Aims and Objectives
(March 2015)

Dog Breeding Reform Group

Aims

To promote and support initiatives and reforms that will effectively improve dog welfare related to a) genetic and breed health; b) breeding, rearing and selling practices.

(Whilst acknowledging the numerous dog welfare issues in the UK, this group will retain a focus on breed and breeding issues (from which many other welfare issues ensue).

Objectives

  1. A single accepted Puppy Contract 1
  2. A single accepted Standard for Breeding 2
  3. A requirement for registration of all dog breeders with their local authorities
  4. Reduction of the perceived default local authority licensing requirement for dog breeders to three litters or more in any 12 month period
  5. Repeal of the Breeding of Dogs Acts 1973, 1991, 1999 and replacement with new regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, that ensure high standards of welfare for dogs; that protect the genetic health of offspring; and that effectively regulate the sale of puppies 3
  6. Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act as a statutory duty
  7. All advertisements for the sale of dogs/puppies to include a breeder’s registration number provided by the relevant local authority
  8. A ban on the sale of puppies by anyone other than the breeder 4
  9. Measures by the Kennel Club to improve dog health 5
  10. Inclusion of animal welfare as a core part of the national curriculum, in particular with regard to the purchase, lifelong care and welfare of dogs.
  11. Establishment of a Government-funded body to provide independent advice on companion animal welfare 6

 

Footnotes:

  1. Widely accepted by organisations that also include the Kennel Club, British Veterinary Association – Animal Welfare Foundation, RSPCA, Dogs Trust, PDSA
  2. Currently there are three ‘Standards’: Dog Advisory Council Standard for Breeding Dogs; Kennel Club Assured Breeders’ Scheme Standard and Guidance; CIEH Model Licence Conditions for Dog Breeding Establishments
  3. As proposed in the Dog Advisory Council’s Advice to Governments ‘Recommendations on regulations and legislation’
  4. Or by re-homing organisations affiliated to the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes
  5. Measures would  include: banning the mating of second-degree relatives (ie, grandson to granddaughter); maintenance of effective population sizes (EPS)to above 100; outcrossing breeding strategies where the burden of genetic diseases cannot easily be remedied within the existing gene pool; limiting the number of times a ‘popular sire’ is used; requiring genetic/clinical health testing/screening/use of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs); eliminating exaggerated physical traits which impede a dog’s ability to enjoy a normal active life
  6. For example, by setting up a Companion Animal Welfare Committee, comprising  independent experts selected according to Nolan principles

Members

Julia Carr (Canine Action UK)
Stephen and Julia Charlton (Cockapoo Club of GB)
Dr Fiona Cooke (Animal Law Expert, Aberdeen University)
Professor Sheila Crispin (Dog Advisory Council) (DAC)
Mrs Lesley Field (DAC)
Carol Fowler (Cavalier Campaign)
David Grimsell
Marisa Heath (Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare) (APGAW)
Chris Laurence, MBE (DAC)
Dr Dan O’Neill (Royal Veterinary College, VetCompass)
Dr Clare Rusbridge (DAC) (Veterinary Neurologist)
Sean Wensley (Junior Vice President, British Veterinary Association) (JVP, BVA)
Tania Ledger (Cavalier Matters)
Charlotte Mackaness
Margaret Carter (Companion Cavalier Club)

Notes of Meeting 24 June 2014

Present: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP, Dan O’Neill, Sheila Crispin, Carol Fowler
Guests: Dr Rowena Packer (RVC), Chris Laurence (Dog Advisory Council)
Apologies: Lisa Richards, James Yeates, Clare Rusbridge, Harvey Locke, Marisa Heath

1. Matters arising from previous meeting

Item 8: Peter Jinman offered to help to find solutions for companion animal welfare. In an email from Peter, he said he was trying to see if CAWC in some form can be reformed and has made a presentation to AHWBE. People he has consulted agreed that there should be ‘an independent body to advise on best scientific evidence and practical application as to matters that relate to the welfare of companion animals and their position and role in society.’

Key Question: Is there a need for independent advice? If there is, how can we best fulfil that need?

Item 10: Defra Code of Practice. A letter has been received from Defra which states that our suggestion for an addition to the COP for the Welfare of Dogs will be considered when the Code is reviewed. Geoffrey has offered to help with this and the Government’s delay in responding to the DAC’s Recommendations for Regulation and Legislation. He will decide the best way to do this.

Item 13: Mars/Petcare funding for DAC. Regrettably Christopher Dugmore of Mars/Petcare has, after a long delay,responded negatively to the request for funding.

2. Canine and Feline Sector Group Minutes of 8 March Meeting

We were pleased to see that this Group is now up and running and look forward to seeing some action regarding the general welfare of dogs. We noted that the composition of the Group was weighted in favour of rescue organisations and that the Chairmanship and secretariat currently reside with the Kennel Club. We hope that the future programme of the CFSG will include efforts to address the welfare issues associated with breeding, including husbandry, genetic welfare issues, conformation welfare issues and puppy socialisation. We would expect CFSG to support and promote the use of an agreed Puppy Contract and Breeding Standard.

