LONDON • The British authorities have announced new rules to control smaller puppy breeders.
The move comes as leading dog charities prepare to receive thousands of puppies bought as Christmas presents, then abandoned within days of being "unwrapped".
The Dogs Trust says it dealt with thousands of unwanted dogs in the weeks after Christmas last year, with excuses given ranging from the puppy wagging its tail too much to eating too much food.
"We are a nation of dog lovers but it is crucial that puppies are cared for properly. We are aiming to reform Britain's licensing regime so that smaller puppy breeding establishments must abide by the same regulations and licensing rules as bigger breeders," Animal Welfare Minister George Eustice said on Sunday.
"We are also reviewing other animal related licensed activities such as pet sales to address problems associated with the growing trend for Internet sales that can contribute to impulse buying."
It could mean a breeding licence being needed when three or more litters of puppies are produced in a year.
Ms Claire Horton, CEO of the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, said: "We have long recognised the cruel problem of backstreet breeding in Britain. The government's proposals are encouraging, having listened to the important calls we have made in our nationwide campaign to end this unacceptable practice."
For the first time, the consultation will clarify that online retailers selling puppies be treated in the same way as high street pet shops by the local authorities, meaning they must abide by the same licensing and welfare regulations.