Introduction

Robin Newton MBE MLA would like your views on the Private Members' Bill he is proposing to introduce in Northern Ireland. Your answers to the following questions will further guide the legislation.

This Private Members' Bill, Lucy’s Law Northern Ireland, will tackle the sale of puppies from unlicensed breeders, as well as tightening regulations for registered breeders in Northern Ireland.

Across Northern Ireland there are just 45 registered dog breeding establishments with over 1,700 registered breeding bitches. This Private Members' Bill aims to protect each of the breeding bitches, and each of their puppies.

Lucy’s Law Northern Ireland also aims to build on the current regulations set out by the Welfare of Animals (Dog Breeding Establishment and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013 which currently do not contain powers for City and Borough Councils to close down unregistered breeding establishments (any premises breeding over 3 litters of puppies in 12 months. Councils currently have the powers of:

·         Licencing of dog breeding establishments

·         Identification of individual breeding bitches

·         Collection of registration fees (dependent on how many breeding bitches an establishment has)

·         Regular inspections of registered dog breeding establishments

·         Powers to fine or take to court any establishment contravening the regulations (both registered and illegal). The penalty for these offences is a fine not exceeding level £5,000, and/or, imprisonment for a period of up to 6 months.

In Northern Ireland a person must register their premises as a dog breeding establishment if they breed three or more litters of puppies within 12 months, however, many establishments do not register. In just one Borough Council in the last year, 2 unregistered breeding establishments were discovered with a collective number of 29 breeding bitches and an unknown amount of puppies sold to unsuspecting families.

With this Private Members' Bill, Robin Newton MLA aims to eradicate unregistered breeding establishments, or ‘Puppy Farms’ by giving stronger powers to City and Borough Councils and firmer sanctions for those caught illegally breeding puppies; as well as more closely regulating registered breeders and breeding bitches. The Bill also aims to ban third party selling of puppies to ensure all puppies purchased are coming from a well monitored environment.  He believes this is the essential first step to any attempt to reform dog breeding welfare.

This consultation will be live from Friday 11th December 2020 to Friday 5th February 2021.

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* 1. Do you support the tightening of regulations regarding the breeding of puppies in Northern Ireland?

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* 2. Are you filling out this survey as a:

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* 3. How many bitches do you think each registered breeding establishment should be able to breed at any one time?

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* 4. How many litters in a 12-month period do you think a single registered bitch should be allowed to have?

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* 5. How old should a puppy be before being sold?

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* 6. Do you think City and Borough Councils should have the powers to immediately stop breeding at any unregistered breeding establishments (any establishment breeding more than 3 litters in 12 months)?

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* 7. Do you think City and Borough Councils should be required to check and keep a record of how many litters each registered breeding bitch has in a 12-month period?

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* 8. If you were to buy a puppy from a breeding establishment, would you be likely to check that the establishment and breeding bitch are registered?

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* 9. Do you think the City and Borough Councils should publish a list of registered breeding establishment with updates on recent inspections?

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* 10. Do you think only registered breeders and rehoming organisations should be able to sell puppies?

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* 11. Do you think registered breeders should be required to chip puppies before selling them?

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* 12. How strongly do you agree that it should be the responsibility of the buyer to educate themselves on the breeding bitch and breeding establishment they are purchasing from?

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* 13. Should there be fines for puppy purchasers who knowingly purchase pups from illegal breeding establishments?

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* 14. Have you, or someone you know, had a bad experience when buying a puppy?

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* 15. If you ticked yes, please explain.

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* 16. If you have purchased a puppy recently, did you purchase from

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* 17. Have you had to seek veterinary help after buying a puppy, besides from the mandatory jabs and microchipping?

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* 18. Did you face extensive vet care bills for a young pup?

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* 19. Was your pet Microchipped and wormed before you bought it?

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* 20. Were you able to contact the breeder after the purchase?

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* 21. Did you see the puppy with the mother before purchasing?

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* 22. Do you think the problem of illegal puppy breeding has got worse during the current Covid-19 pandemic?

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* 23. If you do not agree with the proposal, please comment below to outline:
Why you object to the proposal
What alternative proposal in respect of regulating dog breeding you propose, and why?
Is there any additional element which, if added to the proposal, would allow you to agree with this proposal?

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