Better regulation of dog breeding needed in England, vets tell Committee

Veterinary associations have told an influential committee of MPs that the Dog Advisory Council should be made into a regulatory body and that legislation on dog breeding must be updated to ensure the future health and welfare of dogs and puppies.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) appeared before the House of Commons select committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EfraCom) as part of the Committee’s Inquiry on Dog Control and Dog Welfare.

Above: Horrific puppy farming conditions (pic: Oscar’s Law)

The session also covered: the veterinary profession’s role in improving dog welfare; the registration of puppies with the Kennel Club; line breeding, out breeding and the coefficient of inbreeding; veterinary checks at dog championship shows; breed standards; availability of research and data; the extent of puppy farming; and the sale of puppies on the internet.

Commenting after the session, BVA President Peter Jones said:

“The Dog Advisory Council, chaired by veterinary surgeon Professor Sheila Crispin, is doing a huge amount of good work already but at the moment it can only give advice and we believe it should be made into a regulatory body for dog welfare.

“While we recognise the good work that the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme is doing, this only affects a very small percentage of the puppies born every year in England. We need to look beyond the KC Scheme and ensure there is a robust registration scheme for all breeders that insists on minimum requirements in order to stamp out unscrupulous breeding practices.

“We know that in Wales and Northern Ireland a lot of work has already been carried out to review and update dog breeding legislation and we now want to see this happening in England.“

BSAVA President Mark Johnston said:

“The veterinary profession is doing a lot to highlight dog welfare issues but our frustration is that by the time someone comes in to the veterinary surgery with a new puppy it’s too late to tell the client that they may not have made the best choice.

“Education has an important role to play but this must also be backed up with strong legislation and a Dog Advisory Council that has teeth and resources.

“Many dog owners are working under the impression that Kennel Club registration is a mark of quality but this isn’t the case. KC registration doesn’t necessarily mean that health tests and socialisation have taken place and we believe that the KC should not be registering unhealthy puppies.

“The puppy buying public needs more help to understand how to select a happy, healthy puppy from a good breeder.”

BVA and BSAVA cited the AWF/RSPCA Puppy Contract as a positive measure to improve the level of understanding amongst both dog breeders and potential puppy buyers and handed out copies of the Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack to members of the Committee.

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