Ahead of the General Election on December 12th, the new Kennel Club manifesto, ‘A Voice for Dogs’, calls upon the incoming government to reshape the laws surrounding dog welfare and provide stronger support to their owners. The wide-ranging nine-point plan highlights the key issues facing dogs and their owners, and details the legislative changes and measures which need to be taken to deliver far greater protection for dogs across the UK.
The manifesto refers to the commitments made by the previous government, following ongoing campaigning by the Kennel Club against the barbaric use of electric shock collars. After widespread cross-party support and a public consultation, the previous government announced its intention to ban these devices. However, as a result of a High Court legal challenge which was recently dismissed, this legislation was unable to be introduced before the early dissolution of parliament. With the next government equipped to introduce the ban, the Kennel Club want to see this implemented without any further delay.
The manifesto also places an emphasis on encouraging responsible dog breeding. The Kennel Club welcomed the partial integration of their Assured Breeder Scheme into 2018 breeding regulations which rewards responsible breeders, but is urging the government to simplify them further. Currently many trustworthy, low-volume home breeders are being deterred from breeding altogether, leaving a void in the market which is likely to be exploited by puppy farmers. The Kennel Club therefore recommends removing the burdensome ‘business test’ for breeders who breed one or two litters a year as well as simplifying the steps that breeders of three or four litters need to take in order to get a licence.
Empowering owners and their ability to exercise their dogs safely and responsibly is also addressed in the manifesto. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 specifies a legal requirement for those responsible for dogs to provide them with suitable exercise, however since the introduction of Public Spaces Protection Orders under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, dog walkers are increasingly being left without accessible or practical spaces to walk their dogs. Therefore, the Kennel Club is calling on the government to require local authorities to ensure dog walkers have access to suitable land to exercise their dogs as well as to amend the act to allow owners to challenge the validity of restrictive Public Spaces Protection Orders.
Holly Conway, Head of Public Affairs, said: “Our manifesto highlights the strides that the Kennel Club has made so far in giving a voice to dogs, but most importantly all that still needs to be achieved.
“Prior to the election being called, we welcomed firm commitments concerning shock collars and animal cruelty sentences, and it has been incredibly disappointing that these have been halted. We look forward to working with an incoming government to ensure these previous obligations are prioritised and that further measures are put in place to protect the welfare of dogs.”
The Kennel Club’s manifesto proposes the following measures needed to address the key issues facing dogs and their owners:
- Simplify breeding regulations, and incentivise low volume domestic breeders
- Review microchipping regulations
- Revise the current PSPO system regarding dog walking to ensure the provision of accessible and practical space
- Ban the use of remote control electric shock collars
- Increase maximum sentences for cruelty against dogs
- Implement more considered solutions to livestock worrying
- Review, consolidate and, where necessary, replace existing ‘dangerous dogs’ legislation
- Review the licensing system for domestic firework use
- Collaborate with the European Union to improve pet travel rules