Accredited breeders can lead us to the future
Last week the Kennel Club handed a petition bearing 15,000 signatures into Number 10 Downing Street, asking the government to make the principles and standards followed by Kennel Club Accredited Breeders mandatory for anybody breeding dogs.
This has caused both celebration and yet also consternation in some circles, because it is believed that the government should not be stepping in to regulate ‘our world’. But the petition was handed in because there are a growing number of disreputable breeders who breed purely for profit and who do not have the health and welfare of their dogs in mind. The Kennel Club cannot influence or regulate these people; they will operate under the radar, with no laws to stop them, and the state of dog health and welfare – not to mention the reputation of all breeders who will be tarred with the same brush – will decline.
In the absence of legislation, the Kennel Club cannot enforce regulations for all breeders with any positive effect. It is essential that we educate and persuade people about best breeding practice, rather than alienating people so that they slope silently away to a place where there is no regulation or control. A large number of breeders will, if the right approach is taken, listen to the message. Of course, the true puppy farmers – volume breeders who produce puppies only for profit – operate out of sight. Only two percent of people who register dogs with the Kennel Club register more than five litters in a year and that number includes the likes of Guide Dogs for the Blind, who care deeply for the health and welfare of their dogs. We will never persuade puppy farmers to change their tune – we simply have to take away their market.
Nevertheless, legislation does not have to be the only answer. Poorly bred puppies only continue to be supplied because there is a demand from the public. The vast majority of puppy buyers want a healthy, well adjusted puppy, but the problem is ignorance and it is becoming increasingly difficult to spot a ‘bad breeder’. A large percentage of puppy buyers don’t know to ask for proof that the dogs have been given the required health tests for their breed; that they should see the kennelling and breeding conditions and the puppy’s mother; nor that a good breeder will ask questions to determine their suitability for dog ownership. People are often feeding the pockets of disreputable breeders unwittingly because they simply do not know what they should be looking for.
This is why the role that the Kennel Club Accredited Breeder Scheme plays – and could continue to play on an even greater scale if its membership were to grow – is so essential. The scheme is a statement to the outside world that the fundamental principles of good breeding practice are followed by its members. It is the voice of responsible breeders that has sometimes gone unheard. If every responsible breeder were to join the scheme, then this voice would be much louder, and there would exist a single identifiable group whose very existence will not only give peace of mind to puppy buyers, but help to reduce the number of puppy buyers falling into irresponsible hands.
Only responsible breeders will survive
And rest assured; it is only responsible breeders that will survive on the scheme. Every application is checked for compliance and every member agrees to allow a Breeder Advisor access to their premises. The Kennel Club has recently added 11 people to its network of Regional Breeder Advisors, giving a total of 14, so that it can ensure that every scheme member is visited. More than 300 breeders that have not complied with its requirements have already left the scheme.
The overriding problem is not with bad people inside the scheme – it is with good breeders who are outside it. Those breeders who indeed meet, and often go above and beyond, the scheme’s requirements. This is no reason to not join the scheme – in fact, quite the opposite. The Kennel Club does not want to exclude new breeders who want to abide by good practice, but we do want them to be able to be part of a scheme that has experience at its heart, so that they can continue to learn and develop. The new Accolade of Excellence and the three existing Accredited Breeder Accolades reward those who have been producing top quality dogs for many years and enable them to stand as an example to all other responsible breeders on the scheme.
The scheme continues to develop precisely because there is such a body of experience out there, shared between the Kennel Club and the breeders and breed clubs with which it works.
Together, we are best placed to ensure that our requirements and recommendations are continually tailored in the best interests of dogs.
Statutory intervention may be the answer if we want to stop irresponsible breeders from putting the health and welfare of their dogs in jeopardy, but that will not come overnight. In the meantime, it is essential that responsible breeders who register their dogs with the Kennel Club stand up for what they believe in and become part of the Accredited Breeder Scheme – enabling dog buyers to identify those that say ‘yes’ to good breeding practice.
For more information or to join the scheme visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk/accreditedbreederscheme or call 0870 606 6750.
• There are 13 requirements and recommendations for members of the Kennel Club Accredited Breeder Scheme, some of which are:
• Health testing - All members must take the required health tests for their breed. These tests may include hip and elbow dysplasia, inherited eye conditions and DNA testing – and as new conditions are indentified and tests developed, these are added to the scheme.
• Identification - Members are required to permanently identify breeding stock by DNA profile, microchip, or tattoo.
• Socialisation - Care must be taken to socialise the puppies and provide written advice, in the Puppy Sales Wallet, on continuation of socialisation, exercise and future training.
Send your opinion of this story below