Kennel Club’s Manifesto For Dogs Updated Ahead Of Snap General Election

From how dogs are bred, to how they are acquired, trained and exercised, the Kennel Club’s ‘A Dog’s Life’ manifesto makes recommendations for a new Government on measures which need to be taken to improve dog welfare at every stage of life - and it has been updated to consider the implications and opportunities around Brexit.

Despite the existence of the European Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), puppy smuggling and puppy dealing is currently a huge problem for the puppy buying public when it comes to sourcing their pets as is the large number of unlicensed breeders – and indeed licenced breeders who do not meet their licence requirements.  As well as tightening controls on smugglers causing puppies to suffer by transporting them in appalling conditions and without the correct vaccinations, the Kennel Club believes more needs to be done to tighten up and properly enforce breeding regulations and to help puppy buyers tell the difference between unethical puppy farmers and puppy dealers and the many responsible breeders across the UK.

The Kennel Club believes that both enforcement of breeding regulations and awareness of responsible breeders could be aided hugely by incorporating its Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS) formally into the licensing system.  Whereas local authorities currently licence just 1000 breeders, with many breeders operating illegally, the ABS inspects over 5000 breeders across the UK. If members of the scheme continued to be inspected by the Kennel Club, and in doing so received a local authority licence for a reduced fee, then many more good breeders would join the scheme and awareness and visibility of responsible breeders would increase rapidly.  This would help to signpost puppy buyers to responsible breeders who are doing what they should be for the health and welfare of their puppies and breeding bitches.  At the same time, local authorities’ scant resources would be freed up to deal with those breeders who are currently not inspected.  This kind of information sharing between the Kennel Club and local authorities is the only way that regulations can be properly enforced going forward and has been tried and tested as part of a pilot project the Kennel Club has conducted with a select group of local authorities.

As well as calls for better enforcement on breeding regulations via the Assured Breeder Scheme, the Kennel Club wants to see one of the scheme’s rules formally taken up by Government  - a ban on the third party sale of puppies, such as in pet shops and via online retailers.  Again, cutting off this trade would encourage people to turn to responsible breeders to source their puppies, rather than to dealers.

For those who are cruel to animals, or who train them to be aggressive, the Kennel Club calls for tougher sentences – an increase of 18 months from the current six months to two years imprisonment to bring the UK in line with other European countries and to highlight that animal cruelty in any form must not be tolerated.

To encourage responsible dog ownership, and also to ensure dogs are able to be exercised off lead in open green spaces without unnecessary restrictions, the Kennel Club works with local authorities when they are introducing Public Spaces Protection Orders relating to dogs.  Unfortunately many proposed Orders, if passed, would severely impact responsible dog owners from walking their dogs freely. It is for this reason that prior to the election the Kennel Club has worked closely with government to update guidance for local authorities to make it explicit that Orders should be proportionate, evidence based and as unrestrictive as possible. The Kennel Club’s manifesto calls on an incoming government to circulate this guidance as soon as possible.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Our updated Dog’s Life manifesto highlights what the Kennel Club does to help dogs and their owners at every stage of their lives, and also where we believe government intervention is necessary.  Prior to the election being called we had seen some progress in areas such as breeding and simple everyday routines, such as walking a dog. We hope that these will be followed through by the new government and that they may go even further in some areas to protect dog health and welfare and dog owner’s rights.

“We have also considered the implications of Brexit on dog health and welfare, in particular looking at the Pet Travel Scheme and the opportunities for the future.  While it is imperative that dog owners should be able to continue to travel freely with their pet dogs, it is equally important that more is done to tackle the commercial movement of dogs which is detrimental to the long term health and welfare of puppies and also poses risks to human health”.