3. APGAW Dog Welfare Sub-Group

Rob Flello, MP, has taken over from Angela Smith, MP as Chairman of the group. There is good cross party representation on the group and shared concerns about irresponsible dog ownership and ‘dangerous dogs’. Breeding issues, puppy socialisation and owner identification will also be addressed. The latter are the areas the DBRG very much hope the new group will tackle and prioritise. Four key areas have been worked out: legislation/policy; education; enforcement; resources. The plan is to devise a short term and long term strategy which will need to be agreed between the political members and core stakeholders. The strategy will then be sent to wider stakeholders for their comment and input. Those views will be taken into account in a Report which sets out the strategy in full in time for the next election and beyond.

DBRG recommends that Professor Sheila Crispin, Chairman of the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding (DAC) be invited to become a member of the APGAW Dog Sub-Group. Her independent status and expertise in the area of dog breeding , health and welfare we feel would be of enormous value to this group.

4. Dog Show Vet Checks (CL)

Best of Breed Winners of Category Three Breeds at General and Group Championship Shows must pass a Veterinary Health Check with the Show Society Vet before they can enter the group competition (Basset Hound, Dogue de Bordeaux, German Shepherd, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Pekingese, Pug, Shar-Pei, St Bernard, Clumber Spaniel, Bloodhound, Bulldog, Chow Chow). Category 3 breeds must undergo a Vet check before their Champion title is confirmed. Vet checks were introduced by the KC in 2011 to ensure that dogs are free from signs of discomfort or suffering associated with exaggerated conformation. There is a recent example of a dog (St Bernard) which failed a vet check and then passed a check two weeks later under a different vet. That this can happen illustrates the ineffectiveness of the scheme. KC rules stipulate that no diagnostic aids may be used. The examination is a visual one to determine if on the day the dog’s health and welfare is compromised. It is not for the vet to judge the conformation and breed specific characteristics. For example, a dog may be heavily wrinkled but if there is no sign of inflammation on the day, the degree of wrinkling and susceptibility to inflammation and infection is irrelevant. For this reason we feel that the vet checks amount to no more than window dressing in an attempt to convince welfare organisations that the KC is addressing the problem of exaggerated conformation. What judges see as ‘normal’ for a breed is not necessarily normal for a dog.

5. Local Authorities and Dog Welfare

This item was postponed as Fiona Cooke was required to be elsewhere at the last minute. Fiona hopes to be available for our next meeting on 2 October. Some of us were able to read the Dog Rescue Federation’s(DRF) ‘National Survey of Local Authority Dog Wardens’ in advance of the meeting. We acknowledged it as an excellent document giving an overview of local authority provision for dog welfare. It is indeed a very patchy picture as we thought. The Survey makes some excellent recommendations, including a review of existing dog breeding legislation throughout the UK.

6. Brachycephalic Conference follow-up. What needs to happen now? (RP)

A large study on the Welfare Effects of Brachycephaly (short nose, short head) has been carried out by Dr Rowena Packer and colleagues at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). The study was followed up by a one day conference on 11 November 2013, ‘Building Better Brachycephalics’ to disseminate the research findings. In addition, the researchers sought the opinion of key stakeholders on the impact of breeding on the health and welfare of short-muzzled dogs.

In spite of the findings of the research and efforts by scientists as the RVC to work in collaboration with the Kennel Club and relevant breed clubs, the Kennel Club has so far not responded to correspondence

We urge the breed clubs and Kennel Club to respond positively to this valuable research and make the necessary changes to the breed standards, as well as actively encouraging breeders not to breed for an extreme brachycephalic type. This could be facilitated initially by a Kennel Club conference for the breed clubs involved.

7. VetCompass study, Purebred dog health results (DON)

The RVC VetCompass project continues to carry out a program of research using data from primary-care vet practices to examine the health of dogs in the UK. On the issue of comparative health between purebred and crossbred dogs, VetCompass has identified a significant longevity advantage of 1.2 years for crossbreds compared with purebreds (O’Neill and others 2013). However, evidence from a recently published VetCompass paper on disorder prevalence suggests a more limited health advantage for crossbreds in relation to the most common disorders of dogs (O’Neill and others 2014). The article reported that the most prevalent disorders reported in dogs attending primary-care veterinary practices in England were otitis externa, periodontal disease and anal sac impaction. Purebred dogs had a higher prevalence compared with crossbreds for only three of the twenty most prevalent disorders.

VetCompass studies are increasingly identifying breed status as more strongly associated with health than crossbred status. From a longevity perspective, breeds varied from 5.5 years in the Dogue de Bordeaux to 14.2 years in the Miniature Poodle (O’Neill and others 2013). And despite the relatively small numbers of individuals dogs analysed, breed variation was identified for five of the top 20 disorders reported in dogs (O’Neill and others 2014).

These studies emphasise that inheritance patterns of common disorders in dogs are more heavily influenced by polygenic complex traits than by monogenic simple traits and that reform should focus on improving breed health for such polygenic disorders for maximal impact.

