The Kennel Club is calling on the Welsh government to urgently give a voice to dogs during a time of uncertainty.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has never been a more important time to ensure dogs and their owners are supported, with the demand for puppies having increased drastically during lockdown. As such, the new Kennel Club manifesto, ‘A Voice for Dogs’, calls upon the Welsh government to ensure the laws surrounding the welfare of dogs are robust and can be reshaped where needed in order to deliver far greater protection for dogs across the UK. The ten-point plan highlights the key issues facing dogs and their owners, and details the legislative changes and measures which need to be taken.
During the current time, the Kennel Club has been working in conjunction with the Welsh Kennel Club to provide up-to-date advice to those involved in breeding dogs, transferring dogs, rescue dogs and training dogs. However, the demand for puppies during lockdown has seen an unprecedented surge, with searches for puppies via the Kennel Club’s ‘Find a Puppy’ tool increasing by 168 per cent from March 23rd until the end of May in comparison to the same period last year.
Worryingly, according to the Kennel Club research, 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.
As such, the manifesto raises concerns as to where the supply of puppies will come from if demand remains high, and with responsible breeders not currently breeding due to the unstable situation.
The manifesto places an emphasis on encouraging responsible dog breeding. The Kennel Club welcomes the commitment the Welsh Government has made to reviewing the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014 as well as introducing a ban on the third party sale of puppies. However, it is vital that the Welsh Government strikes the right balance in ensuring that those who regularly breed dogs for commercial gain are meeting appropriate health and welfare standards, whilst encouraging low volume, high welfare breeders to continue to breed. This would involve improving the training available to local authority inspectors and increasing the powers available to them, as well as incentivising low volume domestic breeders to breed puppies to ensure a good supply of happy and healthy pet dogs.
Furthermore, with evidence from the insurance company Agria proving that the requirements of the UKAS-accredited Assured Breeder Scheme are achieving the aim of ensuring healthier puppies, the Kennel Club also recommends allowing the scheme to self-regulate its members. This would avoid duplicated local authority inspections on responsible breeders, and thereby prioritising scrutiny on high volume breeders, many of whom are currently breaching regulatory requirements.
Holly Conway, Head of Public Affairs at the Kennel Club said: “We have made great strides in giving a voice to dogs, but there is still so much that needs to be done, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only heightened the importance of this.
“There has never been a more crucial time to ensure the responsible breeding of healthy and happy puppies, as well as making sure that dog owners are equipped with the necessary guidance for responsible dog ownership. We look forward to working with the government to ensure these 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 in Wales:
- Increase powers for local authorities enforcing dog breeding offences by allowing them to issue Fixed Penalty Notices and improve training to improve consistency of enforcement
- Allow the UKAS-accredited Assured Breeder Scheme to self-regulate its members, thereby avoiding duplicated local authority inspections
- Introduce a risk based licensing model to allow local authorities to inspect high risk/less responsible breeders more frequently and issue low risk/responsible breeders longer licences
- Incentivise low volume domestic breeders to breed puppies to ensure a good supply of happy and healthy pet dogs and ensure that the licensing system is more proportionate for low volume breeders
- Avoid complex and unenforceable registration requirements for high welfare and low volume breeders
- Review the Microchipping of Dogs (Wales) Regulations 2015
- Educate pet owners on the importance of keeping their dogs’ microchip details up to date
- End the practice of duplicated registrations to aid reunification, and raise standards of database operators and implanter training providers to ensure a better service for pet owners
- Commission behaviour change experts to develop a campaign to reduce the prevalence of livestock worrying by unaccompanied dogs
- Assess and promote best practice, non-legislative measures which will empower dog walkers to avoid livestock and conflict on their walks
Read The Kennel Club manifesto and more information about how The Kennel Club acts as a voice for dogs.