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EU Transport directive - dog exhibitors exempt

DOG OWNERS will be exempt from the new EU Transport Of Animals Directive which is due to come in to force in January 2007. This follows intervention by the Kennel Club, which has monitored developments and consulted with DEFRA to ensure that those in the world of dogs are not placed under any undue restrictions.

As reported previously in OUR DOGS the new rules, which come into force across Member States on January 5th 2007, are in place to affect anyone transporting animals in connection with economic activity and if animals are to be transported for commercial gain and over 65km, an application will need to be made for a ‘Transporter Authorisation’.

The Kennel Club had initially received assurances from DEFRA that the dog showing fraternity would not be affected by the regulations, but recently concern was raised when DEFRA Animal Minister Ben Bradshaw responded to a Parliamentary Question raised, by saying that ‘professional’ breeders would be affected. As a result of this statement the KC sought a meeting with DEFRA to define what exactly is meant by ‘professional’, and to express disappointment at the poor advice previously received.

DEFRA confirmed that ‘professional’ was specifically referring to ‘commercial’ breeders who are defined by their income exceeding their expenditure. If their income does exceed the expenses of breeding, and/or showing, and they do transport dogs over the ratio of 1:1 person to dog, they would need to complete an application.

In the same Parliamentary Question response Ben Bradshaw had assured the Kennel Club that the winning of prizes at shows and trials should not be regarded as making the transport of dogs to them ‘commercial’. However the regulation will apply to so called ‘commercial’ breeders transporting dogs to shows and trials.

Further, those who breed dogs as a ‘hobby’ will be excluded from the scope of the regulations providing that their income source does not exceed the expenses of the hobby and as long as there isn’t ‘significant’ commercial gain, in other words they are not running a business of breeding dogs.

The Kennel Club pointed out to DEFRA that, far from being commercial, competitors spend more money attending canine events than they could ever recuperate, and they spend this money because it is their hobby. Dog shows and trials are events giving dog lovers and hobbyists the chance to compete with their dogs, and see other dogs in competition.

A similar representation was made by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and led to DEFRA pronouncing cat fanciers as exempt from the Directive under the same ‘non-commercial’ terms, in late October. The exemption for dogs was only confirmed earlier this week.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, commented: ‘We are very disappointed with this apparent ‘U’ turn but are relieved that the vast majority of breeders won’t be affected because they are hobbyists who breed for pleasure and sell their puppies, fairly priced, to help cover the costs of veterinary bills, health-screening tests and DNA tests. It would also be extremely unusual for responsible breeders to ‘transport’ a litter of puppies to sell them, as in most cases a potential buyer would visit the puppy at home to talk to the breeder and see the puppy and its mother together before taking it home, a course of action that we would certainly see as the norm. Since the regulation is focussed on the transportation of animals for commercial purposes, it should not affect dog exhibitors, visitors to dog shows and trials, and responsible dog breeders.’

Ms Kisko concluded: ‘We need to see this as being good news in the fight against so- called puppy farmers. By the closer monitoring of the transport of animals, including puppies, those who do so purely for commercial purposes will be more easily identified, helping in the bid to put an end to puppy farming and the breeding of bitches at successive seasons with little regard for the dogs’ welfare and purely to make a profit. DEFRA has pledged to monitor the success of the Accredited Breeder Scheme, to recognise those breeders who follow best practice and to drive puppy farmers out of business.’