Current VetCompass work aims to explore duration and severity of disorders as additional metrics to prevalence in order to prioritise disorders on welfare impact.

8. Dog-Ed Paper, ‘Dog health and welfare in the UK, 2014: three compelling reasons to review and regroup now.’ Philippa Robinson

Time restrictions did not allow for a proper discussion of this paper, although we agreed with its findings that the ‘demand’ part of dog health and welfare were as important as the ‘supply’ part. Somehow the message has to be communicated to prospective dog owners of the importance of choosing a dog which is healthy, of good temperament, and suitable for the owner’s lifestyle. A nationwide TV campaign and introducing such awareness into the school curriculum has been suggested. However, cost and practicalities always seem to be the stumbling blocks. This is an area in which the Government should become more actively involved. Currently, provision from dog welfare organisations such as RSPCA and Dogs Trust and local authority dog wardens, is insufficient and patchy.

Regarding reviewing and regrouping using a ‘systems thinking’ approach, we would welcome some more practical suggestions as to how this is to be achieved.

9. Effective Population Sizes (EPS) (Ref Jemima Harrison’s blog, ‘Breeds in danger of extinction.’

Concern was expressed that many of our dog breeds have effective population sizes below 50. EPS is the measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to the population and is a measure of the size of the gene pool in any UK breed. Work being carried out at the Kennel Club’s Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust have found that 40% of the breeds analysed so far have effective population sizes below 50, which is the minimum size recommended in order to manage the effects of inbreeding and maintain a viable population.

The figures for individual breeds have yet to be released by the Kennel Club in spite of (or perhaps because of) the alarming nature of the Genetics Centre scientists’ findings. For the breeds concerned, we feel that measures should be taken immediately to raise the EPS. Measures such as, reducing the relatedness of individual dams and sires, limiting the number of offspring contributed by individual sires, making use of overseas bloodlines, outcrossing to a related breed.

10. Institute of Canine Biology (ICB) online group

The ICB exists to promote the importance of genetic diversity within dog breeds. It has recently set up an online group, run by Dr Carol Beuchat, to teach breeders, breed clubs and others, the basics of population genetics and breeding dogs for health.

We felt that the ICB was making a valuable contribution to the ethical breeding debate. We welcomed the application of 21st century population genetics to breeding practices and see it as a way forward for kennel clubs and breed clubs worldwide.

11. Press release / Publication of DBR Notes on Cavalier Campaign website

The Press Release will be sent out after the APGAW meeting on AHWBE and CFSG unless anyone objects.

12. Updates

Breeding Standard: Much of the principle has been agreed between the Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and the DAC Breeding Standard. A key meeting is being scheduled for the working group to finalise matters. However, finding a single set of words will be challenging.

Puppy Contract: Florence Bowman, BVA AWF (British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation) and Lisa Richards, RSPCA are meeting with Bill Lambert, KC, and legal teams in early July, to discuss the KC’s comments. BL requested the meeting. LR will have more to update following this meeting.

BVA /KC Heart Scheme: the Cardiovascular Society met at the BSAVA Congress to review the research document and have come up with a number of recommendations. These remain confidential at the moment. The ball is now in the court of the KC. CF will write to the KC asking them what their plans are for progressing the scheme with the BVA.

BVA/KC CMSM Scheme: In the Cavalier Club’s recent Health Report, it states, ‘The Club has raised its concerns with the KC regarding the KC/BVA CMSM Scheme in its present format and are awaiting an update. CF will write to the KC for their comments on this.

Welsh Assembly Regulations on Dog Breeding: were laid before the Assembly on June 24 2014

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel DNA Study: Dogs Trust has awarded a grant of £138,500 to Dr Clare Rusbridge and Penny Knowler for the study, ‘Identification of gene(s) predisposing to SM associated withCM-like malformation in CKCS.’

Puppy Farm Debate: date still not set for the parliamentary debate on puppy farming

13. APGAW Meeting 1 July: Animal Health and Welfare Board (AHWBE) and Canine and Feline Sector Group

We will prepare some questions for this meeting.

14. Future dates

Tuesday I July APGAW meeting : Animal health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE): How can APGAW and other welfare organisation work with AHWBE? The role of the Canine and Feline Sector Group

Tuesday 2 December 2014 APGAW meeting Dog Update

February 2015 (no firm date set) Second EU Conference on Dog and Cat Welfare, Rome.

February 14-15 Second Dog Health Workshop, Dortmund, organised by the German Kennel Club

15. AOB

A Health Strategy for the Kennel Club. This is currently an internal Kennel Club document prepared by Nick Blayney and Aimee Llewellyn. We look forward to its publication.

