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
Congratulations to our patron, Professor Clare Rusbridge, who has collected her RCVS Impact Award.
Many thousands of dogs have benefited from Prof. Clare Rusbridge’s Treatment Algorithm preventing pain and suffering.
There are over 27,000 vets and 17,000 registered veterinary nurses in the UK – and only up to 2 RCVS Impact Awards can be bestowed in any year.
The award is bestowed upon a veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse who has recently, or is currently, undertaking a project, initiative or similar that has a significant impact on the profession at large, animal health or welfare, or public health. Such impact could have been made through any field of veterinary endeavour, including clinical practice, research, education or veterinary politics.
Cavalier Matters supported Clare’s nomination – we felt it was important to acknowledge Clare’s contribution to the understanding and management of Chiari-like malformation and Syringomyelia [CM/SM].
Clare chose to investigate Chiari-like malformation and Syringomyelia [CM/SM] for her PhD. Sadly this painful condition is very prevalent in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (and also affects other breeds). Clare provided the first comprehensive description and her work since has enabled further understanding in addition to greatly improving treatment.
Clare helped establish a health scheme for testing for CM/SM [requested by breeders].
Clare created the treatment algorithm, which is now used worldwide; it revolutionised the prescribing of appropriate medications by veterinarians. Thousands of pet owners are sadly unable to afford to consult with a neurologist, so this prevents unnecessary suffering.
The Cavalier Matters charity has over 42,000 followers on social media; the Companion Cavalier Club has over 220 members. Clare donates her precious free time helping with their websites and in particular, information posters about CM/SM to ensure they are distributing correct information.
Clare also gives presentations at health seminars for Cavalier owners, supplying information on the latest research and answering questions, including how to achieve the best quality of life for their companion and understanding the management of pain relieving medications.
Many owners travel hundreds of miles with their companions to consult with Clare; they truly value her expertise and experience.
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.
We are so very sorry to share the news that Beebee has lost her battle with CM/SM [Syringomyelia] and MVD. Beebee was famous for her petite size and extraordinary appetite, she was also the face of the Cavaliers are Special Campaign.
This was started by a group of pet owners campaigning for a healthier future for their beloved Cavaliers, including the petition for mandatory health testing, as little was being done by the UK Kennel Club to encourage breeders to use the testing schemes available to them.
At its close, the petition held 70,088 signatories.
REST IN PEACE BEAUTIFUL BEEBEE April 2012 – June 2022
Written by owner Charlotte Mackaness
Beebee was born in a Jubilee year and died in one too – a true little Princess.
I can’t believe that my precious little one is gone forever and that I’ll never again see her pootling around the field with me on a “horse poo safari” or catch her opening a cupboard for an illicit snack.
I feel so lucky to have had 10 years with her; more than we could ever have imagined after the devastating diagnosis of severe CM/SM at such a young age and the long list of health problems that followed. I suspect she never knew a normal life but was such a trooper and so good natured considering everything.
People were always drawn to her because she was the cutest little button but what a price she paid for it – a life of constant headaches and pain, although we did our very best to manage her symptoms.
It was most definitely her time and she left in an instant while munching on a chocolate digestive. As I left her for the last time, Beebee didn’t look like a 10 year-old-dog but one far older; her body ravaged by ill health. I truly hope something good came out of Beebee’s life: hopefully a few people became aware of Cavalier health issues and asked more questions about health tests before buying a Cavalier puppy.
I’ve met some amazing people because of Beebee and for that I will be forever grateful. However, I’ve also seen the other side of Cavaliers: I feel deeply depressed that so little has been done to improve the outlook for the breed other than meaningless lip service, and that the foxes are well and truly in charge of the hen house.
To those who bred her, she was Pascavale Nola. To us she was our little Beebee, Libby Libster – totally adored bundle of fluff, galloping gourmet and Queen of the house!
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.
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.
The announcement of the results of the court case in Norway has generated an enormous amount of discussion and outpouring of emotions on all sides. We all adore our Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and do not wish to see a ban on breeding in the future in the UK and internationally.
