Pet shops will not be allowed to sell a dog, cat or rabbit to any individual under the age of 16 from Wednesday.
Customers under this age must be accompanied by their parents or legal guardian in order to purchase an animal, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Monday.
Pet retailers must also conduct a mandatory pre-sale screening for each transaction to assess if a customer would make a suitable pet owner before he buys a pet, including ensuring that the customer has read up on the pet, is familiar with its characteristics and knows a veterinarian that the pet could be taken to when ill.
"These new licensing conditions will help reduce impulse buying of pets by children and ensure potential buyers understand the implications and responsibilities of being a pet owner," said AVA.
The conditions are also aimed at minimising "the downstream problems of pet abandonment or poor pet care".
AVA said it will institute a six-month grace period to allow pet retailers to adjust and comply with the new licensing conditions.
Following that, it will take enforcement action against non-compliant retailers.
The new licensing conditions were developed in consultation with the Pets Enterprises and Traders Association, pet retailers and in line with the Animal Welfare Legislative Review Committee's recommendations made in March this year.
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