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Thursday 2 October 2008

Puppy-trade - epetition response

We received a petition asking:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop the exploitation of commercially bred puppies by introducing legislation that prohibits the sale of puppies from third parties such as agents, dealers and pet shops.”

Details of Petition:

“Puppies bred commercially by licensed and unlicensed breeders to supply the pet trade, known as puppy farming are bred indescriminately from unscreened bitches. Puppies are more prone to disease and suffer from hereditary conditions, due to poor welfare standards at the breeding establishments. The mixing of litters during long transportation in often unsuitable vehicles from the breeding establishment to the pet shop will cause many vulnerable puppies with already weakened immune systems to fall sick prior to or soon after purchase. Unsuspecting purchasers of these puppies, find having bought a puppy from a third party, they are faced with large unexpected veterinary bills as well as a sick puppy or no puppy at all if the vet has advised euthanasia. Animal welfare is seriously compromised by allowing breeding bitches and puppies to be exploited to support the puppy trade which is motivated by monetary gain.”

· Read the petition
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Read the Government’s response

The Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999, which amended and extended the provisions of the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 and the Breeding of Dogs Act 1991, already provides protection for dogs used in breeding establishments.  Under this legislation, any person who keeps a breeding establishment for dogs at any premises and carries on at those premises a business of breeding dogs for sale must obtain a licence from the local authority.  Those people who are not in the business of breeding dogs for sale, so-called “hobby breeders”, and produce less than five litters in any period of 12 months, do not need to obtain a licence.

The local authority has the discretion whether to grant a licence and, before doing so, must satisfy itself that the animals are provided with suitable accommodation, food, water and bedding material; are adequately exercised and visited at suitable intervals; and that all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent and control the spread of diseases amongst dogs.  Local authorities are responsible for enforcing the legislation.  In addition to ensuring that dogs are kept in suitable accommodation, the law also places limits on the frequency and timing of breeding from a bitch.  Bitches cannot be mated before they are one year old, must have no more than six litters in a lifetime and can only have one litter every 12 months.  Breeding records must be kept to ensure that these requirements are adhered to.  Puppies that are produced at licensed breeding establishments can only be sold at those premises or a licensed pet shop.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 provides powers to update existing animal welfare legislation, including the breeding of dogs legislation.  In particular, the Act places on those who own or are responsible for animals a duty to ensure their animals’ welfare.

This duty of care will help those who enforce the law, such as local authorities and the RSPCA, to take action when an animal is being treated contrary to its welfare needs, even though it may not be immediately suffering.  A similar provision in law already exists to protect farmed animals.  The duty means that all domestic or captive animals, including dogs kept at breeding establishments, must be cared for in accordance with good animal management practices.  It enables those responsible for enforcing animal welfare standards to work with the owners and keepers to raise standards and, in cases where the owner or keeper is not prepared to provide the care that the animal requires, to take action through the courts.

We are also considering – under the Act – the need to introduce secondary legislation to replace the current dog-breeding legislation with new regulations. The Kennel Club has recently launched an Accredited Breeders Scheme which seeks to raise the welfare level of breeding bitches and their puppies.  We believe that this scheme – which has been operating for a short period – will provide valuable lessons that are going to be helpful when considering any new laws in this area.  It will take time for learning from the scheme to be evaluated and it would therefore be premature for the Government to speculate on the possible timing for the introduction of any new law on dog breeding.

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Tags: dogs, Pet Shop, Puppies, Puppy

Share this:
Puppy Alert - The Governments response to the epetition only indicates how out touch they are with the reality of the situation regarding traded puppies.
Whilst Puppy Alert agrees that legislation is inplace for Councils to use when considering whether to licence a dog breeding establishment or pet shop, it is totally inadequate to prevent suffering to the breeding bitches and puppies. 
It was for this reason that Puppy Alert felt it important to submit the petition, because until it becomes illegal to sell puppies from third parties such as dealers and pet shops the cruelty and suffering will continue. 
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