16. Date of next meeting

Thursday 2 October 2014, Portcullis House, 12.00 – 14.00

Notes written by Carol Fowler

References

O’Neill, D. G., Church, D. B., McGreevy, P. D., Thomson, P. C. & Brodbelt, D. C. (2013) Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England. The Veterinary Journal 198, 638-643

O’Neill, D. G., Church, D. B., McGreevy, P. D., Thomson, P. C. & Brodbelt, D. C. (2014) Prevalence of disorders recorded in dogs attending primary-care veterinary practices in England. PLoS One 9, 1-16

Notes of Meeting 27 March 2014

Present: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP(G CB), Lisa Richards (LR), Harvey Locke (HL), Paula Boyden (PB), Carol Fowler (CF)
Guests:  Jackie Aldridge, Peter Jinman (item 8 only)
Apologies:  Dan O’Neill, Clare Rusbridge, Marisa Health

1. Report back from CF and GC-B’s meeting with Steve Dean at the Kennel Club 30 January.

Some points were agreed verbally but written confirmation not yet received from SD.  It was decided that a reminder should be sent.  Points agreed were:  an agreed Breeding Standard and Puppy Contract were nearing completion;  effective population sizes (EPS) breeds will be displayed on the KC website; action indicated for those breeds whose EPS is below 50 – breed clubs to be informed; the DAC’s recommendations for changes to legislation and regulation of dog breeding will be supported by the CFSG; the BVA/KC MRI scheme is the best way forward for Cavaliers – the KC to fund the resubmission of MRIs from breeders who had scanned before the scheme came into place; CKCS breeders encouraged by the KC to use the scheme – CF’s view to make the scheme a ‘requirement’ of the ABS; KC funding provided to enable Cavaliers owned by pet owners to be scanned to provide more data; EBVs for Cavaliers is continuing (has not been abandoned);  meet with Ray Woolmer to discuss  a Cavalier outcross;  KC has a crucial role in protecting the health and welfare of dogs and that reform should start at the top.

2. KC Dog Health Group Report 2013 / Changes to KC Breed Watch

Good to see the additional DNA tests, estimated breeding values for hip dysplasia for 15 breeds (5 of which also have EBVs for elbow dysplasia), and excellent genetic research being done at the Animal Health Trust.  However, our group is aware that more and more DNA tests and other health tests do not address the cause of the problems, ie inbreeding and closed gene pools. Breeds with low EPS, and perhaps all breeds, should be encouraged to outcross in order to introduce new genetic material. This still seems to be the most difficult message to get across to the KC and breed clubs.

The changes to Breed Watch are also welcome. Category 3 replaces the former ‘high profile’ group with a category 2 added as breeds with ‘points of concern’. For category 3 breeds judges must now complete a form indicating the prevalence of the points of concern by means of a 7 point scale.

It is noted that the French Bulldog has been removed from category 3 as a result of health initiatives by the French Bulldog Club.  However we note that selection for a longer nose/head to eliminate BOAS is not specifically included. This is a cause for concern when KC registrations for Frenchies are increasing annually.

3. Crufts

Photos of some Best of Breeds were looked at and we noted that in several cases: Clumber Spaniel, Dachshund (all types), GSD, Basset, Pekingese, Pug, Bulldog, French Bulldog, exaggerated conformations had not been improved. Concern was also expressed at the tendency to favour longer necks in some breeds, eg, Dalmatian, Great Dane, Doberman, Airedale and others. This can give rise to neck problems and ‘wobblers syndrome.’  Concern was expressed also at the winning Corgi whose legs have got shorter and back longer. Could this breed go the way of the Dachshund?  The KC often argue that the problems lie with dogs which are not KC registered.  Hard evidence is needed. Certainly photographic evidence from Crufts would suggest that this is not the case.

4.  Assured Breeders Scheme (Jackie Aldridge)

Jackie has begun a study to look at the details of the ABS (such as how many and how often members are assessed, how many assessors, whether full time or part time, what criteria is used when inspections are carried out, etc)  See attached summary of aims and parameters.  Jackie would welcome from members any other suggestions for inclusion in her report.  It was noted that Guidance for Assessors and Standard for Breeders are available on the KC website but difficult to find for puppy buyers.

5. Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) Instructions to Judges

This document was sent out in advance of the meeting (and has been brought to the attention of Aimee Llewellyn at the KC). We agreed that it was a simple and straightforward document, which applies to all breeds, instructing show judges to award prizes to dogs which are sound and healthy. We think it would be beneficial if all UK judges were issued with similar instructions. We also believe it would be advantageous to all dogs if the UK KC were to become a member of the FCI.

6. BVA/KC CMSM Scheme

The total number of MRI scans submitted to the scheme by mid February 2014 was 282 of which 175    were Cavaliers.  It was felt that the KC needed to be more supportive of the scheme for the benefit of all breeds with CMSM, particularly the CKCS breed which faces extinction because of it.  Registration figures for CKCS have fallen dramatically to 5,145 in 2013. There is an urgent need to break the deadlock which is hampering the success of the scheme.  The KC could offer funding for breeders who wish to resubmit their scans which were done prior to the official scheme implementation.  The KC could make the scheme a condition for the registration of Cavalier puppies or at the very least a ‘required’ test of the ABS.

