Dog Breeding Report Sees Key Role for Vets

(BVA Release) Vets have welcomed Professor Bateson’s report on dog breeding as an important step on a long journey to improving the health and welfare of all dogs.

The report, which follows a 10-month inquiry into breeding practices, dog showing, and scientific evidence, concludes that measures such as the establishment of a non-statutory advisory council on dog breeding, an up-graded accredited breeder scheme, legislative changes, and a public education campaign are required.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) gave evidence to Professor Bateson’s inquiry and stressed the need for changes that would improve the lot for all dogs (not just pedigrees), as well as the key role that vets have to play in educating the public.

Many of the specific recommendations have already been called for by the veterinary profession, such as a Code of Practice on breeding, compulsory microchipping of all dogs, and improved breed standards to promote health and welfare over extreme conformation.

Through the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) work has already started to investigate setting up an independent body of experts, and a campaign to improve the public’s understanding of the issues is being led by the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation’s guidance on buying a puppy.

Other specific recommendations supported by the veterinary profession include:

* the creation of a non-statutory advisory council to include veterinary input;
* robust accredited breeder schemes recognising the vital importance of pre-mating health screening and other good breeding practice;
* the centralised collection of data on health problems associated with different breeds; and
* better enforcement of good welfare on licensed dog breeding premises, which must come with resources to ensure inspection and enforcement can be carried out.

Commenting, Nicky Paull, Past President of the BVA (who gave evidence to the Bateson Inquiry), said:

“Professor Bateson clearly understands that practical solutions are the way forward and that it will require a concerted effort by all those involved in the health and welfare of dogs to make the necessary changes. We support Professor Bateson’s recommendations and see a key role for vets in bringing the breeding community and the public forward together.

“The majority of breeders care deeply about the animals they work with, but the rules must be tightened for those who have sacrificed the welfare of dogs for their own gain.

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed and the two reports that have followed by APGAW and Prof Bateson are the catalyst we needed to shake up the dog breeding world and start educating the public. A lot of work to improve the situation has already begun and this is just one step in the long journey to improving the health and welfare of all dogs.”

Richard Dixon, President of the BSAVA, added:

“Vets are at the forefront of advising potential dog owners and breeders about the health and welfare issues involved with breeding. We hope that the public attention given to Professor Bateson’s report will remind people to always seek advice from their vet before buying a puppy and never buy on impulse.

“If the dog-buying public is properly educated to make the right welfare choices they will turn their backs on puppy farms and bad breeders. In this way the market can have a very positive effect on welfare alongside legislation and enforcement.

“Professor Bateson’s recommendations are welcomed by BSAVA, especially the requirement for breed standards to ensure dogs are fit for life, not extreme conformation, and the call for a robust accreditation scheme to help people choose a reputable breeder.

“These changes will take time and money and the veterinary profession, welfare charities and dog breeders must work together to achieve them.”

Professor Bateson’s report (funded by the Kennel Club and the Dog’s Trust)

BVA’s Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF)‘Guidance on choosing a new dog’

BVA and Kennel Club’s Canine Health Schemes

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