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Animal welfare is a devolved matter: this brief covers the position in England only. There is no legislation that is specific to acquiring a pet online in England, although regulations do cover some of the issues that arise regularly with online sales.

In addition, the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) has set minimum voluntary standards for both private and commercial advertisers, and advertising websites, to comply with. These aim to address some of the concerns about online sales of pets, including poor welfare standards and commercial breeders masquerading as private sellers.

Petition on regulation of online animal sales

There have been calls for increased regulation of online pet sales. This includes a Parliamentary e-petition 587654 #reggies law – regulate online animal sales from the Justice for Reggie campaign, which received 109,003 signatures and closed on 7 December 2021.   A debate on the petition is scheduled in Westminster Hall on 13 December 2021.

The Government response to the petition set out the work of PAAG, and its own Petfishing campaign. It also highlighted existing regulations on selling animals, the ban on third party sales of puppies and kittens under six months and proposed legislation on the import of pets.

The Government also announced an Online Advertising Programme which will look at the regulation of online advertising and whether there is a case for strengthening the regulatory framework. A consultation is expected

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