Reforms Needed

These are the measures that I think should be implemented:

Government

  • Running DogThe Breeding of Dogs Act 1973, the Breeding of Dogs Act 1991 and the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 should be repealed and replaced by regulations made under the  Animal Welfare Act 2006, to enable the protection of dogs from the welfare impact of genetic diseases and exaggerated or unnatural traits.
  • Add protection for dogs (including the offspring of any mating) from the harmful effects of genetic diseases and traits to the Defra Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs [PDF]. Make this Code a statutory code.
  • Protect dogs from the abuse and neglect associated with large scale commercial breeding establishments (‘puppy farms’)
  • Prohibit the sale of dogs through third parties (‘pet shops’ or dealers)
  • Ratify the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (ECPPA)  adopting the principle:  ‘No one should breed 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)’ .
  • Implement the permanent identification (PI) of dogs by microchip, linking each dog to its breeder.
  • Promote and support the British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation (BVA AWF) and RSPCA Puppy Contract.
  • Make the Dog Advisory Council’s Breeding Standard a statutory Code of Practice.
  • Require the local authority licensing of breeders who breed 3 or more litters a year.
  • Require all breeders to be registered with local authorities
  • Require local authorities to make public the name, registration number, telephone number and address of all breeders within their area.
  • Include Animal Welfare as part of the school curriculum

Kennel Club

  • Make Kennel Club registration a recognised mark of quality by only registering litters from dogs which have been health screened or DNA tested and found to be clear of breed specific hereditary disease. (This must include all schemes – not just the BVA/KC and other ‘official’ schemes)
  • Actively promote the three welfare principles agreed at the BVA AWF stakeholder meeting 2009:
    Every dog should be born with the best possible chance of living a healthy and happy life, well suited to its intended lifestyle.
    All those who breed dogs should prioritise health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing which animals to breed, in order to protect the welfare of both the parents and offspring.
    All those who benefit from dogs have a collective responsibility to work together to protect dog welfare.
  • Promote a long term project to collect DNA from all dog breeds to facilitate future DNA tests (as in Finland).
  • Limit the use of stud dogs to no more than 12 litters (the exact number of litters would depend on existing genetic diversity and would therefore need to be breed specific)
  • Using data from Mate Select, promote and monitor the lowering of the breed average COI in all breeds to below 6% based on a ten generation pedigree. Record COIs of individual dogs on pedigree certificates against the breed average.
  • Where Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) or Genetic Breeding Values (GeBV) are available, record these on pedigree certificates
  • Ban the mating of second degree relatives such as grandfather to grand daughter.
  • Actively promote the outcrossing of a breed to a related breed in order to reinvigorate the original breed’s gene pool if the Effective Population Size falls below 50, or where the incidence of a particular condition is high
  • Require the use of the RSPCA/BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Advisory Council’s Breeding Standard for all KC registered breeders (the Kennel Clubs Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance may be used instead of the Council’s Breeding Standard)
  • Require breed club committees to have at least one member to represent the interests of pet owners.
  • Provide compulsory training for judges where the priority is health and soundness, and in order to avoid exaggerated traits.
  • Require breed clubs to keep an Open Health Registry so that the occurrence of all genetic diseases can be monitored and openly shared by breeders and prospective puppy buyers. Date and cause of death should be recorded.
  • Join the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in order to unite with kennel clubs around the world.

Working Labradors