7. BVA/KC Heart Scheme (HL)

A report by Eva Pavelkova has gathered information about heart testing schemes around the world.  There is much disparity amongst the various schemes although the German scheme is well established.  There will be a meeting of cardiologists to discuss the report’s findings and next steps toward having an official UK heart testing scheme. It is hoped that their report will be available shortly after the BSAVA Congress in April.  To date, discussions about this scheme have taken six years.

8. Defra and Companion Animal Welfare (Peter Jinman)

Peter gave a comprehensive history of the provision for Companion Animal Welfare within Defra and its associated bodies in the last decade or so. Whilst the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) is funded by Defra and well established, the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) is not similarly funded.  CAWC faces an uncertain future with no real political will or resources to get it going again.  We noted as before that companion animals are not well served in this country. They are regarded as luxuries which owners must pay for, not government. How can this mind set be changed?  How can the more enlightened attitudes in some other European countries be adopted here?  The governments of Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, for example, are far ahead of the UK. There does need to be an independent national committee for companion animals, properly recruited, which has an advisory role to Governments.  The case for reviving CAWC is strong. The governance of such a group needs to be right, as is its independence and its right to be critical. It needs to achieve legitimacy. Funding should not come from interested parties to ensure that outcomes are not compromised. What is the Dog Advisory Council’s role? Could it be part of a reinvigorated CAWC?

The Companion Animal Sector Council CASC (Peter Scott) still exists. What is its role now? In view of the sector groups and AHWBE will it be phased out?

It would be true to say that hopes are not high that provision for companion animal welfare in the UK will be improved in the near future. Peter very kindly offered to help to find solutions if at all possible bearing in mind the lack of political will which exists at present.

Reference ‘Prioritisation of companion dog issues using expert consensus’ Buckland, et al. ‘Issues that scored highly for both Welfare Problem and Strategic Priority were: inappropriate husbandry; lack of owner knowledge; undesirable behaviours; inherited disease; inappropriate socialisation and habituation; conformation related disorders.’

9. Canine and Feline Sector Group update (CFSG)

Minutes of the meeting held on 21 January have been distributed to members of DBR. It was noted how large the membership of this new group is and that the area represented most is that of rescue and welfare.  CF commented  that genetic welfare was under represented on the CFSG, however, PB pointed out that Dogs Trust does fund genetic welfare research as does RSPCA.  DBR felt strongly that the DAC should be represented on CFSG.  Paula Boyden thought that the DAC was welcome to join CFSG.

CFSG feeds into the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) which is represented in CFSG by Tim Morris.

So far a Boarding Establishment Working Group has been set up.  Items discussed were: CFSG terms of reference; feedback from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate regarding antimicrobial resistance; feedback from the review of England Exotic Diseases Contingency Plan; 2014 strategy document; anti-social behaviour; creation of a CFSG website; need for a specialist working group on training and behaviour; development of the APGAW Dog Subgroup.

10. Defra Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs

The lack of any reference to the protection of the offspring of dogs from genetic diseases is an on going concern of this group.  It was agreed that the following wording from the CAWC Report on Breeding and Welfare 2006 should be included as an addition to Section 5 of the Code, ‘The need to be protected from pain, suffering injury and disease’

‘The selection and breeding of dogs (companion animals) can result in or perpetuate characteristics or inherited conditions that seriously affect the quality of animals’ lives. No-one should breed dogs (companion animals) without careful regard to characteristics (anatomical, physiological and behavioural) that may put at risk the health and welfare of the offspring or female parent.’

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown offered to put this as a parliamentary question.  CF to help with wording.  A letter to Lord de Mauley should also be considered.

11. Government response to DAC Recommendations for Regulation and Legislation

As yet no response has been received from Defra to these recommendations.  GCB has written recently to Lord de Mauley and is waiting for the Minister’s reply.

12. RSPCA Plans on Dog Breeding and Welfare Campaign 2014 (Lisa Richards)

No specific plans have been made for a campaign in 2014.

13. Response from Mars/Pedigree regarding funding for DAC

Sheila Crispin has supplied Mars/Pedigree with additional information as requested but so far no response has been received. This is disappointing,

14. Update on working groups

Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (CIEH) has now produced the updated ‘CIEH Model Licence Conditions and Guidance for Dog Breeding Establishments.’  This development is very much welcomed.

An agreed Breeding Standard has not yet been achieved. There are still some outstanding differences between the DAC’s Standard and what the Kennel club will accept.

An agreed Puppy Contract has not yet been achieved for reasons similar to the above. The KC want substantial changes to the BVA AWF/RSPCA Puppy Contract.  Further attempts will be made to reach a compromise but this is unlikely to be resolved before the end of 2014. LR reported that the existing Puppy Contract had more than 30,000 visits and 10,000 down loads.

Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG):  there are at least 26 sites advertising puppies and dogs for sale. So far Gumtree, Preloved, Vivastreet, Friday-Ad, Pets4Homes, Epupz and Loot have agreed to comply with PAAG standards.  For six months a team of volunteers will monitor the above sites for compliance. However, there is nothing on the sites themselves to indicate that they are PAAG compliant.  This makes it difficult for puppy buyers to make good choices unless they had visited the PAAG website first which has some generic advice about how to go about buying a puppy.

