Kennel Club launches ‘the dog people’s manifesto’ ahead of general election as dog welfare at ‘crossroads’

Ahead of the General Election, The Kennel Club has launched ‘the dog people’s manifesto’ today (4 June), which calls on the incoming Government to reshape laws surrounding dog welfare, encourage responsible breeding and support owners in best caring for their pet.

The wide-ranging 8-point plan highlights the key issues facing owners and their pets, and details the legislative changes and alternative measures which need to be taken to better dog welfare, advocating education and behaviour change to bring about improvements.

This includes highlighting the delays and then failure of regulations to ban electric shock collars, despite widespread cross-party and public support in the previous Parliament, and urging the incoming Government to ensure this ban comes into a force as a priority, as well as revising current legislation around fireworks to reduce unnecessary distress and trauma to pets.

Elsewhere, The Kennel Club – which advocates for those responsible breeders it represents – is calling on an incoming Government to help people who want to breed healthy puppies and find them loving homes with the right families. Currently many low-volume, high-welfare home breeders are being deterred from breeding altogether, leaving a void in the market which is exploited by puppy farmers and rogue sellers who simply breed for profit without any regard for dog health or welfare, or the puppy’s future. The manifesto 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. The Kennel Club – whilst aware of calls for more stringent regulations – is uniquely placed to make recommendations in this sphere as the only organisation working with breeders, investing in dog health through breeding tools and resources, and ensuring a healthy supply of puppies by developing and offering health testing schemes.

The manifesto also addresses the need for decision-makers to encourage and empower people to exercise their dogs safely and responsibly, as the introduction of Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) is increasingly leaving dog walkers without accessible or practical spaces to walk their dogs.
Breed specific legislation is another challenge, and The Kennel Club manifesto underlines the need to overhaul the Dangerous Dogs Act, which – with its continued focus on seizing specific breeds or types of dog, rather than ensuring authorities have the power and resource for decisive action at the very early signs of any dog being out of control – has been failing to protect the public since it was introduced more than 30 years ago.

Holly Conway, Head of Public Affairs at The Kennel Club, said: “While animal welfare legislation has made strides forward since 2006, we are now at a crossroads. A lot of legislation concerning dogs – whilst positive and well-intended – is poorly enforced, and as such hasn’t been tested. And with calls for even more regulations rife, we must warn of the potentially many unintended negative consequences which could make it more burdensome and complicated for law-abiding, dog-loving people to own, breed and care for their pets.

Instead we urge focus on education and changing behaviours so that those who want to continue to breed, own and care for pet dogs can do so in a sensible, well-informed and responsible way. As an organisation which invests entirely in improving the health and welfare of dogs and working with responsible breeders, we very much look forward to working with an incoming Government to ensure previous obligations, like banning cruel electric shock collars, are prioritised, and that further measures are put in place to protect dog welfare and to help more owners provide the best care for their pets.”

The Kennel Club manifesto can be found here and more information about how The Kennel Club campaigns make a difference for dogs and their owners is available on The Kennel Club website.