Pet shops are to be banned from selling kittens and puppies by the government in a crackdown aimed at stopping puppy farming.
Third-party sales of cats or dogs under six months old will be prohibited, meaning buyers will have to deal directly with the breeder or an authorised rehoming centre.
The move, announced by the the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), follows public consultation that found 95% of the public supported for such a ban.
It follows new laws, which came into force on 1 October, that banned licensed sellers from dealing in puppies and kittens under eight weeks old.
Earlier this year, a petition backing the Lucy’s Law campaign to halt to sales by third-party commercial dealers was signed by 150,000 people and triggered a debate in parliament.
Defra said the ban, which will be introduced “when parliamentary time allows” in 2019, would make it harder for “high-volume, low-welfare breeders” to operate.
Animal welfare minister David Rutley, who announced the ban on Sunday, paid tribute to the Lucy’s Law campaign, saying the government was committed to making sure “the nation’s much-loved pets get the right start in life”.
He said: “I urge anyone who is thinking of buying a puppy, or any pet, at this time of year to pause and think carefully before doing so.”
Marc Abraham, the TV vet and founder of Pup Aid and the Lucy’s Law campaign, said it was “a real victory for grassroots campaigners as well as the UK’s dogs and cats”.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home’s chief executive, Claire Horton, said: “Properly enforced, this will help put an end to dogs being used as breeding machines and kept in shocking conditions.
“The days of unscrupulous puppy dealers lining their pockets with no regard for animal welfare must now come to an end.”
The RSPCA’s deputy chief executive, Chris Wainwright, said: “We believe that cracking down on unscrupulous traders, who put profit ahead of animal welfare, will provide much-needed protection for prospective pet owners and animals.
“We have always said that an end to third-party sales alone would not be enough to end the puppy trade crisis and we are pleased that this is being looked at alongside enhanced licensing conditions for breeders introduced earlier this year.”