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Vital move to tackle puppy scam crisis - Kennel Club becomes UKAS Accredited

16 April 2013    11:00

Kennel Club becomes the first and only organisation in the UK to get United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accreditation to certify dog breeders.

  • As many as one in five could be buying from cruel puppy farms.
  • Move recommended by Professor Bateson in his independent report into dog breeding.

Puppy buyers no longer need to be duped by rogue breeders, as the Kennel Club today announces that it is the only organisation in the UK to receive UKAS accreditation to certify breeders who belong to its Assured Breeder Scheme. The puppy breeding market is poorly regulated, meaning that many people struggle to identify good from bad breeders, often ending up with sick puppies that die prematurely or that cost thousands of pounds in veterinary treatment.

UKAS accreditation means that the Kennel Club now has recognition from the UK's foremost accreditation body to certify breeders, against the requirements of its Assured Breeder Scheme, and ensure that scheme members take all the necessary steps to breed quality, healthy puppies.

Accreditation by UKAS was recommended by Professor Sir Patrick Bateson, in the Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding in January 2010, as an important step to give puppy buyers a clear indication of who they should trust, as there is too much confusion in the puppy buying market and too many rogue breeders. Since the report, the situation has got even worse with people taking advantage of the relaxation of pet travel laws, which makes it easier to bring sickly pups into the country from abroad.

Kennel Club research has shown that many consumers buy their puppies from pet shops, online and newspaper free ads, outlets that can all be used by puppy farmers who breed purely for profit without any thought for the outcome of the puppies that they produce. Many puppy farmers do not let buyers see their premises and sell through dealers, going to great lengths to hide the awful conditions that the puppies are kept in - and Kennel Club research indicates that as many as one in five people may have bought their puppy from a puppy farm.

Professor Steve Dean, Kennel Club Chairman, said: "For far too long, puppy buyers have had little assurance about the puppy they take home, and especially how it has been raised and whether it will live a healthy and happy life.

"The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme was established in 2004 to help end this confusion, and is the only scheme in the UK that monitors breeders' activities to provide assurance on their commitment to health and welfare. We had been working closely with UKAS prior to Professor Bateson recommending we seek UKAS accreditation, and are delighted that we have now been granted this, enabling us to certify breeders under this robust scheme.

"The message is clear. Puppy buyers who want to be sure that they are going to a breeder who offers a genuinely high standard of health and welfare in caring for their dogs should go to a Kennel Club Assured Breeder."

Professor Sir Patrick Bateson commented: "My report into dog breeding in this country showed an urgent need for a robust accreditation scheme for breeders. The fact that the Kennel Club has now received UKAS recognition for its Assured Breeder Scheme is an important step forward and the buying public should be encouraged to purchase from these breeders, so as to put irresponsible breeders out of business."

Marc Abraham, TV vet and organiser of the annual Pup Aid event against puppy farming, said: "The number of puppies coming from puppy farms is growing at an alarming rate. The value of having an organisation such as the Kennel Club with independent accreditation to certify breeders should not be underestimated.
"I hope that all puppy buyers will stop buying from people that may be masquerading as good breeders, but who are not part of this scheme and that all responsible dog breeders sign up to the Assured Breeder Scheme so vets and vet nurses can direct prospective buyers towards them knowing they'll be choosing a happy, healthy puppy."

The Kennel Club has been through numerous audits with UKAS and made a number of amendments to the scheme to achieve recognition by UKAS as a competent evaluator, which has met international accreditation standards.
In an important move that helps the Kennel Club to fulfil its UKAS requirements, every new member of the scheme will be inspected before they are accepted, and all current members will be inspected within three years. Random checks will continue as in the past, particularly where any concerns are highlighted or when issues have been raised through feedback from puppy buyers.

Other long-standing rules of the scheme which remain include ensuring that all animals are kept and raised in good conditions, both parents are assessed using the appropriate health and DNA tests before they are bred from, and ensuring that the puppies are well socialised before going to new homes.
Last month the Kennel Club announced a set of updated rules forming the ABS Standard, which contain all of the compulsory requirements of the scheme. These revised rules retained many of the long-standing requirements of the scheme, but the wording was modified to add clarity about the exact requirements for members to achieve[2].

The Kennel Club will shortly be announcing a plan to demonstrate the impact that UKAS accreditation will have. As a transitional arrangement, this will include a system for clearly identifying which breeders have been visited under the Kennel Club's new accredited status. There will also be a plan for offering further incentives to Assured Breeders and for covering the inevitable costs of increased inspections.

Bill Lambert, Kennel Club Health and Breeder Services Manager, said: "Responsible dog breeders are passionate about producing puppies which live healthy, happy lives, and they fulfil all the expectations that responsible owners demand. But it is only Kennel Club Assured Breeders that are bound to this commitment by agreeing to mandatory health testing of their breeding animals, by opening their doors to allow inspection and by being committed to providing a service to puppy buyers throughout the life of the animal. Indeed many of our members go above and beyond the scheme's requirements.

"The scheme has continually developed since its inception, which meant that the further changes we needed to make to achieve formal accreditation by UKAS were straightforward. The greatest change is still to come as we increase the number of breeder assessment visits that we carry out so that there can be no doubt that those on the scheme are continuing to adopt the standards that we expect.

"We again urge all responsible breeders to join the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, which is the simplest and easiest way for us all to work together and ensure that puppy buyers find a responsible breeder and are not duped by somebody who is less committed to breeding healthy dogs. The scheme does not make any money for the Kennel Club; we have in fact subsidised the costs of the scheme for many years, but running it is just another example of how the Kennel Club makes a difference for dogs."


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