THE TIMETABLE to proposed compulsory registration for dogs and cats was clarified by the President of an animal pressure group which is one of many consultative bodies to advise the Government.
Three weeks ago, the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) launched its report on the Identification and Registration of Companion Animals at a meeting in London which was opened by DEFRA Minister Elliot Morley.
However, Kennel Club representatives present at the meeting were concerned to note that within the CAWC recommendations, the DIG (Dog Identification Group) report, of which the Kennel Club was secretariat, was referred to. The DIG report published in 2000 - recommended a five year period of voluntary identification to be monitored and targeted to achieve an 80% uptake by the end of that period. The CAWC report appeared to state that two years of the five-year trial term have already been completed, which is incorrect as, to date, the DIG report has not been taken up by Government. CAWC have recommended that compulsory permanent identification and registration of all dogs should commence in three years time, which is clearly at odds with the Kennel Club view that the DIG trial has not begun.
There weeks ago, OUR DOGS attempted to make contact with CAWC who have recently moved their HQ from London to Essex and thus garner a comment, but were unsuccessful.
However, CAWCs President, Lord Soulsby has since contacted OUR DOGS and has clarified the terms of the CAWC report and attempted to allay the apparent discrepancy on the timetable for dog (and cat) registration.
Lord Soulsby said: "I believe the clock started ticking when our report was launched three weeks ago.
Basically, the DIG report from two years ago and the CAWC report in October 2002 are two separate documents, although both include and draw upon similar evidence. Both also reach similar conclusions regarding animal registration, which is significant.
"CAWC have indicated that a three year-period for the take up of voluntary dog registration, followed compulsory registration is a reasonable time and this is entirely coincidental with the DIG report, which referred to a five year period for voluntary registration when it was launched two years ago.
"As yet, the Government have not replied to our report, although I am aware that they are sympathetic to both CAWC and the DIG's recommendations on voluntary dog registration."
Caroline's Kisko, General Secretary of the kennel Club responded to Lord Soulsbys comments, saying: "The Kennel Club still views this report with some concern since it advocates the compulsory permanent identification of all dogs within three years and of all cats in five years.
"While the aims may be laudable, the practicalities are very different and the Kennel Club continues to work towards the voluntary permanent identification of dogs based on the benefits to be gained through peace of mind for the owner rather than a 'heavy handed' approach towards registration. "It would appear that our concerns have been echoed by the NCDL, as Clarissa Baldwin, the Chief Executive, has just recently said that mandatory registration is not the answer. I know that the Kennel Club and the NCDL are not the only two organisations which oppose compulsory registration."