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Pressure mounts on Welsh Government

Issue: 04/10/2019

Pressure on the Welsh Government to exempt dog shows from its proposed Animal Exhibits legislation continues to grow.
Under the proposed legislation, show dogs would have to be licensed if shown in Wales. It will also mean that Welsh dogs will need to be licensed if they wish to be shown elsewhere.
The Welsh Government sent a response to a letter OUR DOGS had sent to the Welsh Environment minister Lesley Griffiths inquiring about the proposed scheme.
At the moment the proposed legislation is out for consultation and they replied, ‘This consultation is being undertaken to assess the options going forward and ensure, as far as possible, any new legislation is proportionate and reasonable, and does not create an additional burden on owners whose animals are primarily kept as pets but who enjoy, for example, showing their animals as a hobby.’
Some feel that the Welsh Government is now making the right noises whilst others have dismissed this as a automatic response and pressure needs to be maintained.
The government go on to say, ‘The Welsh Government is determined to reinforce our commitment to ensure the highest welfare standards are in place for all animals kept in Wales. It will clearly demonstrate to visitors and residents of Wales alike that we are a nation of animal lovers and the welfare of exhibited animals is taken seriously.’
There is a petition, set up by OUR DOGS, for people to sign on the Welsh Assembly page - https://www.assembly.wales/en/gethome/e-petitions/Pages/petitiondetail.aspx?PetitionID=1638
Also, the Kennel Club have arranged resources on their website, including advice on approaching Assembly Members and advice – https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/welshcon.
They are also formulating their response to the consultation and they plan to meet with assembly members and civil servants.
There are plans to distribute material at the upcoming South Wales show so that exhibitors can keep the pressure on the government.
Other concerned organisations have also responded to the proposals. The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy have sent a letter to animal welfare committee members in the Assembly.
They write, ‘It has been brought to the attention of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) by concerned exhibitors that the Welsh Government is currently consulting on new Regulations regarding Animal Exhibits which include a proposal that anyone exhibiting (showing) a dog or cat (or other pet species) in Wales will need to be licensed and inspected. 
‘It is understood that the welfare of animals is the prime purpose of this legislation, but those who exhibit cats are pet owners enjoying a hobby in their own time and for no gain. 
‘It would seem both impractical and unnecessary to require them to obtain a licence even if showing on a more regular basis rather than the once or twice a year as is currently proposed.’

Puzzling

They go on to say, ‘The process of operating this licensing is puzzling. Given that in most cases exhibitors leave Wales and travel to England, unless there are to be border guards at the bridges and along Offa’s Dyke on Saturday mornings and evenings to search the vehicles of those living within the principality it would seem that any legislation of this nature could not be effectively put into practice.
‘The alternative, of neighbours being asked to report on those they live near to who have animals they show, doesn’t even bear thinking about, but it should be noted that some of our exhibitors who asked that this letter be written on their behalf were reluctant to write in and supply their own contact details in case they should in future find an inspector on their doorstep demanding admission to look around their home, and/or threatening the removal of their pets. 
‘Surely, such outcomes to this legislation cannot have been contemplated. We ask that the Welsh Government adds the ‘keeping of dogs and cats engaged in competitive events at shows regulated by the Kennel Club or GCCF’ to Regulation 3(4), which lists a number of exempted activities that are proposed should not be subject to the proposed licensing scheme.’
OUR DOGS have also created a short template letter to use - https://www.ourdogs.co.uk/welshletter/letter.docx.
You can reply to the consultation here - https://gov.wales/animal-exhibits.
See our Opinion Column on page 8 of this week’s issue. It also contains some suggestions on possible responses to the consultation questions.


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