15. European Commission

Claire Calder (Eurogroup for Animals) informed us that the EU has funded a study on the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices which will report in February 2015. Initial results will be presented at the second EU conference on cats and dogs in December 2014 in Rome.

Eurogroup for Animals has started research on national legislation on breeding/trade of dogs and cats in each of the 28 EU member states.

16. Dog Health Workshop 2015

The second International Dog Health Workshop on the enhancement of genetic health in pedigree dogs will be organised by the German Kennel Club to take place in Dortmund February 2015.

17. Brachycephalic syndrome RVC conference update

The RVC team have contacted the KC after the conference last autumn offering to assist or meet again to discuss any initiatives they may wish to implement as a result of the report and conference findings.  So far the KC has declined to comment.

18. APGAW Dog subgroup update

Good progress has been made in the setting up of this new group of MPs. Key stakeholders have been invited to join. More details will be released by APGAW later. Members of DBR feel strongly that the DAC should be represented on this new group. CF has written to Marisa Heath to express this, who will put it to the Chairman of the new group.  DBR is delighted that there will now be a politically focussed group solely responsible for dog welfare.

19. DBR Objectives

No change

20. CARIAD report on Willow Farm Kennels

A very detailed and disturbing report has been produced by CARIAD on the above kennels. LR agreed to check to see if the RSPCA have or will be taking any action to attempt to shut down this breeding establishment.

21. House of Commons debate on Puppy Farms

The date for this debate is still to be decided.  G C-B has agreed to speak in this debate. He will inform us when it will take place and ensure that tickets are provided for us to attend.

22. Publicity for DBR

There was no time to discuss this with all members but CF wondered if we should invite Chrissie Smith, news editor from Dog World to our meeting in June. CF felt it would be good to let the dog breeding world know of our existence and what our Objectives are.

23. AOB Illegal Importation of Dogs (Fixed Penalty)

G C-B informed us of the Motion by Jim Fitzpatrick (Lab) to bring in a Bill to provide a fixed penalty charge for those caught smuggling dogs into the UK, and for connected purposes. It is very much hoped that this Bill will become Labour Party policy and that it will be passed.  CF will write to Jim Fitzpatrick to thank him.

Date of next meeting

Tuesday 24 June 2014, 12.00 – 14.00, Portcullis House

Notes written by Carol Fowler

New Research on Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease

New Research on Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease is being carried out at the Royal Veterinary College in conjunction with VetCOMPASS by Ms M Mattin, Prof A Boswood, Prof D Church and Dr D Brodbelt.

VetCompassThis study needs the help of Cavalier owners and their dogs and primary vet practices. It aims to document the prevalence of DMVD in UK dogs, evaluate survival characteristics of dogs at various stages of the disease and to determine the prognostic value of clinical measurements and cardiac biomarkers.

If you are willing to take part in this study, you will receive valuable information about your own dog’s heart condition. This will enable your vet to optimise the care of your dog at different stages in the disease. You will also be contributing to research on a disease that frequently compromises the health of the Cavalier breed.

A blood test can provide vets with useful information about the severity of MVD through ‘cardiac biomarkers.’ The study will evaluate whether these tests can also help vets estimate the outlook over time for dogs with MVD and manage the disease more effectively.

Participation involves a health check and a one-off blood test as part of your dog’s regular check-up. The results of the cardiac biomarker blood test will be returned to your vet for your dog’s benefit.

If your dog has MVD and you are interested in participating in the study, please ask your usual vet if they are part of the VetCOMPASS MVD study. If not, please direct them to the VetCOMPASS website for further information:

VetCompass Website

Alternatively ask them to contact Maddy Mattin at the RVC:

Email: mmattin@nullrvc.ac.uk
Tel: 01707 667168
Mob: 07757 750492

A lot is being asked of Cavalier owners at the present time but together we can help to ensure the future health of the breed that we love.

Notes of Meeting 12 December 2013

Members present: Dan O’Neill (RVC), Lisa Richards (RSPCA), Harvey Locke, Marisa Heath (APGAW),  Clare Rusbridge (DAC), Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP, Carol Fowler
Invitee: Rebecca Garcia (DEFRA)
Apologies: Paula Boyden (Dogs Trust)

Welsh Assembly Draft Regulations on Dog Breeding

The additional consultation period ended on 14 October.  CF has written to the Minister, Alun Davies, requesting an update, but no reply received so far.  HL offered to try to ascertain the current position.

DAC Recommendations for Regulation

These are with the Minister, Lord de Mauley, and no response has been received so far.

Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG)

It was noted that Steve Dean, Chairman of the KC, has been elected Chair and Victoria Brown, KC, as Secretariat.  It is still not known who the other members of the group are or what its remit and future plans are.  CF will email VB for more information.

