Welsh dog breeding regulations

 

The Welsh Government is due to vote on the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014 later this year. The Kennel Club believes they should be commended for being the first administration to address the issues surrounding current regulations relating to the breeding of dogs and intends to continue working with the Welsh Government to give advice and expertise in relation to the inspection of dog breeding premises.

The Kennel Club is now independently accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to inspect breeders as part of the Assured Breeder Scheme and as such is strongly placed to assist in the training of enforcers with regards to the inspection of breeding premises under the proposed regulations, or in undertaking inspections as a nominated inspector by a local authority as permitted within the regulations themselves.

We have previously highlighted our concerns regarding the additional work and responsibility placed on local authorities and feel that our proposals could be a real lifeline to aid already overstretched Welsh authorities.

The 1:20 Staff to Dog Ratio

Whilst the Kennel Club understands the concerns raised regarding the Government's decision to introduce a minimum staff to dog ratio of 1 full time attendant to 20 adult dogs, it believes this underlines the need to ensure that those inspecting dog breeding premises are adequately trained to assess the capabilities of those individuals caring for the dogs.

The Welsh Government has given local authorities, and the inspectors they appoint, full powers to reduce the ratio threshold if they feel this is necessary, with 1 full time member of staff to 20 adult dogs being the absolute minimum ratio set within the regulations. By assisting with inspections and the training of enforcers, the Kennel Club hopes that rather than just being a 'box-ticking' exercise, inspectors will be able to make an informed judgement as to whether individuals at different breeding premises have the skills and competence to handle varying numbers of dogs and litters of pups.

Funding and Resource Issues

As the Kennel Club has highlighted in the past, with limitations on local authority resources and funding, it is difficult to propose stronger and more prescriptive requirements for licensing dog breeding and expect effective enforcement, when even current requirements cannot be fulfilled by local authorities.

The Kennel Club is therefore piloting in Wales a system under which its Assured Breeder Scheme will help to train local authority inspectors, or Kennel Club trained assessors will undertake inspections on behalf of local authorities, following the licensing criteria and guidelines.  This is currently the case with vets occasionally undertaking inspections on behalf of the local authority and this is permitted within the regulations ("inspector - means any person who has written authority from a local authority to act in matters arising under or in relation to the Act or these Regulations").

The Kennel Club believes it is well placed to undertake such inspections since they are part of our regular operations and are where our expertise lies. Kennel Club assessors have to comply with standards agreed by UKAS and undergo ongoing training.

Going Forward

A number of Assembly Members have written to their local councils highlighting the Kennel Club's offer to help. As a result the Kennel Club has received an extremely positive response and we are in the process of developing a training programme to bring local authorities up to speed in terms of enforcement and best practice in inspections. This will help to ensure the best possible enforcement and implementation of the regulations for the benefit of dog welfare.

What Can You Do?

Regardless of whether you live in Wales, make sure your local authority is aware of any unscrupulous breeders operating in your area who you may have concerns about. Breeding establishments producing 5 or more litters require a licence and must adhere to specific requirements in regards to welfare under the Breeding and Sale of Dogs Act and the Animal Welfare Act.

Most importantly, if you visit one of these sites with the intention of purchasing a puppy and have concerns - WALK AWAY! Although you may feel sorry for the dogs and want to rescue them from the conditions they are living in, continuing to finance the breeders only prolongs the problem as it proves the demand, no matter what the motive.

For more information on the do's and don'ts of buying a puppy and more information on puppy farming go to the Kennel Club's Puppy Awareness Week webpage: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/our-resources/kennel-club-campaigns/puppy-farming/puppy-awareness-week/

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