Kennel Club urge collaborative action to combat puppy farming in Wales as new research highlights crisis

Following the long-awaited announcement that Lucy’s Law, which bans the third party sale of puppies and kittens, will be coming into effect in Wales alongside a review of breeding regulations, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to the welfare of dogs is urging Assembly Members to consider its action plan to help local authorities clamp down on puppy farmers.

The Kennel Club report: ‘Collaboration is Key: the way forward for Welsh dog breeding regulations’ proposes a solution to help local authorities enforce the regulations and raise breeding standards to eradicate rogue breeders and promote responsible breeders.

This comes as new research, released this week to coincide with the Kennel Club’s Puppy Awareness Week, shows that one in ten Welsh dog owners admit they may have bought a puppy farmed dog, and over one in three acknowledge they wouldn’t recognise the warning signs of a rogue breeder. This is 5 per cent more than in 2018.

While current regulations constituted a major shake-up in 2014, they have had little impact due to poorly resourced local authorities being unable to enforce these new laws single-handedly. In response, the Kennel Club’s ‘Collaboration is Key’ report urges the government to consider utilising its Assured Breeder Scheme to alleviate the burden on local authorities, which alongside Lucy’s Law, could genuinely and effectively help to combat the puppy farming crisis in Wales and the hundreds of thousands of sick and badly treated pups being sold.

Figures in the report highlight the inconsistency in the application of the law with some local authorities inspecting and licensing relatively large numbers of breeders, whilst others aren’t inspecting or licensing any. The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme suspended 12 breeders in Wales in 2018 whilst the local authorities only revoked two licences in 2016 and 17.

The report sets out how better collaboration would enable the Kennel Club to inspect the premises of dog breeders who are members of its independently accredited Assured Breeder Scheme; freeing up valuable local authority resources to tackle bad breeders whilst reducing the financial burden on those who are responsible, and prioritise health and welfare. This would help avoid duplicate inspections, additional paperwork and associated costs.

With almost three quarters of puppy buyers (73%) saying they would be interested in a list of breeders who have been checked by an independent approved body to help them find a responsibly bred puppy more easily, the proposed system would also help to inform puppy buyers’ decisions, increase demand for responsible breeders and help to eradicate puppy farms; ultimately improving the health and welfare of pet dogs and the standards of breeding.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “Without collaboration, tighter regulations do not equate to better enforcement. It’s so important that the Welsh Government learns from both the successes and failures of other UK jurisdictions in their approach to updating dog breeding regulations, and strike the right balance between making proper improvements without overcomplicating the system for those involved. We believe that by avoiding duplicate inspections, rewarding the best breeders and freeing up resources to target rogue breeders, this will benefit local authorities, puppy buyers and most importantly of course, the health and welfare of puppies being bred.

This is critical now at a time when illegal puppy trafficking is rife and thousands of puppies are being smuggled into the country from Eastern Europe to sell to an unsuspecting UK market. Similarly, as Lucy’s Law comes into effect, this is the perfect opportunity to work together to drive puppy farmers out of business.”

Read the Kennel Club’s report on proposed dog breeding regulations, ‘Collaboration is Key: The Way Forward for Breeding Regulations’.