The Kennel Club has welcomed the government’s plans to tighten up laws around selling pets and breeding dogs as ‘a step in the right direction’.
The changes will see a complete ban on the sale of puppies under the age of eight weeks by commercial third parties, which under current legislation is still allowed.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Kennel Club regulations state that breeders must not sell registered dogs to commercial dealers or pet shops and we continue to call for a ban on third party sales. This new rule will help protect those puppies who are being sold by commercial third parties from going onto their new homes when to do so could compromise their welfare. We also welcome the requirement for pet sellers to provide written information to their customers about how to best care for animals purchased.
The Kennel Club is a leading member of the Pet Advertising Advisory Group, which works to improve the welfare of pets being sold online. The proposal to make it mandatory for those who sell pets online to display their licence number is welcomed, as it will improve traceability and help ensure that those who are trading online are complying with the law.
However, the Kennel Club has some concerns about how local authorities will enforce the new licensing regime, now that breeders who breed three or more litters will require a licence.
Caroline continued: “Our main concern, as the litter licensing threshold is set to reduce from five litters to three, is that already overstretched local authorities are given the support they need to enforce the legislation. When a similar measure was taken forward in Wales, the number of licences issued the following year actually reduced, indicating that many breeders were falling through the gaps.
“We look forward to working with Defra on plans to incorporate our UKAS accredited Assured Breeder Scheme formally into the proposed risk based licensing system. We are of the view that Assured Breeders should be deemed ‘low risk’ and be able to continue to be inspected by Kennel Club assessors without the need for duplicate inspections from their local authority – or the added cost. This would allow for local authorities to focus their resources on higher risk breeders and should encourage good breeders to join the scheme – which requires high welfare standards for dog breeding.”
The higher welfare standards that the scheme demands will over time improve the welfare of dogs being bred. Data released by Agria Pet Insurance last year revealed that dogs bred by members of the Assured Breeder Scheme are costing owners on average 18 per cent less in unplanned veterinary fees and are 23 per cent less likely to need to visit the vet. Furthermore, among older dogs, those bred by Assured Breeders are 34 per cent less likely to need veterinary treatment, resulting in vet bills that are 27 per cent less for their owners.
The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme requires that breeders conform to high welfare standards for dog breeding, which are greater than those required by those who are simply licensed by their local authorities. This includes issuing a contract of sale, giving post sales advice to the puppy buyer and carrying out relevant mandatory health tests before breeding.
The Kennel Club will work with Defra on developing the details of proposals outlined in the Annual Licensing Review.