End BackStreet Breeding Campaign

licensed Battersea Dogs & Cats Home established an End Backstreet Breeding campaign in 2015 aimed at lowering the licensing threshold to two litters in stead of five as at present and closing loopholes to stop the sale of dogs below eight weeks of age to pet shops and dealers.

There are currently 895 licensed dog breeders using an estimated 13,425 breeding bitches (assuming that each bitch has one litter per year) in 379 Local Authorities areas in England, Wales and Scotland; an increase of 32% since 2010. 40% are located in 6% of the local authorities, clustering in mid and west Wales, Lincolnshire, East Anglia and some rural areas of Scotland. The law in Wales changed in April 2015, licensing all breeders at the third litter and bringing a further 500 breeders into the scope of licensing. The costs of inspection can be reclaimed through the application fee. One third of Local Authorities do not license any breeders and fewer than 12% of puppies born in Great Britain are bred by licensed breeders in any given year. Effective enforcement of regulations varies markedly from one area to another. Licensed dog breeders produce an estimated 67,125 puppies annually, some using 10 or fewer breeding bitches but five with more than 100 breeding bitches and the largest with 200. Just 5 licences were refused in 2014 for failing to provide adequate accommodation or levels of supervision. 88% of puppies are bred outside of the licensing regulations.

Although the average number of bitches used for breeding in any one establishment is 10, large establishments are responsible for 75% of breeding. Staff in councils where few licences are issued may not have much expertise or training in dealing with dogs. The C.A.R.I.A.D campaign for instance, is well aware of puppy farms that are repeatedly given licences in spite of appalling breeding practices and conditions. This was also highlighted in the recent BBC TV documentary The Dog Factory. In addition to large variations in the fee structure between local authorities, new applications may be required to pay additional vet fees costing between £100 and £300. Basic fees vary between £23 in Glasgow to £741 in the London Borough of Lambeth, in spite of the fact that local authorities are prohibited from making a profit from the licence fee, setting a high fee as a deterrent or setting a fee low to attract businesses to their area.

Reducing the legal requirement to obtain a licence to two litters a year is not likely to improve the situation. Although this campaign should be supported, it does not go far enough. Anyone breeding a dog should be licensed and resources need to be put into enforcement as fees are collected to pay for it. There should be a massive public information campaign and breeders should be traced through online advertisements and the remaining pet shops that still sell dogs.

45% Of Dogs Are Not Microchipped

A survey of 3,000 UK-based dog owners carried out by OnePoll on behalf of the Dogs Trust reveals that one in five dog owners are not prepared for the changes to the microchipping law that will come into force in England, Wales and Scotland in April 2016. 45% of existing owners have not chipped their dogs.

Approximately half of dogs that currently find their way into rescue shelters cannot be rehomed either because they are not chipped or because the chip details have not been kept up to date. From April 6th, 2016 all dogs must be microchipped and registered to an approved database by the time they are 8 weeks old.

Microchips are not proof of ownership but the person to whom the chip is registered is regarded for legal purposes as the keeper of the animal. The keeper can be served with a notice requiring microchipping within 21 days. Details, including changes of telephone number must be kept up to date on the register.

Failure to chip or to keep details updated can be subject to a £500 fine.

Only trained implanters can microchip animals. Vets will microchip your dog for a fee but there are several local authority-run free microchipping events and it is often offered at dog shows and similar events. The Dogs Trust runs free sessions around the country as do local authorities and rescue orgnisations.

Don’t be one of the 45% – get your dog microchipped now!

Good News and Bad News

Dicken medal The news that Diesel, the seven year old Malinois that was killed in the appalling attacks in St Denis, Paris in November, is to receive the PDSA Dicken medal is wonderful. Like all service animals, he had no choice about the job that he was required to do. Russia has shown solidarity by sending a replacement puppy, Dobrynia for training.

The bad news is that a man has drowned off Portmellon, Cornwall trying to save his dog who got into trouble when swimming in the sea. At the time of writing, there is no news of the dog. However tempting, it is almost always an error to try and help a swimming dog in difficulties. Often the dog will manage to get to shore and the human will not. One local newspaper reported that the man had in fact gone in after a ball and not the dog.

Check conditions and never let your dog swim unless you are sure that the tide, winds and currents are favourable and that there is nothing in freshwater that can trap or otherwise hurt your dog. You can always attach a long line to your dog’s collar. Most of all, never go in after your dog – call the coastguard. The sea is dangerous; respect it.

Breaking news is that a Preston man has been killed by his own dog. At time of writing, no details are available but it isn’t hard to guess the circumstances. The dog has been euthanised.