for failing to care for a pet could be a fine of up to £20,000 or even a prison sentence. Please visit the advice section of this website for more information on caring for your pet.

 

It is illegal to own a dog prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. If you are found to be in possession of one of these dogs you could face a fine or even a prison sentence. The police may also seize your dog if they think it is a banned type.

If you have any concerns that an animal you are thinking of buying could be a banned type, PAAG’s advice is not to buy it and to report it to the relevant publisher’s customer services or helpline.

The Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) bans ownership, breeding, sale and exchange and advertising for sale of four specified types of dogs. The dogs covered by the ban (under section 1 of the DDA) are:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Fila Brasiliero
  • Dogo Argentino

The ban also extends to any crosses of the above dogs.

 

It is legal for a veterinary surgeon to dock a puppy of specified breeds from a working bitch. The criteria for ‘working’ are essentially: working to the gun; as a terrier; or for the police or other government agency.

Dogs docked as working dogs must be permanently identified with a microchip and must have a certificate from the veterinary surgeon who docked the puppy. Any dog docked after the legislation came into force must have a certificate.

Irrespective of where they were docked, they may not be shown at shows in England and Wales where the public is charged a fee for admission. However, if the competition is on the ability of the dogs, such as field trials or agility, docked dogs may compete.

 

  • Hunt point retrieve breeds of any type or combination of types.
  • Spaniels of any type or combination of types.
  • Terriers of any type or combination of types.

 

Spaniels of the following breeds:

  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Welsh Springer Spaniel
  • Cocker Spaniel,

but not combinations of breeds.

Terriers of the following breeds:

  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Lakeland Terrier,
  • Norfolk Terrier

but not combinations of breeds.

Hunt point retrieves of the breeds listed below:

  • Braque Italian
  • Brittany
  • German Long Haired Pointer
  • German Short Haired Pointer
  • German Wire Haired Pointer
  • Hungarian Vizsla
  • Hungarian Wire Haired Vizsla
  • Italian Spinone
  • Spanish Water Dog
  • Weinmaraner
  • Korthals Griffon
  • Slovakian Rough Haired Pointer
  • Large Munsterlander
  • Small Munsterlander

 

  • Of the type known as spaniel, of any breed or combination of breeds
  • Of the type known as hunt point retrieve, of any breed or combination of breeds

 

  • Spaniels of any breed or combination of breeds
  • Terriers of any breed or combination of breeds
  • Any breed commonly used for hunting, or any combination of such breeds
  • Any breed commonly used for pointing, or any combination of such breeds
  • Any breed commonly used for retrieving, or any combination of such breeds

 

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 impacts on the handling of anti-social behaviour involving dogs, and introduced a system of measures (such as, for example, Community Protection Notices) to help prevent incidents involving poorly behaved dogs and their irresponsible owners from spiralling out of control.

 

Across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland it is a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped.

This allows local authorities to trace stray, abandoned or stolen dogs and reunite them with their owners. The legislation is also anticipated to help identify the owners of troublesome dogs.

All dogs must be chipped by the breeder with the breeder’s details recorded on the microchip. Once you have brought your new puppy home you must update the details on it to be your own and keep them up to date to ensure it can always be returned to you if lost.

The penalty for failing to have your dog microchipped is a fine of up to £500.

Microchipping is recommended for all pets, but there are no current plans to make microchipping compulsory for any other species.

 

It is an offence to own, sell or buy an animal included in the Dangerous Wild Animal Act 1976 without a licence obtained from your local authority. This includes crosses with animals such as wolves and wild cats.

Infringements of the licence conditions or failure to obtain a licence are punishable with a fine of up to £2,000.

In addition, the following are prohibited from sale under the Invasive Alien Species Regulations (IAS), Plant Heath Regulations (PH) and Mink Keeping Order (MK).

 

Common name

Scientific name

Regulation prohibiting

Coypu

Myocastor coypus

IAS

Fox squirrel

Sciurus niger      

IAS

Grey squirrel

Sciurus carolinensis              

IAS

Muntjac deer            

Muntiacus reevesi  

IAS

Raccoon

Procyon lotor      

IAS

Pallas's squirrel

Callosciurus erythraeus

IAS

Siberian chipmunk

Tamias sibiricus

IAS

Small Asian mongoose

Herpestes javanicus

IAS

South American coati            

Nasua nasua

IAS

Mink

Mustela vison

MK

 

Common name

Scientific name

Regulation prohibiting

Indian house crow

Corvus splendens

IAS

Ruddy duck

Oxyura jamaicensis

IAS

Sacred ibis

Threskiornis aethiopicus

IAS

 

Common name

Scientific name

Regulation prohibiting

Slider terrapin

Trachemys scripta (all subspecies)

IAS

North American bullfrog

Lithobates (Rana) catesbeianus  

IAS

 

Common name

Scientific name

Regulation prohibiting

Amur sleeper           

Perccottus glenii    

IAS

Topmouth gudgeon

Pseudorasbora parva

IAS

 

Common name

Scientific name

Regulation prohibiting

Apple snail

Pomacea spp

PH

Asian hornet

Vespa velutina

IAS

Chinese mitten crab

Eriocheir sinensis

IAS

Marbled crayfish

Procambarus fallax f. virginalis

IAS

Red swamp crayfish

Procambarus clarkia

IAS

Signal crayfish

Pacifastacus leniusculus

IAS

Spiny-cheek crayfish

Orconectes limosus

IAS

Virile crayfish

Orconectes virilis

IAS

Need to report a pet that's ill?

Whilst looking at online pet adverts, perhaps in search of a new addition to your family, or merely out of interest, if you come across an advert that concerns you, we urge you to report it! Reporting concerning adverts is a crucial step in cracking down on unscrupulous breeders and dealers.