Kennel Club comments on new Northern Ireland dog breeding regulations

(KC Release) The Kennel Club has welcomed new regulations to be introduced in Northern Ireland as a positive step towards better standards of welfare for the breeding of dogs.

The Welfare of Animals (Dog Breeding Establishments and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 will introduce specified standards for keepers of three or more breeding bitches who breed three or more litters of puppies in any 12 month period, in order to maintain and improve the welfare of breeding dogs throughout their breeding life.

Amongst the new requirements for those who require a licence, microchipping will now become mandatory for all puppies prior to sale, a measure greatly supported by the Kennel Club to aid in the identification and traceability of dogs post-sale.

The new requirements follow a consultation on the proposals in 2011 and continued correspondence with the Kennel Club to discuss the proposals, share best practice in the form of the principles of the Assured Breeder Scheme, and look at how such principles could complement the aims and objectives of the draft regulations.

The Kennel Club does remain disappointed however with the Northern Ireland Government’s failure to utilise the resources and skills of the Assured Breeder Scheme, or indeed any breeding scheme that is properly accredited by a recognised accreditation body such as the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), which would have freed up limited resources to inspect breeders who fall outside such regimes.

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Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko comments: “Whilst the Kennel Club understands the Department’s intention to make the guidance less prescriptive and easier to follow, it asked during the consultation period that at the very least reference to ‘membership of a UKAS Accredited Breeders Scheme when considering in-year monitoring of establishments’ be maintained in the guidance for enforcement officers, as per the previous draft of the regulations.

“Membership of a UKAS Accredited scheme would have benefit to enforcers with the peace of mind that members have been externally inspected by an independently verified body as a condition of approval to the scheme. We therefore find it counterintuitive that this has been ignored when such a suggestion would have complemented and aided the enforcement of the new regulations.

“As a consequence, the decision by DARD to not take on board our recommendation further highlights the importance of adequate training for enforcement officers so that they are able to differentiate between good and bad practice, as too arbitrary an application of these regulations could unnecessarily penalise perfectly good breeders.

“The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme, which is currently working towards UKAS accreditation, undertakes regular inspections of members of the scheme and had offered inspection training to local authority enforcers. Whilst we are disappointed with their decision, this offer still stands.”

The regulations were approved on 18 February and will come into force on the 1 April 2013.

For more information on the Kennel Club’s campaigns in respect of dog breeding legislation, click here.

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