Companion Animal Welfare Sector

Still seems to be a muddle.  The Companion Animal Welfare Council (CASC) is run by Peter Scott and is not part of DEFRA (emails from Peter Scott and Adam Broderick (DEFRA Customer Contact Unit) ). Adam Broderick also stated, ‘Sector Councils are not Defra organisations but are sector led. Each sector council has its own terms of reference/remit linked to animal health and welfare outcomes for its sector. Sector Councils are key stakeholders for Defra and AHWBE.’

CAWC is not properly functioning and its future still in some doubt.  Email from Tim Morris (AHWBE) to Geoffrey Clifton-Brown states, ‘Myself and fellow board member Stewart Houston will now be working with Defra’s head of animal welfare to consider ways in which Government might support CAWC as an independent animal welfare component.’  This is also supported by the AHWBE Note of meeting 8 October.  DAC Minutes 7 October states, ‘It was noted that the Chairman of FAWC (Peter Jinman) expressed a wish to amalgamate the CAWC and FAWC committees.

A reading of the Notes of AHWBE meetings since its inception suggests that there is very little, if any, concern for the welfare of companion animals. Its work seems to be centred on reducing disease risk and controlling dangerous dogs.  There is a need to raise the welfare profile in the companion animal sector.

Action: Harvey Locke will invite Peter Jinman to the next meeting of DBR on March 27 2014.

House of Lords debate on the Welfare of Dogs and Cats 20 November 2013

Lord Trees spoke strongly about the welfare problems due to exaggerated conformations and breed related genetic diseases.  He also spoke about the welfare issues around puppy farming, cross border trading, over population and online sales. He spoke of the need for more education of the public and promotion of the BVA AWF / RSPCA Puppy Contract.  He also saw the need for the strengthening of statutory controls by modest subsidiary measures under AWA and the repeal of outdated laws.

The Minister, Lord de Mauley, spoke of the coalition’s commitment to promoting responsible dog ownership and their ‘duty of care’ under the AWA.  He spoke also of, better education of buyers and sellers and promotion of the Puppy Contract.  He said that minimum standards have now been drawn up for classified websites (although adherence to these standards is voluntary). However, the Government have no plans to consolidate dog legislation.  He thought that breeders of two or more litters per year should be licensed by the LA. He announced that Defra will shortly be releasing new guidance for licensed breeding establishments.

We noted that local authorities would probably not be willing to undertake more inspections of dog breeding premises due to the shrinking of their budgets and lack of qualified staff.  However, it could be argued that having more licensed breeders and charging them would cover the costs.

Update on working groups

Pet Advertisers Advisory Group (PAAG) have published minimum standards for classified ads on websites and provided moderators who will report any suspect ads of puppies or dogs.  PAAG’s standards have been endorsed by DEFRA.  It should be noted, however, that very few companies have signed up to those minimum standards.

The Guidance for LAs for the inspection of dog breeding establishments is finished but has not yet been published and forwarded to LAs.

The DAC’s Breeding Standard Working Group’s recommendations have not yet been agreed by the Kennel Club.

The BVA AWF / RSPCA Puppy Contract has not yet been endorsed by the Kennel Club despite them saying they agree with it in principle. The Blue Cross has now endorsed it.

The Microchip Alliance is still working on the details of compulsory microchipping.  Some problems remain. There are currently four databases which are likely to continue (rather than a single database).  Mandatory standards need to be set for databases, microchips and implanters.  It is hoped that DEFRA will have these in place ahead of the law being introduced.

DAC meeting 3 December

CR reported on the recent DAC meeting held in public. This was a very well attended meeting which covered progress on the agreed Breeding Standard, addressing issues of selection for extremes of conformation, outcrossing, the problem of the ubiquitous nature of the Chiari malformation in CKCS, a generic introduction for all breed standards, addressing the priority health/welfare issues.

Please refer to the Minutes of the meeting on the Council’s website (when finalised)

BVA /KC Heart Scheme

Harvey Locke expressed the hope that the scheme would be launched in 2014 but news of the scheme has been hampered due to Sandra Webber’s (BVA) absence from work.  HL will provide an update to the Group.

BVA / KC CMSM Scheme

At the APGAW meeting on 3 December Steve Dean said there were problems with the scheme due to disagreement between experts.

However we believe it is more a case of objections from Cavalier breeders to the scheme. They would like the leading CMSM expert Dr Clare Rusbridge to be removed from the scheme.  However, it should be noted that every MRI scan is scrutinised by two members of the panel and that Mike Herrtage is the chief scrutineer.  Clare has stated that she is not inclined to resign unless the Cavalier Club makes it a requirement for the 20 most popular stud dogs to be MRI scanned according to the scheme and within 12 months of her resigning.

The publication of results is a problem for breeders as they do not wish anyone else to know the MRI status of their dogs.

Some vets offer cheaper alternatives and the fact that these may not be as rigorous is seen as an advantage by breeders who object to the cost of using the official scheme.

Breeders are also unhappy that the scheme does not provide information about ear disease and ventricular size although this information can be provided separately.

There is a perceived delay in getting the results of screening, although results are usually provided in four weeks.

