UK Considers Radical Dog Breeding Laws

A new report has recognized that pedigree dogs in the UK suffer from health and welfare problems.

Following a debate in the UK last year about the health of pedigree dogs, the Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust commissioned a report titled Independent Inquiry Into Dog Breeding. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has welcomed the findings of the report, which states that urgent action is required to improve the health and welfare of pedigree dogs. The report was written by the leading zoologist Professor Sir Patrick Bateson.

The report recommends that an independent non-statutory Council be formed to develop breeding strategies which address issues of inherited disease, extreme conformation and inbreeding. The RSPCA is already working with the University of Sydney and the Royal Veterinary College on a three-year research project to create a new, electronic, system for collecting, analyzing and reporting data on inherited disorders in both dogs and cats. When complete, for the first time in the UK there will be comprehensive data to show the prevalence of inherited disorders in specific breeds.

Citing the welfare concerns of "puppy farms", the report also recommends that the law is changed to require compulsory micro-chipping of all puppies and that breeders have a duty of care for parents and offspring. The report also recommends that a robust Accredited Breeder Scheme be set up to require pre-mating health tests. To help drive this change, the report regards a publicity and educational campaign important in improving the way the public think about buying dogs.

RSPCA chief veterinary adviser Mark Evans said: "The world has woken up to the extremely unpalatable truth that the health and welfare of many pedigree dogs is seriously compromised as a result of the way they are bred. Pedigree dogs need our help and they need it now. Some are suffering as a result of what Darwin’s disciples might refer to as ‘unnatural selection’ – survival of the most fashionable rather than the fittest. This report is what we have all been waiting for and we hope that now we can all get on and start working towards meaningful change for pedigree dogs."

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