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Senior Politicians Help Launch Kennel Club's Canine Manifesto

Animal Welfare Minister, Lord de Mauley and Angela Smith MP, Shadow Minster for Animal Welfare, were guest speakers at the Kennel Club's launch of its 'A Dog's Life' manifesto on Saturday (8th November).

The manifesto, which focuses on dog health and welfare, was launched at the Kennel Club's annual Discover Dogs event at Earls Court, and aims to guide a future government on issues pertinent to those passionate about dogs and what more can be done to improve the lives of the 9 million dogs living in the UK.

The manifesto, introduced by Kennel Club Vice Chairman, Mike Townsend, sets out the Kennel Club's vision for legislative changes that can help to protect dogs and is divided into sections that reflect all aspects of a dog's life - from breeding and acquisition to dog training, responsible dog ownership and everyday living, and includes a section on preventing unnecessary animal testing and the development of alternative testing methods.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "We have made huge strides in relation to some dog welfare issues, such as the future compulsory microchipping of dogs, but we continue to face significant challenges in this country in terms of dog welfare and the place of dogs in society. The issues range from the unscrupulous breeding of puppies for profit through to the access that dogs are given to open space for exercise.

"We would like to see old legislation updated or replaced, including that which focuses on breeding, so that standards akin to those followed by Kennel Club Assured Breeders are made mandatory for all and are fit for purpose in the modern age of health screening.

"We need legislation to focus on the importance of ensuring dogs are responsibly trained, in order to minimise dog-related incidents and ensure mandatory standards, similar to those followed by Kennel Club Accredited Instructors, are in place for dog trainers and behaviourists.

"There are also more recent legislative changes that have had an impact on dog welfare and which need consideration. These include changes to the Pet Travel Scheme, which has led to an increase in puppies being illegally imported into the country for commercial sale, and the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill, which may have an impact on the access dogs and dog owners have to public spaces if they are not fully engaged in the consultation process that needs to be followed before such restrictions can be made.

"As a nation of dog lovers, approximately a quarter of households include a dog and a recent YouGov survey shows that animal welfare is a key issue for voters when determining how they will vote, so we feel that the issues covered in the manifesto are important to the electorate and for a future government to consider. We look forward to continuing working closely with Defra on these issues."

Some of the key recommendations raised in the Manifesto, include:

- Improve the quality of breeding and of the standards that are mandatory, by updating existing breeding legislation to enshrine the principles of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme.

- Work with the Kennel Club to help tackle the inconsistent approach to licensing and enforcing breeding legislation. The Kennel Club provides training to its Regional Breeder Assessors, who visit members of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme. It is developing a training programme for local authorities in Wales, and urges the government to consider a similar approach, to ease the pressure on local authority resources.

- Prohibit the sale of puppies in pet shops, which is one outlet that is used by irresponsible breeders.

- Clamp down on those illegally importing puppies for commercial sale under the new Pet Travel Scheme rules, and ensure that enforcement rests with the border agencies, rather than ferry companies, with resources focused on Holyhead, Dover and the Eurotunnel, which is where the vast majority of imports pass through.         

- Prohibit the sale and use of electronic shock collars.

- Adopt the Kennel Club Accredited Instructor requirements as an industrybased standard for all dog trainers and behaviourists, as the only scheme fordog trainers and behaviourists to be approved by City and Guilds NPTC.

- Update, consolidate and replace existing legislation on dog control with preventative legislation and measures based on the principle of 'deed notbreed'.

- Collect data and investigate all serious dog biting incidents so that the causescan be better understood and effective preventative action taken.

- Record information relating to Public Spaces Protection Orders from localauthorities, and require them to engage with local dog owners when introducing Orders relating to dog walking, since the Anti Social BehaviourCrime and Policing Act no longer requires consultations related to restrictions on dog access to be advertised in the local newspaper.

Animal Welfare Minister, Lord de Mauley and Angela Smith MP, Shadow Minster for Animal Welfare, were guest speakers at the Kennel Club's launch of its 'A Dog's Life' manifesto on Saturday (8thNovember).