Notes of Meeting 12 March 2015

Present: Sheila Crispin (SC), Dan O’Neill (DO), David Grimsell (DG), Marisa Heath (MH), Carol Fowler (CF), Neil Parish, MP (NP)

Apologies: Clare Rusbridge, Julia Carr, Geoffrey Clifton Brown, MP, Lesley Field, Fiona Cooke, Chris Laurence, Sean Wensley, Lisa Richards

1. Matters arising:

  • Minutes now being posted on CFSG website. CF will circulate to all members of DBRG
  • Defra’s lack of response to Advisory Council’s ‘Recommendations for regulation and legislation’ will be followed up after the election
  • CF will contact David Sargan regarding the Conformation Group
  • SC (?) will check with Lisa McCaulder on progress/whereabouts of the scoring system for local authority inspections of licensed dog breeding establishments
  • We await the result of negotiations between the RSPCA / BVA AWF and Kennel Club on an agreed Puppy Contract
  • Codes of Practice: we understand that CFSG has been tasked with re-writing the COPs. We also understand they will be subject to consultation. We agreed that in the case of the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act the COPs relating to dog breeding should be statutory.

2. DBRG Objectives

A lengthy discussion took place and then further work done by email. The DBRG (revised) Objectives are available as a separate document and included with these Notes.

3. Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG) update

From the Minutes of the 26 February CFSG meeting it was noted that CFSG membership would consist of a steering group, main members, and advisors.  Engaging with other smaller groups was discussed and when appropriate their input/thoughts would be sought. There was a suggestion of a ‘big tent’ meeting to which those with an interest in dog and cat health and welfare be invited to give their views.

The on-going legacy work of the Dog Advisory Council was discussed.  The Council’s Recommendations for legislation and regulation was presented to CFSG as the area it could take forward. Consideration was also given to the Deregulation Bill and Codes of Practice. This would be put into the CFSG strategy work and CFSG would respond to any consultation on the Deregulation Bill. Information on the Council’s website was also discussed. It was agreed that the ‘How to Buy a Puppy’ section was very useful and that the BVA will be taking this on.

CSFG also discussed micro-chipping and the recent debate in the House of Lords. Key questions were: who registers a dog for the first time; who is the offender if ownership details are not updated; how regulations will affect breeders?  CFSG will monitor the effectiveness of the micro-chipping  guidelines for the five year review.

CFSG is in the process of setting out its priorities.

Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Cats and Dogs are due to be reviewed in 2015. CFSG are tasked to do this by considering how they can be improved and used more effectively. CSFG aims to provide AHWBE with its report by mid-summer 2015.

4. CARIAD Update

Breeding of Dogs (Wales) Regulations
DG reported that the Breeding of Dogs (Wales) Regulations will come into force April 30 2015. The Regulations will require that local authorities ‘have regard to’ guidance issued by the Welsh Ministers. CARIAD has seen a draft of the ‘Guidance’ proposed and is very disappointed, to say the least. CARIAD has issued a paper strongly criticising the draft ‘Guidance’ and has made a series a recommendations to the Welsh Government for improvements. All Welsh Assembly Members have been advised of this and urged to press for improvement.

Paper presented to RCVS on Veterinary Inspections
A discussion paper has been submitted by CARIAD to the RCVS concerning the role and professional responsibility of vets in the licensing of dog breeding establishments. This paper will be discussed at the next RCVS Standards Committee on 29 April.

Deregulation Bill
The draft Deregulation Bill currently includes a clause under Schedule 21 which would repeal the requirement under the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 for the keeping of prescribed records by dog breeders.  This repeal, if it goes through, would be very damaging to dog welfare. The Government has implied it will consult on this but to date there has been no indication when or how such consultation will occur. CARIAD understands that Rob Flello, MP, is submitting a question to the Minister, Lord de Mauley, to seek clarification. DG emphasised that DBRG members should be very alert to this as it will be important to submit responses to a consultation.

How and why the Government chose to introduce this proposed repeal is unclear. To date, DEFRA have refused to provide any background papers. CARIAD is waiting for the decision of the Information Commissioner as to whether this information should be provided. It is thought a decision is likely soon.

5. Dog Health Workshop/DogWellNet/International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD)

Dan O’Neill reported on the second Dog Health Workshop hosted by the German Kennel Club in Dortmund 14/15 February 2015. Presentations and post workshop summaries may be found here:
http://www.vdh.de/dog-health-workshop

Of particular note was the initiative by the Swedish Kennel Club (Goran Bodegard) for Breed Specific Strategies and Breed Specific Instructions (BSI) for show judges regarding morphologic breed type related to exaggerations in pedigree dogs. This programme has now been adopted by all of the Nordic kennel clubs. Judges reports and individual critiques are forwarded to the breed clubs of breeds identified as having the potential for exaggerations which impact on a dog’s quality of life. At present 39 breeds have been selected from 73 breeds deemed at risk of a negative welfare impact due to exaggerated features.

The International Partnership for Dogs (IFPD) seeks to ‘facilitate collaboration and sharing of resources to enhance the health, well-being and welfare of pedigreed dogs and all dogs worldwide.’ Its goals are to: enhance the health, well-being and welfare of dogs and enrich human-dog interactions; to facilitate sharing of knowledge, information, experience and resources across stakeholders; provide structure, evaluation and interpretation of information to support the actions of stakeholders in do health, well-being and welfare; to facilitate specific actions to improve the health and well-being of dogs, including, for example, to support globally relevant breed-specific breeding strategies; to create and run the web platform dogwellnet.com; to bring the dog community closer together through DogWellNet.com

The CEO of IPFD is Dr Brenda Bonnett: (brendabonnett@nullipfdogs.com) CF has made contact with Dr Bonnett but no reply so far. It remains to be seen if such noble objectives will be translated into collaborative actions by the kennel clubs involved. Following the Nordic kennel clubs’ example regarding breed specific strategies/instructions would be a good place to start.

6. Invitation to the Kennel Club

It was agreed that we should invite Bill Lambert, Aimee Llewellyn and Tom Lewis to our next meeting. CF has emailed Bill, Aimee and Tom, who have agreed to speak about the organisation and structure of the KC and answer specific questions we may have, provided these are sent in advance. It would be a good opportunity to discuss our suggestions about measures we would like the KC to implement to improve health and address the problem of inbreeding and closed gene pools.

7. Research papers

There was no time to discuss, however Dan has agreed to pass on any relevant research papers to all who would like to receive them. Please let Dan know if you do not wish to receive research papers

8. Lobbying your MP

Again there was no time to discuss this item but at a previous meeting we did agree that each of us would contact our MP. CF has sent around a draft letter to MPs as an example.  Geoffrey Clifton-Brown commented that it was too long, so please bear in mind.  A copy of DBRG Objectives would be a good place to start because this is what we want. An MP should follow up a surgery meeting with some action (something more than a polite acknowledgement of your concerns)  An MP can: ask oral and written questions of ministers; include an issue in his/her own press publicity; call a debate; write to the relevant minister; request to see a minister; lay down a private members bill.  Immediately after the general election would be a good time to contact an MP and ask for a surgery slot.

9. DBRG Press release

CF has circulated a draft press release. Linda Goodman from CARIAD has offered to help should we decide to go ahead. Discussion postponed until the next meeting.

10. A constitution. Should we have one?

Please give this some thought until such time as we can discuss properly. What are the advantages and disadvantages?

11. Date of next meeting

June 4, Portcullis House, 12.00- 15.00