Skip to main content
Insight

How Much is That Doggy in the Window? Dogs Trust Ireland launches new awareness campaign to highlight the dangers of buying dogs or puppies online

Aisling Ray
16/11/2020

Locations

Ireland

Dogs Trust Ireland has on Tuesday 10 October, launched a new awareness campaign to highlight the dangers of buying dogs or puppies online and has warned that many people who buy puppies online are, unbeknownst to the purchaser, purchasing those puppies from puppy farms. They have called for more stringent enforcement of laws surrounding the sale of pets which came into force at the beginning of 2020.
 
The awareness campaign aims at familiarising members of the public with the provisions of the Animal Health and Welfare (Sale or Supply of Pet Animals) Regulations 2019 so that they can ensure that they are fully aware of the origin of the pets they are buying online, or otherwise, and can readily identify an illegal ad for the sale or supply of pets.
 
We take a look at these regulations relating to the sale of pets and how these are enforced.
 
Animal Health and Welfare (Sale or Supply of Pet Animals) Regulations 2019
 
The Animal Health and Welfare (Sale or Supply of Pet Animals) Regulations 2019 (the "2019 Regulations") came into operation on 1 February 2020.
 
The 2019 Regulations were made pursuant to Section 36 of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 (the "2013 Act") and contain provisions surrounding the sale and advertisement of pets, as well as requirements relating to registration of sellers and records sellers must hold.
 
A breach of certain provisions of these regulations constitutes an offence under the 2013 Act and those who are convicted could receive up to a maximum fine of €250,000, or a 5 year prison sentence.
 
Offences Provided for by the 2019 Regulations
 
  • Selling pets that are too young
It is an offence under the 2019 regulations for someone to sell or supply an un-weaned pet.
 
Dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old in order to be sold, as do ferrets. Rabbits must be at least 6 weeks old and smaller pets such as guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, rats or mice must be at least 4 weeks old.
 
If a person sells a pet below these ages they are guilty of an offence.
 
  • Advertising of Pets for Sale
Any advertisement for sale or supply of a pet, whether it be online, or otherwise, must contain the following information, and it is an offence if someone publishes an ad without this information:
 
  • The registration number of the person selling the pet, if applicable (see below re Sale of Pets by Un-Registered Persons);
  • The age of the pet;
  • If it is a dog, the microchip number of the dog;
  • The country of origin of the pet;
  • If the seller if a dog breeding establishment under the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010, the advertisement must also include;
    • The registration number issued by the relevant local authority; or
    • The charity registration number.
If a person knowingly make a false statement in order to secure the publication of an advertisement for the sale of a pet, then they are also guilty of an offence under the 2019 Regulations.
 
  • Sale of Pets by Un-Registered Persons
Any person who sells more than 5 pets in a calendar year must be registered on the Register of Sellers and Supplies of Pet Animals (the "Register of Sellers") maintained by the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine and the premises that the person uses in connection with the sale and supply of pets must also be registered on the Register of Premises maintained by the Minister.
 
When the Minister is considering an application for registration on the Register of Sellers of register of Premises, the Minister may refuse an application or revoke registration if he or she is satisfied that the 2019 Regulations will not be complied with or if he or she is of the opinion that the applicant is not a fit person to be registered. The Minister may also impose conditions on registration and if these conditions are not complied with the registration can be revoked.
 
If a person sells pets and is not on the Register of Sellers (unless they are covered by the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010 or are a facility run by a local authority) or the premises used by the registered person is not on the Register of Premises, they are guilty of an offence.
 
  • Display of Certificate and Registration Number
When a person is registered on the Register of Sellers the Minister will issue them with a certificate which contains a unique registration number. The registered person is obliged to display their copy certificate and registration number on their premises and the failure to do so is an offence.
 
  • Record Keeping
There is a requirement to keep records relating to the sale and supply of pets for a period of 3 years. These records must include the following information:
 
  • Name and address of the person from whom the animal is obtained;
  • The date the animal is obtained;
  • The date the animal is sold;
  • Name and address of the person to whom the animal is sold or supplied;
  • The species, breed, sex, colour, markings, age and physical and health condition of the animal;
  • Details of medical care received by the animal;
  • Date of disposal of any animal not sold or supplied and details of same, whether it be by death, euthanasia or escape.
 
Failure to keep such records for at least 3 years, or failure to make these records available to on request to an Authorised Officer, is an offence.
Enforcement of Offences
 
Each of the above offences can be prosecuted either summarily or on indictment as provided for by Section 36(4)(b) of the 2013 Act.
 
As outlined above, if prosecuted on indictment, a convicted person could receive a fine of up to €250,000 or a term of imprisonment up to 5 years.
 
If prosecuted summarily, a convicted person can receive a class A fine or a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months. Summary prosecutions in the District Court for such offences may be taken by one of the following;
  • The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine;
  • The Local Authority where the offence is alleged to have occurred; or
  • An Garda Síochána.
The Gardaí also have the power, under the 2013 Act, to arrest a person suspected of committing one of the offences above, without a warrant and they may be detained under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act.
 
Conclusion
 
The 2019 Regulations are a welcome addition in regulating those who sell or supply pets and to try and ensure that those who do are reputable persons. They will also hopefully help to stamp out puppy farming in Ireland.
 
Written by Aisling Ray. 

Sign up to our email digest

Click to subscribe or manage your email preferences.

SUBSCRIBE

Areas of Expertise

Public and Regulatory