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Summit to promote and improve responsible dog ownership in Wales

A summit to explore what more can be done in Wales to promote and improve responsible dog ownership has been called by Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths and takes place today (18 October)

The summit focuses on what can be done using the levers available to Wales. It brings together representatives from local government, the police, public health, third sector organisations and those campaigning for both the welfare of dogs and the safety of the general public.

Laws protecting the public from dangerous dogs are not devolved and as such, are a matter for the UK Government, However, issues such as breeding, pet sales and raising awareness of responsible dog ownership can be dealt with in Wales.

The summit will explore what works now, and what additional steps can be taken to promote and improve responsible dog ownership.

For example, over the past three years the Welsh Government has supported a local authority enforcement project in relation to dog breeding.  It provides training and guidance for inspectors, improving our capacity to investigate and stop illegal breeding. This has included additional inspections at dog breeding premises and the gathering of intelligence on unlicensed dog breeders, leading to prosecutions.

Speaking ahead of the summit the Minister said: “We have seen far too many dog attacks over the past few years and, while changes to the law on dangerous dogs is a matter for the UK Government, there are things we can address in Wales, such as improving enforcement of current legislation, education and raising awareness.

“The summit brings together all the key players so we can see what works now, where there are gaps and where we can take more action.

“Any dog, whatever their breed or size, has the potential to cause harm and show aggression, and so responsible dog ownership is vital for all breeds.

“I hope the summit, by bringing everyone together, can explore and assess how we can make progress using the levers at our disposal in Wales.”

Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Richard Irvine said: “Responsible dog ownership is key for animal welfare and public safety.  It was also a focus for me at the Royal Welsh Show, and it will be good to hear what more we can do to promote this.

“Owning a dog can bring huge rewards, but it is also a commitment and a great responsibility.   It is not something to be taken lightly, and the summit will be vital in hearing from all parties on what more we can do, including to ensure those embarking on dog ownership are well-informed.”

Strategic Lead and Trading Standards and Animal Health Manager for Monmouthshire County Council Gareth Walters will be one of the local authority representatives at the summit.  He said: “The Local Authority Enforcement project has overseen the appointment of 9 new Animal Licensing Officers. They offer crucial support required by Local Authority public protection services by providing a shared resource across Wales as a recognised point of expertise. The officers enable existing animal health officers to focus on wider animal health and welfare work.

“I look forward to seeing how we contribute further with all partners on promoting responsible dog ownership.”