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EU plan to limit transportation of pets

A NEW EU directive designed to protect the welfare of animals during transport is set to come into effect in the UK from January next year. However, reading of the document indicates that the freedom of movement of animals that have been bred by hobbyists – including dog breeders and exhibitors – will be severely curtailed.

The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has launched a consultation document to all interested parties (‘stakeholders’ in Governmental parlance), but all submissions on this far-reaching and wide-ranging subject close at the end of July. Worryingly, however, very few dog enthusiasts are aware of this new regulation and the impact it could have on their activities, depending on how the regulation is interpreted by individual officials.

The consultation paper states: ‘EU Regulation 1/20051 on the welfare of animals during transport comes into force on 5 January 2007, with requirements for competence certificates coming into force on 5 January 2008…. While the Regulation is directly applicable, national legislation is needed to provide for enforcement and penalty provisions, proposed derogations from the rules and potential charges for authorisations.

The Regulation aims to improve animal welfare through raising transportation standards. In particular, it provides significant improvements in enforcement capability in respect of all species. The new rules are generally supported by farming industry and welfare groups.’

However, DEFRA – on behalf of the Government – recognize that in itself, the directive’s requirements are ‘…potentially burdensome on farmers and commercial transporters’ and ‘…In recognition of this, we intend that implementation should strike a balance between animal welfare benefits, cost and ease of compliance/enforcement - particularly where the burdens fall on small businesses.’

The document goes on to state that in order to help stakeholders determine if this consultation affects them or their members the following is a list (although this is not necessarily exclusive) of those businesses or individuals that DEFRA think are affected by the new rules:

l Those organising journeys or transporting vertebrate animals ‘in connection with an economic activity’. At a minimum this will include farmers, livestock hauliers, those who move horses in connection with professional riding, livery, stabling, those involved in pet breeding or racing (e.g. cats and dogs, pigeons), or those moving animals used in films, zoos and leisure parks. It does not apply to the transport of non-vertebrates such as insects, worms, crustaceans (e.g. crab, lobster), cephalopods (e.g. octopus, squid), and molluscs (e.g. shellfish, snail). However, current national welfare provisions relating to these species will be retained.

Impact

DEFRA state that there will be no changes to the current rules on maximum journey times - although there will be new restrictions on moving young animals, which could include puppies - feeding, watering and rest periods during a journey and space allowances.

However a number of new provisions are scheduled to come into force, from January 5th 2007 as follows:-

Those transporting animals for commercial purposes (in connection with an ‘economic activity’) on journeys over 65km (approx 40 miles) will need to have a specific authorisation

Stricter vehicle standards apply

Those transporting animals over 8 hours will need a vehicle approval

Those handling or transporting animals over 65km must be competent

Decisions taken

The DEFRA document clearly says that the UK Government can do nothing about the EU regulation itself: ‘Stakeholders should be aware that we cannot change the requirements of the EU Regulation itself. Therefore where the text of the Regulation is referred to this is not an issue for consultation. The rules are directly applicable throughout the EU. We have summarized… the main issues that are not subject to consultation and any comments on these issues will not be taken into consideration in this consultation.’

‘Commercial Activity’

According to the EU document, any transport of animals undertaken as part of a business or commercial activity, which ‘aims at achieving financial gain, whether direct or indirect, for any person or company involved with the transport’ will be covered by the regulations.

This would include:

Pet animals where the movements are related to economic activity e.g. pet breeders, dog racing, those taking part in filming e.g. advertisements which involve financial gain

Those where animals are transported in order to be sold

This clearly points to breeders being affected, particularly if they transport animals to buyers. One obvious positive point is that puppy farmers may find it increasingly difficult to ply their trade.
However, hobby breeders look set to be snared in the same net.

DEFRA add: ‘As a rough rule of thumb we would expect an owner or transporter carrying his or another person’s animals for profit, or as part of a business, to be covered by the Regulation.’

However, dog enthusiasts and other animal exhibitors can take some comfort in the fact that DEFRA do not see the regulations as applying to animals transported to pet shows. DEFRA state:

‘We would not expect the transport of pet animals by their owners to and from events such as shows, even where they win minor cash or other prizes, to be covered. The presence of gambling at an event would not in itself make the transport of animals to it an economic activity.

‘We consider the following kinds of journeys are not connected with an economic activity.
Those:-

Consisting of a single animal accompanied by a person who has responsibility for its welfare (or two animals accompanied by two people)

Pet animals accompanied by their owner on a private journey

Pet animals taken to and from a specialist show or competition, where the primary purpose is for pleasure or competition, not as part of a business, e.g. pet breeders

However, as with many pieces of legislation that affect the individual dog owner, the devil is in the detail In Appendix 6 (section 5.30) of the lengthy document, DEFRA Suggest the following businesses and people will be affected by the regulations: Dog Breeders: 4,900 Boarding Kennels and Boarding Catteries: 5,000

It is not specified whether these figures are UK wide. However, under separate listings for the Welsh and Scottish Assembly versions of the EU directive, different figures appear.

The Welsh Assembly Document suggests that 5,500 dog breeders will be affected, whilst 5,500 Boarding Kennels and Boarding Catteries will be affected.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Executive suggests that 900 Dog Breeders and 1,000 Boarding Kennels and Boarding Catteries will be affected.

It is totally unclear whether the Scottish, Welsh and Westminster administrations have shared information, which begs the question whether only 900 dog breeders UK wide will be affected or whether that figure is 5,500 or 4,900 or there are, in fact 11,300 breeders.

OUR DOGS sought clarification on the directive and how it affected dog enthusiasts from the Kennel Club and received a brief comment from Press Officer Rebecca Smart, who said: ‘We are concerned with the implications but we are already working with Defra on this and other aspects of the regulations for the Animal Welfare Bill and have, thus far at least, been assured that dog shows won't be affected. However we will continue to keep a watchful eye on things as they progress.’

The link to the DEFRA document is:
http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/animaltransport-eureg/consultdoc.pdf

OUR DOGS will continue to monitor this regulation and how it may affect dog enthusiasts in coming issues.