WALES should following England's example and introduce plans to ban puppy farms and other third-party animals sales, campaigners have said.

The UK Government's environment secretary Michael Gove has announced a consultation into plans to ban the sale of animals younger than six months old from pet shops and so-called puppy or kitten farms. This, the government has said, will mean buyers will have to deal directly with breeders or rescue centres and will stamp out dealers keeping animals in poor conditions.

But, as animal welfare is a devolved issue, the new rules will only apply to England.

And now Welsh secretary Alun Cairns has called on the Welsh Government to bring in similar rules.

"Wales is a nation of animal lovers and it is vital that we maintain the highest standards of animal welfare," he said.

"The UK Government is serious about improving welfare in breeding establishments and at the point of sale to ensure our much loved pets get the right start in life.

"This announcement today marks a further step in the UK Government’s aim to raise standards in England. I would encourage the Welsh Government to implement the same measures in Wales."

The consultation is being launched following the Lucy's Law campaign, which has been calling for a halt to third-party animal sales.

Former leader of the Welsh Conservatives, now the party's shadow rural affairs secretary, Andrew RT Davies, has also called for Wales to follow England's example.

“This is a welcome move from Michael Gove and demonstrates the Conservatives’ commitment to have the highest animal welfare standards in the world," he said.

“Rural south west Wales has the biggest concentration in the UK of commercial dog breeders, and it is sadly widely acknowledged that some are churning out puppies in terrible conditions.

“Irresponsible breeders can contribute to a chaotic start in life and lead to serious health problems and lack of socialisation for puppies and kittens.

“The Lucy’s Law campaign has fought tirelessly for this ban to be introduced to stop irresponsible breeders using third parties and ensure all breeders are accountable.

“The Labour Welsh Government must now follow suit and ensure Wales becomes a truly animal friendly nation.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We are currently looking at the possibility of banning the sale of kittens and puppies via third parties in Wales.

“In the meantime we continue to endorse the work of the Pet Advertising Advisory Council covering issues such as the responsible advertising and sourcing of all pets, including kittens.”

Announcing the proposed new law, Mr Gove said: “A ban on third-party sales will ensure the nation’s much-loved pets get the right start in life.

“People who have a complete disregard for pet welfare will no longer be able to profit from this miserable trade.”

The news has also been welcomed by animal welfare charities including the Dogs Trust, as well as the Kennel Club, which organises Crufts.

Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said: "When this policy is implemented it will stop the suffering of many dogs and send a very strong message to puppy buyers that it is never ok to see a puppy in any environment other than the one it was born and raised in, and with its mum."

A petition supporting the Lucy's Law campaign signed by 150,000 people was debated in Parliament in May.