A truly Orwellian vision of dog breeding in the U.K. in the 21st century has just been outlined by the Dog Advisory Council.
Last week it issued its latest recommendations to the government and suggests that anyone who breeds a dog should be registered with their local authority, be given a registration number and give their address and details to the veterinary practice they use.
Do they really mean anyone?
Not surprisingly the Kennel Club in the U.K. has branded the suggestions “disproportionate.” The Kennel Club is rightly worried that responsible breeders could be deterred from breeding, and this would leave puppy buyers in the hands of those with lower standards.
The DAC was set up in the wake of the infamous “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” TV programme to make independent recommendations about the future of dog breeding, and this latest round of suggestions sees the DAC recommending to Government that that anyone breeding two or more litters a year should be licensed and that “enforcement authorities” should be allowed to remove the breeding licence if the person or establishment fails to comply with improvement or care notices issued under the welfare Acts.
Local authorities in the U.K. are already unable to cope with current regulations they supposedly enforce, so it is difficult see how they would be able to inspect all breeders, maintain a database and enforce standards.
The DAC recommended that advertisements for puppies should include the breeder’s registration number, and all breeders should comply with the DAC’s “Standard for Breeding Dogs,” which should become a statutory code of practice, it says. These standards, which were announced a year ago, comprise 53 separate suggestions, including that dogs and bitches used at stud must be at least 2 years old before being bred from, and bitches should have one litter only a year and no more than four in a lifetime – and only one Caesarean section.
It also recommends that essential elements of the new regulations should impose new duties of care on those planning a mating of dogs and any organisation exercising public duties with regard to the establishment of breed Standards.
And the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons should be asked to consider telling its vets to give advice on breeding issues “and be accountable for that advice.”
“Examples of areas which might be included would be a requirement to carry out pre-breeding and puppy health checks, or if involved in a breeding establishment being aware of the DAC’s standard for breeding dogs and able to advise on how the standard can be met,” the DAC said.
Vets should report surgical changes of conformation and Caesarean sections; if carried out on KC-registered dogs, they should be reported to the KC, and others to the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network or Vet Compass.
Other recommendations include that no puppy less than 8 weeks of age should be sold, supplied or gifted, and all dogs and puppies sold should be microchipped. No puppy or dog should be sold or provided unless the breeder’s registration number is lodged with the local council, or if there are plans for it to be sold or given to a third party.
The DAC said this week that current legislation on breeding did not protect adequately the welfare of dogs and is difficult to enforce within reasonable resource cost. It believes the Breeding of Dogs Acts 1973 and 1991, and the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 should be repealed and replaced by regulations made under the Animal Welfare Acts.
The DAC’s proposals for new regulations are based on several principles including that the ready identification of breeding premises and breeders, and accurate traceability of dogs back to their breeder, are key factors without which any proposed system will not be effective.
All dogs and puppies should be microchipped, and all pet shops selling dogs should observe the standards established in a statutory code of practice.
DAC Chairman Prof. Sheila Crispin said: “We believe strongly that all dogs, be they crossbred or pedigree, whether bred by, for example, an individual pet owner or a large scale commercial breeder, are entitled to enjoy the good standards of health and welfare which the Animal Welfare Acts were intended to deliver. The sad fact is that the current legislation does not deliver effective protection from negligent care or shoddy breeding practices.
“Our proposal involves replacing three items of outdated primary legislation with a single set of new secondary regulations designed to be clear in the duties they impose and cost-effective to enforce. These regulations would address not just the problems arising from inbreeding and selection for extremes of conformation, but also the evils of negligent and careless mass breeding on so-called puppy farms.”
The KC responded last week saying it was sympathetic to the DAC’s intentions.
“Many of the suggested measures are disproportionate in regards to the cost implications for good breeders and the expectations on local authorities in respect of time and resources,” said spokesman Caroline Kisko. “The risk with these recommendations is that good breeders will stop producing litters, leaving puppy buyers in the hands of those whose standards may just meet the grade but are far from ideal.
“Unfortunately, local authorities cannot cope with the regulations as they currently stand, it is therefore difficult to foresee how councils will be able to undertake inspections of anyone breeding even one litter, maintain a reliable and robust database, and additionally enforce the standards of and issue local authority breeding licences based on the revised Welsh Government model which would capture more breeders under the revised definition of a ‘commercial breeder.’” And I cannot help but agree. It all seems a bit like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut!
CC Allocation in the U.K.
Writing in his “In the Doghouse” column last week, my colleague Simon Parsons was reflecting on the current debate around CC allocation in the U.K.
Exhibitors appear to want more CCs, going as far as to demand CCs for all eligible breeds at every championship show. The Kennel Club has said no to this idea, and thus far no one seems to have come up with, or suggested publicly, some middle way.
Referring to an item called “Viewpoint” in this month’s Kennel Gazette, the KC’s monthly magazine, Simon says it rehearses all the arguments against the idea of “CCs for all breeds at every show.”
Simon then goes on to say: “Personally I accept that there would be some difficulties with this concept if it were to be implemented outright. But something needs to be tried to get people in show-going mood and even if this suggestion proved impossible in reality, might a watered down version be workable? But there has got to be receptiveness to new ideas, which seems totally lacking at the top.
“My other main point, which I’m getting fed up with repeating but which articles like ‘Viewpoint’ only emphasise, is that it’s all very well to say this won’t work or that won’t work, but unless you come up with some ideas of your own, that’s a pointless exercise.
“‘Viewpoint’ seems to want to foist the KC’s role onto other people, the writer says: ‘The dog-showing community must take ownership of the problem, facilitate the exchange of views and ideas, and formulate a cohesive and achievable strategy to secure a viable future for British dog shows.’
“Well yes, how true that is. But we would like a bit of leadership, please! As it is, it is DOG WORLD which has set things in motion with our recent survey on this very issue. But if all that is going to happen is that ice-cold water is poured on everything that the grass roots suggest, then we might just as well all give up!”
We are just about to start a thorough analysis of the responses received to our survey and will publish the data in due course. We’ve received far more replies than we’d expected, so it will be interesting to see what people are calling for and beyond that it’ll be interesting to see what notice is taken of those views. And anyway, should it not have been the KC itself that launched such a survey to try to better understand what its customers want from it?