The DBR group agreed that the KC Chairman’s statement that problems with the scheme were due to disagreement between experts was unhelpful.  It would appear that the KC wants the scheme to fail rather than wholeheartedly supporting it and taking a strong lead.

This will be discussed at the meeting with the KC on January 30 (CF and GCB)

Brachycephalic conference at RVC

An excellent conference on 11 November presented the welfare issues around dog breeds with short heads and short noses who can suffer from a number of conditions, such as over nose roll, skin conditions causes by wrinkled skin, soft palate problems, stenotic nares (narrow nostrils), brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), difficulty in controlling temperature, inability to exercise normally and enjoy life as a dog should.  A report on the conference and recommendations will be available soon.

Meeting with President of the National Dog Wardens Association

CF met with Sue Bell on 17 October. Sue agreed to attend the DAC meeting and APGAW meeting on 3 December but unfortunately was unable to attend at the last minute.  Sue has vast experience of the work of LA dog wardens and insights into how local authorities deal with dog welfare. She confirmed that LAs differ hugely in their approach to dog welfare – the main problem being lack of resources and expertise. More detailed information was promised.  CF will pursue.

KC Assured Breeders Scheme

CF suggested that more detailed information was needed on the operation of the ABS since UKAS accreditation  (‘the devil is in the detail’).  Jemima Harrison has drawn attention to the ABS scheme in a recent blog.   The figures produced by Jemima so far are that there were 598 new ABS breeders registered in 2013.  17 have been inspected (2.8%).  78 of these are currently advertising litters on the KC Puppy finder. Only 5 (6.2%) of these have been inspected.  135 of these have registered 5 or more litters.  14 inspected (10.3%).  It is possible that 200-300 inspections are ‘in process’ so the above figures may increase by 8%.

CF has met with Jackie Aldridge (volunteer researcher) who has agreed to carry out some detailed research into the scheme in the New Year.

EU conference on the welfare of dogs and cats 28 October 2013

Over 400 delegates attended this conference which recognised the need to provide better welfare protection for dogs and cats in the EU.  A further conference will be held in Rome in November 2014.

Link with Eurogroup for Animals

It was agreed that we should link with Claire Calder at the Eurogroup for Animals.  A copy of the Notes of DBRG meetings will be sent to Claire and CF will keep in touch with her for periodic ‘catch ups’.  The aims of the Eurogroup are: compulsory identification and registration of all dogs on a database linked to a EU database;  EU legislation requiring the licensing of breeders and traders by member states;  EU legislation to prevent the breeding of dogs in a way that is likely to result in exaggerated conformation and inherited disorders;  improved standards for the showing and pedigree registration of dogs so that animal welfare is prioritised;  EU legislation requiring all dogs to have a pet passport registered on a database accessible across the EU.

ALAW and CASJ Conference on Animal Law and Public Policy 2-3 November 2013

See separate paper by Dan O’Neill (attached) and Fiona Cooke’s PhD thesis (Aberdeen University) Local Authority (LA) regulation and enforcement at local level

Main messages:  Animal welfare is not a government priority (if a concern at all).  Welfare considerations are often conspicuous by their absence and only occasionally occur as a result of other measures.  Animal welfare always loses against economics.   Less than 25% of local authorities in the UK do any work in the area of companion animal welfare. There is a need to raise the welfare profile, particularly of companion animals.

RSPCA plans for Dog Breeding and Welfare Campaign 2014

Following press and social media activity around the five year anniversary of ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’ in August, the RSPCA is currently discussing future work around dog breeding and how best to affect change.  The results of the RSPCA funded VetCOMPASS PhD project will form a big part of that.

APGAW update

The plan to create a sub group for Dog Welfare within APGAW is very much welcomed. We look forward to getting more details from Marisa when plans are finalised.

DBRG Objectives

No time to discuss.  They remain unchanged for now but CF will ‘tweak’ wording

Circulation of DBRG Notes of meetings

No time to discuss but suggest:  AHWBE (Tim Morris),  Sue Bell (NDWA),  Lord Trees,  Rebeca Garcia (DEFRA), Claire Calder (Eurogroup for Animals), Lord de Mauley’s office, Huw Irranca-Davies, MP, Jim Fitzpatrick, MP, James Kirkwood (UFAW)

Future of DBRG

CF wondered if DBRG should cease once the new APGAW group had been set up.  The feeling was that we should continue for the time being at least but bear in mind our effectiveness (or lack of it)

Meeting with the KC

The meeting between CF / GC-B and the KC will now take place on 30 January 2013. Please let us know if there is anything you would like us to raise.

Date of next meeting 27 March 2014 12.00 – 14.00pm

Additional

HL and CF Meeting with Lord Trees,  12 December 2014

Lord Trees understands the breeding issues very well and shares our concerns.  He has offered to help and can do so by raising awareness among his colleagues by such means as written questions, questions in chamber, a one hour debate, influencing APGAW re meetings, private members bill, speaking to Rupert de Mauley.  CF will liaise with his intern, Hannah Jordan.

Notes compiled by CF