Wigan campaign to tighten up puppy selling rules drawing widespread support

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Animal lovers and politicians are backing the call for stricter online regulations around purchasing pets.

Justice for Reggie was started by Richard Ackers and Alicia Sherman, from Abram, after a young labrador puppy they bought from a website died a few days later having been diagnosed with parvovirus.

Their petition for Reggie’s Law to regulate online animal sales had gathered almost 9,000 signatures by Wednesday morning, close to the threshold of 10,000 which will necessitate a government response.

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Alicia Sherman from the Justice for Reggie campaign with her son EthanAlicia Sherman from the Justice for Reggie campaign with her son Ethan
Alicia Sherman from the Justice for Reggie campaign with her son Ethan

Richard and Alicia have also been speaking to dozens of supportive MPs, including West Lancashire representative Rosie Cooper, whose constituency includes Up Holland.

The issue has also attracted support from leading national animal welfare organisations and charities, while the campaign has also organised meetings with a number of major websites where pets are sold.

However, despite all the progress Richard says he and Alicia will not be satisfied until actual laws or strict rules are put in place to prevent other people going through the ordeal they experienced when buying Reggie.

He said: “We’re really passionate about this and we’ve got time on our hands with Covid so we’re doing all we can.

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“We’ve met and spoken to a lot of people and done quite a bit but we’ve achieved nothing yet. It’s all well and good speaking to people but we’ve got to get something. This isn’t done until we’ve got Reggie’s Law.”

The campaign has also been speaking to Government departments and is calling for a national summit bringing together charities, campaigns, MPs, parliamentary groups, local authorities, law enforcement agencies and supporters to try to end illegal puppy farming.

Last year the Government banned third-party commercial sales of puppies with legislation known as Lucy’s Law but Justice for Reggie says this does not go far enough and remains full of problematic loopholes.

The campaign is calling for a raft of legal measures including strict rules on animal-selling websites, fixed addresses for breeders so they can be inspected, mandatory rules on newborn puppies visiting vets and receiving documents, a review of dog breeding regulations and higher penalties for those caught breaking the law.

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The RSPCA encouraged anyone buying dogs to support a local rescue centre to ensure they did not end up inadvertently putting money in the pockets of criminal gangs profiting from puppy farming.

Dogs Trust has also offered official support to Justice for Reggie. Paula Boyden, the charity’s veterinary director, said: “What happened to Reggie is absolutely devastating but sadly it is not uncommon.

“Dogs have been a lifeline to many during lockdown, but unfortunately the ‘pandemic puppy boom’ has only worsened the commoditisation of dogs and therefore their poor treatment.

“Sadly, there are many people out there who make their money from duping dog lovers into buying poorly bred puppies, putting profit before dog welfare.

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“Whilst we would encourage anyone wanting to welcome a dog into their life to consider adopting a rescue dog, we do understand that some people may want to buy a puppy directly from a breeder.

“In those circumstances we would encourage everyone to follow our buyer advice. If something seems too good to be true, the chances are it is and we would encourage dog lovers to report the seller to their local authority’s Trading Standards department.”

To find out more about Justice for Reggie, visit www.justiceforreggie.co.uk/our-mission.

To sign the petition, visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/587654?fbclid=IwAR2oqJk4cKdMS2JBbI1XzzNs02THfszlSRR0x-m50jhDN_-tnsvandZOV2M

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