New Regulations on the sale or supply of pet animals now in force
On the 1st February 2020 new regulations on the sale or supply of pet animals came into force in Ireland. The Animal Health and Welfare (Sale or Supply of Pet Animals) Regulations 2019, place legal responsibilities on any person selling or supplying six or more pet animals including dogs, cats and other pet animals, in any calendar year. Those that do must register with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) by May 1st 2020 unless they are already registered with a local authority under the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010.
‘Pet Animal’ is defined as an animal kept or intended to be kept by a person:
- As a pastime or hobby
- For companionship
- For ornamental purposes
- For any combination of the above
- But does not include farm animals or equines
The Regulations set out the minimum age at which certain pet animals can be sold or supplied. So a person cannot sell or supply any unweaned pet animal, or:
- A dog or cat under the age of 8 weeks
- A rabbit under the age of 6 weeks
- A guinea pig, gerbil or hamster under the age of 4 weeks
- A ferret under the age of 8 weeks
- A mouse or rat under the age of 4 weeks
Register of Sellers or Suppliers & Register of Premises
All persons that sell or supply 6 or more pet animals in any calendar year is required to register with DAFM. The premises from which the pet animals are sold or supplied must also be registered.
DAFM may attach conditions to any entry in the register, including:
- A restriction on the species, type, number or age of pet animals either generally or pet animals of a particular class or description that may be kept, sold or supplied on the premises
- A requirement for a minimum level of training appropriate to the species or type of pet animal kept, sold or supplied on the premises to be undertaken by any person responsible for the care of the animal
A person registered on the register of persons involved in the sale or supply of pet animals, must not sell or supply any pet animals from a premises that is not on the register of premises.
Conditions of Registration
An application for registration can be refused or registration can be revoked if:
- The Animal Health and Welfare Act and these Regulations have not or will not be complied with
- The applicant or registered person has committed an offence under any legislation relating to animal health and welfare
- If the operation of a premises poses a danger to the health or welfare of animals
- If a premises is not in a fit condition for the purposes of these regulations
- If the applicant of registered person has failed to comply with a condition of registration
- If the premises is not properly or adequately equipped to dispose of waste products and materials, including used bedding
- If the applicant of person registered is not (in the opinion of the Minister) a fit person to be registered
- If the applicant or registered person has failed to provide relevant information or has provided information that is false or misleading
- It is necessary to prevent the risk or spread of disease
- It is necessary to eradicate or control disease
- It is necessary for the purpose of complying with EU legislation
Keeping of Records
Any person who sells or supplies 6 or more pet animals in a calendar year must maintain the following records for each animal sold:
- The name and address of the person from whom an animal is obtained
- The date an animal is obtained
- The date that an animal is sold or supplied
- Description of the animal, including species, breed, sex, colour and distinctive markings, physical condition and health where practicable, age and animal identification (e.g. microchip)
- The name and address of the person to whom each animal is sold or supplied and date of sale or supply
- Details of disposal of any animal not sold or supplied, including cause of death, method of (and reason for) euthanasia, circumstances of escape and the date of death or escape
- For each animal receiving veterinary care, clinical signs, diagnosis, type of service provided and veterinary practitioner’s name
All of the above records must be kept for a period of no less than three years and must be made available on request to an authorised officer
Advertising for Sale or Supply a Pet Animal
Under the Regulations a person shall not, without reasonable excuse, publish or display, or cause to be published or displayed, an advertisement of a pet animal for sale or supply, without including in the advertisement the following information:
- The DAFM registration number of the person selling or supplying the pet animal or
- The Dog Breeding Establishment registration if applicable
- The age of the animal
- The country of origin of the pet animal
- In the case of dogs, the microchip number of the animal
- In the case of a charity (under the meaning of the Charities Act 2009) the Registered Charity Number must be included
The seller or supplier of pet animal must not make any statement which they know to be false with a view to securing the publication or display of an advertisement of a pet animal for sale or supply that results in the advertisement being published or displayed.
“Advertisement” includes every form of advertising, whether to the public or not and whether in a newspaper or other publication, on television or radio or by display of a notice or by electronic means or by any other means.
IF ANY ADVERTISEMENT DOES NOT COMPLY WITH THE ABOVE IT SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE ADVERTISING PLATFORM OR TO THE RELEVANT AUTHORITIES.
Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, a pet owner has a legal duty to ensure the welfare of his animal(s). A pet’s welfare needs include:
- A proper diet
- Access to clean fresh drinking water
- 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 €250,000 or even a prison sentence up to 5 years.
Restricted Breed Dogs:
There are specific restrictions placed on dogs of the breeds listed under the Control of Dogs Regulations 1998. When in a public place such dogs must be muzzled and kept on a strong lead less than two metres in length held by a person over 16 years of age who is strong enough to handle the animal. They must also wear a collar and ID tag bearing the details of the owner at all times.
The dogs covered by these regulations are:
American Pit Bull Terrier
English Bull Terrier
German Shepherd (Alsation)
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The restrictions also extend to every dog of the type commonly known as a Ban Dog (or Bandog), and to every other strain or cross of every breed or type of dog described above.
Tail Docking / dew claw removal:
It is illegal for a lay-person to perform either of these procedures on any dog. It is lawful for a veterinary surgeon to perform the procedures on puppies of specified breeds (Spaniels, Pointers and Terriers) when they are less than 8 days old, if the veterinary professional has reasonable cause to believe that the pups will be used in lawful hunting or lawful pest control. Some evidence should be provided. 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.
Despite the legal situation outlined above, the Veterinary Council of Ireland has deemed tail docking to be unethical and so vets are not permitted to dock a dog’s tail unless it is for medical or therapeutic reasons.
Microchipping is now a legal requirement for all dogs and puppies once they are 12 weeks old. It is also a legal requirement to be in possession of a microchipping certificate and it is important your contact details are kept up-to-date. Failure to do so will be an offence under the Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013. The seller should provide you with details of the microchip. It is the buyers responsibility to inform the database operator of the change in owner’s details.
From 1st September 2015 all puppies over twelve weeks old must be microchipped before they are sold or supplied.
From March 2016 all dogs must be microchipped. This will allow 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. Failure to have your dog microchipped will be subject on summary conviction to a Class A fine of up to €5000.
While microchipping is recommended for all cat owners as well as dogs, there are no current plans to make microchipping compulsory for cats.
Under the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010, any premises where there are six or more female dogs which are more than six months old and capable of breeding must be licensed with their local authority. Breeders must not breed from a female dog less than a year old, more than six times overall in their lifetime or more than three times in any three year period.
When buying from a commercial breeder it is wise to ask to see their licence, and look out for very young or exhausted dams (mothers). There is no equivalent legislation for other household pets.
Species to which CITES restrictions apply should be accompanied by appropriate paperwork. Any species listed on Appendix I of CITES or ANNEX A of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations must be accompanied by the relevant certificate, issued by the CITES Management Authority