This decision means because of the severe health problems they may no longer be bred in Norway as ‘pure’ breeds. However they may be crossed with another breed in a scientifically controlled way with the aim of breeding for health.
Part of our role as a charity is to offer support and advice to the many owners whose Cavaliers have serious health issues, (these includes Cavaliers from Puppy Farms and top show kennels) – often at a very young age. In addition we have cared for many Cavaliers ourselves with these devastating conditions and had our hearts broken over and over again.
Cavaliers are such an amazing breed and truly deserve the chance to live long, healthy lives – we need to find a way to make this happen.
Although there are many health focused, responsible breeders doing their best, there are not enough – sadly voluntary schemes have not been well supported over the decades so there has to be stronger laws around breeding and health testing. We need to keep campaigning for that and also encourage everyone to take responsibility to support those breeders fully health testing adults and puppies [at the appropriate ages] by ONLY purchasing puppies from them.
The Companion Spaniel Project is a good example of what can be achieved. Their aim is to produce healthy spaniels with improved head conformation eliminating CM/SM and early onset of MVD. After 5 years of careful selection and health testing the 2nd litter has just celebrated their 2nd birthday, it is still early days but so far the project has proved to be successful and the third generation is being planned.
“This is not an attack on breeders. It simply applies existing law to a group of animals, purebred dogs, that have been flying under the radar of animal welfare legislation. If there were no welfare issues for these two breeds – i.e., that the dogs being produced can be expected to be healthy and not suffer from serious or systematic health issues that could cause pain and suffering – there would have been a different outcome”…
“It is not the beginning of an indiscriminate attack on all breeds. It is, however, a test case based on two breeds that makes it clear that the existing welfare laws in Norway apply to dogs just as they do to other animals. Everybody must abide by these laws because they protect the welfare of animals”.
A Message from Carol Beuchat, Scientific Director of the Institute of Canine Biology
You’ve no doubt heard that breeding of Cavaliers in Norway has been banned because of their serious health issues.
However, the court ruling encourages science-based cross breeding programs to solve the health issues of the breed, and we know from our success with the Lundehund (a Norwegian breed) that this can be done.
The Lundehund Project is proving that a well-planned cross-breeding program can restore health and genetic diversity to a breed while protecting type and the unique features of the breed.
Would you be interested in supporting or participating in a breeding program to restore the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to health?
If so, please contact me via email with a few words describing how you think you could contribute to this program.
Also, if you know somebody that might be interested, please share this message.
I will review the responses and organize a team that can get this project going.
New Research Points to the Importance of Headspace
In recent years, nobody could have failed to have noticed the boom in popularity of dog breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers. These breeds have a skull which is wider than it is long, defined as “brachycephalic”. Many less-obviously “flat faced” dogs are also brachycephalic, including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
While it is generally accepted that such head conformation can be associated with health problems such as breathing and eye issues, a new research paper published by Professor Clare Rusbridge and Dr Penny Knowler points to increasing evidence that brachycephaly can also impair the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid leading to distressing and life-limiting conditions such as hydrocephalus and CM/SM (syringomyelia). https://www.mdpi.com/2075-1729/11/2/139
Many of the brachycephalic breeds more likely to suffer from such conditions, including Cavaliers, Chihuahuas and Pugs, are hugely popular pets. The research paper concludes by questioning whether it is ethical to breed dogs predisposed to these issues and stresses the importance of educating the puppy-buying public about the importance of avoiding extreme conformation. It also calls for wider screening of (at risk?) breeding dogs (rather than stock, some people take offence at the term stock).
There is an official Kennel Club screening scheme for Chiari-like Malformation of the skull and Syringomyelia but it is not compulsory, nor widely used. Furthermore, a recent analysis of Cavalier litters registered by the Kennel Club in 2020 revealed that only four litters (out of 705) show evidence of any kind of screening for these two conditions and only two of the litters would have passed the breeding guidelines.
The cost of a screening MRI in the UK is £200 to £300 plus BVA reading fee £100. Cavalier puppies from fully health tested parents sell for £2,500 to £4,000 plus so cost should not be a deterrent in having the parents scanned.