A commitment to improve welfare standards for dogs at breeding premises in Wales has been made by the Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.
A report, produced by the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group, reviewing the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales Regulations 2014) has been published this week.
The recommendations include a need for:
- Greater consistency in the inspection and enforcement of breeding regulations
- A review of the licensing process, including application of a staff to adult dog ratio appropriate to the breeding premises
- The need for better welfare standards for all breeding dogs rather than only those at licensed premises
- To deliver improvements and consistency in the inspection and enforcement of the breeding regulations, which is undertaken by Local Authorities, a scoping project has been set up to determine what additional resource is needed.
Once completed, funding for a three year pilot scheme will be provided. This will enable expertise to be built through specialist training and upskilling of dedicated Local Authority staff.
The review also supports the ban of third party sales of dogs and the Minister has committed to legislating on this issue before the end of this Senedd.
Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “We all want to see the highest welfare standards for animals in Wales. Part of this is to drive up the welfare standards for dogs at breeding premises.
“I would like to thank the Animal Health and Welfare Group for reacting so quickly and producing their comprehensive report. Some of the recommendations can be delivered through existing legislation and I’m keen to see these progress as a matter of urgency before proposing amendments to the current Breeding Regulations.
“The combination of new regulations on pet sales and dedicated funding for enforcement and delivery of the Breeding Regulations, will result in lasting improvements to the welfare standards of puppies bred in Wales.”
Comment on the report, RSPCA Assistant Director for External Relations Claire Lawson said:
“While the introduction of new dog breeding laws in 2014 marked a big step forward for canine welfare, RSPCA Cymru has long highlighted the need for future improvements to protect stud dogs, breeding bitches and puppies across the country – which is why this urgent review was so important.
“RSPCA Cymru was pleased to input into this review, via our role on the Animal Welfare Network for Wales. We’re delighted that a whole host of the AWNW’s views have been taken on board.
“The current staff-to-dog ratio has always been far too high for staff to adequately meet the needs of the number of dogs this regulation allows them to keep. Puppies need so much care, attention and socialisation; so a new ratio which includes puppies would be a big step forward.
“Recommendations around improved training for local authorities are very welcome. We know Councils have so much on their plate already – and need proper resourcing to ensure they can enforce dog breeding laws; particularly in parts of West Wales, which are UK hot spots in terms of the prevalence of dog breeding activity.
“Any enhancement of dog breeding law must be done in conjunction with improvements to, or the introduction of, complementary legislation – including improvements on dog traceability, compulsory microchipping compliance, a ban on third-party sales of puppies, and consideration of a new cat breeding law too. Only then can we have a system that is truly fit for purpose and best protects animals from bad breeding practices.
“The Welsh Government have shown a really strong response to this report – and we look forward to working with them to ensure local authorities are best equipped to tackle illegal and poor dog breeding, that the public understand the consequences on welfare of such practices; and that regulations are enhanced to ensure Wales loses its sad label as a bastion for the murky world of illegal, or damaging, puppy breeding practices.”