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Breeders’ concerns over Bateson inquiry

DOG BREEDERS have voiced concerns over the questions being posed in the Bateson Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding, with many feeling that a lot are posed to suit the inquiry.

The review, which is being funded jointly by the Dogs Trust and the KC, is being conducted by Prof. Sir Patrick Bateson FRS, of Cambridge University. It also has the support of DEFRA, who were involved in Prof. Bateson’s appointment as Chair.

Breeders are asked to submit a form entitled ‘Call for Evidence’, which asks 10 key questions relating to breeding, health and disease in the dog. The initial request stated that it wanted views from the ‘broadest possible range of parties.’ All completed forms are required by the deadline of May 15, and can be taken via e-mail or post, with a request to include supporting evidence where possible.

However, some breeders who have read the questions are concerned that the questions are possibly worded in such a way that answers may not appear to give an entirely accurate response from the breeder.

Some questions, such as ‘Do you agree or disagree that specific welfare issues arise from dog breeding?’ are clearly straight forward. However, the question ‘Do you believe that in some circumstances the maintainance of breed purity outweighs all wellfare considerations? Give your reasons’ is perhaps not so cleanly cut. Some are also worried that people may use the questionnaire to ‘have a go’ at people, as requests for breed specifics and names of organisations are encouraged.

One breeder who spoke to OUR DOGS said: ‘I am, as ever, always happy to help in anything which brings into focus the health and welfare of my breed (Pug), and pedigree dogs in general. However, the downloaded form asks questions which I feel are worded in such a way that no matter how I answer them, the reply won’t sound right!’

Another breeder we spoke to said: ‘I personally feel that the questions which are posed in the ‘Terms of Reference’ section are actually fairer, more clearly worded and far easier to respond to honestly than the ‘real’ questions. So that’s what I’ve done, I’ve answered the questions on the Terms of Reference page and sent that instead! If they want to use it they can!’

The questions in the ‘Terms of Reference’ include: Should there be compulsory registration of all dogs used for breeding and if so how should the minimum standards be set? Whether current breed standards are appropriate and whether registries should be obliged to refuse registration in the event that minimum standards are not set?

The findings of the Inquiry will no doubt make for interesting reading, with evidence from breeders, dog show representatives, members and officials of the KC, veterinary organisations and welfare charities.

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