It’s getting harder to buy a puppy in the U.K.

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

If you run a pet shop in the United States you should be keeping an eye on what’s going on across the pond in Britain. Pet stores and other third-party sellers there are finding it harder to sell puppies, and the trend is growing here as well.

According to a recent BBC report, more than 143,000 people in the United Kingdom signed a petition that supports “Lucy’s Law,” a proposed legislation that bans the sale of puppies by businesses. The effort is being led by a woman who said her own dog, Lucy, suffered years of abuse at a puppy farm. The issue was debated this week in Parliament.

In the U.K. an estimated 80,000 dogs are sold annually as part of the country’s legalized puppy trade, which includes pet stores, farms and people’s homes. Unfortunately, the industry has created a growing number of “sick, traumatized and dysfunctional” dogs, according to the petition, particularly due to premature removal from their mothers.

The laws in the U.K. for businesses selling puppies have already become more stringent. Puppies must be at least 8 weeks old before they can be sold, and the pup must be shown for sale only in the presence of its mother. Animal welfare advocates there — including comedian Ricky Gervais and other celebrities — say those restrictions are not enough. Government ministers have promised to explore the issue further in coming months.

The battle is heating up in the United States.

The Puppy Mill Project, an advocacy group based in Chicago, says there are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States where more than 2 million dogs are bred each year. According to U.S. News and World Report, Maryland and California have passed laws in the past year banning retail pet stores from selling puppies and kittens, and more than 250 municipalities have their own restrictions. Lawmakers in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are working on similar legislation.

But some U.S. pet stores are fighting back. A lobby representing the industry has been behind legislation in Arizona and Ohio that preempts municipalities from passing bans on pet store sales of puppies.

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