The Report highlights the lack of consistency of enforcement of Animal Welfare Law and summarises the key issues. It recommends that local authorities should have access to Dedicated Animal Welfare Officers to enforce Animal Welfare law, including the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) England Regulations 2018. Training would be a requirement for the Animal Welfare Officers. Also the setting up of regional Animal Welfare Forums which include local authority Animal Welfare Officers, the RSPCA and Police. The establishment of a National Animal Welfare Board consisting of representatives from each regional Animal Welfare Forum, RSPCA, Police, DEFRA and relevant NGOs.
The Report looks at the affects of the Covid lockdown on pet purchasing (dogs in particular) and the return to a more normal pattern. Market trends during the pandemic showed that pet ownership increased steeply, and supply struggled to meet demand, pushing prices up dramatically. Post lockdown there is a return to pre-pandemic demand for pets and some decreases in prices. The Golden Retriever was the most sought after breed. The research showed that buyer vigilance needs to improve. The rise in breeding by ‘hobby breeders’ is concerning as these breeders are unregulated.
Animal Welfare Act 2006 and Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs 2010
The United Kingdom”s Animal Welfare Act was passed in 2006 which makes it an offence to mistreat or neglect an animal for which someone is responsible. A person may be prosecuted by the RSPCA, Local Authority or Police for failure to uphold the welfare principles of the Act.
In 2010 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs produced a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs as a guide to dog owners, local authorities and RSPCA of a dog’s needs under the Animal Welfare Act.
A dog’s basic needs must be met:
its need for a suitable environment
its need for a suitable diet
its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour
any need it has to be housed with, or kept apart from, other animals
its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
The Animal Welfare (Scotland) Regulations 2021 – The Scottish Government
The Guidance on Licensed Dog Breeding echoes much of the English Regulations and Guidance and includes the Condition: No dog may be kept for breeding if it can reasonably be expected, on the basis of its genotype, conformation, behaviour or state of health, that breeding from it could have a detrimental effect on its health or welfare or the health and welfare of its offspring. It states that licence holders must be aware of breed specific health risks and that appropriate health screening relevant to the breed should be carried out.
The Guidance specifically recommends caution in regard to the Kennel Club’s category 3 breeds, ie those breeds identified as having extreme physical features which predispose them to health and welfare problems.
The International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) facilitates the collaboration and sharing of resources to enhance the health, well-being and welfare of pedigree dogs and all dogs worldwide. Its goal is to facilitate the sharing of knowledge across all stakeholders worldwide. It has initiated specific actions to improve dog health and well-being, such as supporting globally relevant breed-specific breeding strategies. A major development has been the project, Harmonisation of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD), which is regularly updated and provides a breed relevance rating (BRR). The next International Dog Health Workshop (DHW) will be in 2022.
Responsible Dog Breeding Guidelines 2020 – European Commission – Welfare in Pet Trade
The EU Responsible Dog Breeding Guidelines 2020 reminds us of the close bond, understanding and communication between dogs and humans. The Report reminds us that poor breeding practices have profoundly detrimental effects on dog welfare and on the well-being of owners. Poor breeding may lead to a lifetime of suffering, through poor health and poor suitability as pets, resulting in an untimely death, abandonment or relinquishment. Dogs and puppies have the same need for a good quality of life regardless of breeding context and all breeders are required to act responsibly and with compassion to meet those needs.
The Guidelines are intended to support enforcement of responsible breeding and good animal welfare practices by competent authorities. The criteria for good practice are set out in these guidelines.
This report describes the legislation in place across the EU for the protection of dogs and cats. It confirms the wide variation across countries and highlights substantial gaps in the national legislation in protecting dogs and cats used in breeding and selling. The report recommends compulsory permanent identification on a appropriate database linked to an EU database; compulsory licensing of cat and dog breeders and harmonised EU standards for breeders; a ban on third party sales of dogs and cats; appropriate controls on internet sales; specific requirements for the transport of dogs and cats in the context of economic activity; controls on the internet trade of cats and dogs; a ban on surgical mutilations. Fifteen out of 28 member states have legislation to prevent the selective breeding of dogs and cats with genetic problems such as inherited disease or exaggerated conformations.
Improving the implementation of animal welfare legislation in animal breeding 2020 – Finnish Food Authority
Part 2: Preliminary analysis of problems and means of intervention in the breeding of dogs
The Report focuses on the hereditary characteristics of significant welfare factors that require the urgent implementation of the Animal Welfare Act. It focuses on the health of brachycephalic (short-skulled) dogs and concludes that if the welfare problems caused by exaggerated features are tackled solely by means of health examinations without changing the physical characteristics themselves those welfare problems will persist. It concludes that lasting results can only be achieved by changing those characteristics.