The Walloon government definitively adopted on Thursday the decree relating to the conditions for the approval of establishments for animals, notably signaling the end, from March 1, 2023, of puppy mills.
The standards governing establishments for animals, such as businesses, shelters, dog and cat farms, as well as pensions, are more than 20 years old for some of them. It was therefore essential to strengthen the legislative framework in this area, in view of the societal, scientific but also ethical developments of recent years, explains, in a press release, the Walloon Minister in charge of animal welfare, Céline Tellier.
In concrete terms, the minimum accommodation standards will be increased, up to doubling the minimum surfaces for dogs and cats. Unless there is a veterinary contraindication, animals can no longer be kept alone at all times. Training will also be mandatory for facility managers, or at least one member of their staff. This obligation will come into force on January 1, 2026, in order to give them time to adapt.
The establishments will also have to give a series of information to buyers, in particular concerning the needs of the animal and its specificities, and go through a list of questions to ask themselves before acquiring an animal.
With regard to the management of dog or cat breeding, the decree reduces the number of litters per female and sets a minimum and maximum age for gestation. It also removes the breeder-trader status and limits the number of different breeds that can be bred to 2. Finally, from July 1, 2023, the import of puppies for sale will be prohibited.
Several support mechanisms will be put in place to help the structures concerned to implement these new standards, with in particular a transitional period of five years for them to adapt their infrastructures. For shelters, this period is extended to ten years, due to their non-profit activity. These will be supported through specific calls for projects.
“It was high time to reform the law. This text marks the end of the unbearable “puppy mills” and the importation of animals from foreign farms, too often raised and imported in deplorable conditions for their health. Today we are a game changer for pets“, comments Minister Tellier.