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Dog breeding - a call for evidence
New independent inquiry launched


AN INDEPENDENT inquiry into dog breeding was launched this week, which states its intention to consider whether the health and welfare of dogs, and particularly pedigree dogs, is affected and/or can be improved by reference to the registration, breeding and showing of dogs.

Professor Sir Patrick Bateson, Chairman of the Independent Inquiry into dog breeding, has invited any and all interested parties to submit evidence.

The Inquiry has been jointly funded by The Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust, and with another one round the corner from the RSPCA, will do doubt cause yet more concern for pedigree breeders and exhibitors, who may well feel that it seems like just one more body trying to find fault rather than do anything constructive.


Joint funding

Sir Patrick BatesonThough funded by the two bodies, they will have no further input. The inquiry does intend, however, to use information made available by the KC and the Dogs Trust as part of its research.
Professor Bateson told OUR DOGS: ‘Our aim is to develop practical recommendations that will significantly benefit both pedigree and non-pedigree dogs. It is vital therefore that we receive evidence from a very wide field. Many people in animal welfare charities, dog breeding and show societies, veterinary and government organisations and in academia have a wealth and breadth of knowledge and expertise on this issue.

‘I would urge everyone with an interest to visit the Inquiry website www.dogbreedinginquiry.com and let us have their response as soon as possible.’

Clarissa Baldwin, Chief Executive, Dogs Trust and Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko added: ‘In the last few months there has been much debate and many suggested ideas about how best to secure the future health of all dogs. Now is the time for people to commit these thoughts to paper and to support Professor Bateson’s Inquiry by submitting evidence. This is essential to ensure that resulting recommendations reflect the widest breadth of expertise available to the panel.’

Farming and Environment Minister Jane Kennedy said: ‘This is an issue of great concern to many people. I think everyone wants to ensure that breeding is carried out safely and responsibly and I look forward to seeing the practical recommendations from Sir Patrick’s inquiry.’

Compulsory registration

In its Terms of Reference, it states the following: ‘The Review Board will take evidence to determine in relation to the breeding of all dogs:

‘a. Whether there should be compulsory registration of all dogs used for breeding and if so how the minimum standards should be set and enforced for those who breed dogs, for the dogs used for such breeding and for those organisations that maintain such registers.

‘b. Whether current breed standards for pedigree dogs are appropriate to protect the health and welfare of pedigree dogs;

‘c. What is currently being done to improve the health of dogs being bred and by whom;

‘d. How efforts to research and control inherited disease should be led and how these should be paid for;

‘e. Whether specific government legislation or other mechanisms are required to protect the welfare of all dogs being bred from.

‘f. Whether registries should be obliged to refuse registration in the event that required minimum standards are not met.’

The full document and downloadable evidence Form can be found at www.dogbreedingenquiry.com

There will no doubt be raised eyebrows over the statement in item a, which talks about the ‘organisations responsible for maintaining registers.’ Most people think that is the role of the KC already; who else is being suggested as a keeper of a breeders register one may ask?

Many have already given their reactions to the overall topic (see OUR DOGS letters pages and message board every week); the whole subject was clearly stimulated by the one sided BBC film on pedigree dogs and whilst most agree that some bad breeding practices still exist (as in any walk of life), no caring breeder would seriously consider breeding unhealthy dogs. Are not the caring breeders in the majority? Will it be that the findings of this or any other committee will be adhered to by the caring people and ignored by the puppy farmers or causal back street breeders of this world? The same scenario existed when dog licences were required, the honest people stuck to the law, the others ignored it!

Expertise

Many people speaking at last week’s Westminster show in the USA held the same views. They are sick and tired of caring, intelligent dog breeders being victimised (there were PETA demonstrations outside Madison Square Garden) whilst rescue dogs are becoming a greater focus of attention. Again, everyone agrees that we should help rescue and try and prevent the causes, but let’s also recognise the years of knowledge and expertise put in by experts in breeds who have tried to breed healthy and good looking specimens that are fit for purpose; let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water here.

Cats?

Equally, it seems strange that dog breeders appear to be the ‘flavour of the year’ for committees and enquiries. Why are people not demonstrating about the breeding and showing of cats, or fancy rats, or birds or horses?

OUR DOGS also recommends that you read this week’s SPEAKERS CORNER by Dave Cavill, as he gives us a clear insight to the latest document issued by CAWC: yet another committee on animal welfare.

Sir Patrick Bateson is emeritus Professor of Ethology at Cambridge University and president of the Zoological Society of London. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1983, and though he has retired as the biological secretary of the Society and as Provost of King’s College, he continues to research, lecture, and advise Parliament on scientific matters.

His many books and articles on ethology, animal welfare, developmental biology and genetics include Design For a Life: How Behaviour Develops (1999, with Paul Martin), and Measuring Behaviour. He has also edited or co-edited several books, including Mate Choice, The Development and Integration of Behaviour, Behavioural Mechanisms in Evolutionary Perspective and the series Perspectives in Ethology.


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