Three pieces of legislation affecting dogs will be repealed in October 2018 and a new piece of legislation will be introduced covering the licensing of activities involving animals: specifically in the case of companion dogs, all types of boarding and breeding. The requirements for the provisions made for dogs being boarded are more detailed than previously and are explicit regarding permissions for day care and overnight boarding. The provision which allowed one additional dog to be boarded with an owner’s own dog without requiring licensing has thankfully been rescinded.
Main points for overnight boarding include:
- Dogs may only be boarded in a home
- Boarded dogs must have direct access to a private, non-communal, secure and hazard-free external area and there must be at least two secure physical barriers between any dog and any entrance to or exit from it
- Dogs from different households may only be boarded at the same time with the written consent of every owner
- Each dog must be provided with its own designated room where it can, if necessary, be kept separate from other dogs
- Any equipment that a dog is likely to be in contact with and any toy provided must not pose a risk of pain, suffering, disease or distress to the dog and must be correctly used
- Dogs which on the advice of a veterinarian cannot be exercised must be provided with alternative forms of mental stimulation
- If any person aged under 16 years resides at the home, there must be procedures in place to regulate the interactions between the dogs and that person.
Main points for day care boarding include:
- No dog may be kept on the premises overnight
- There must be an area where any dog can avoid seeing other dogs and people if it so chooses
- All dogs must be screened before being admitted to the premises to ensure that they are not afraid, anxious or stressed in the presence of other dogs or people and do not pose a danger to other dogs or staff
- Any journeys in a vehicle must be planned to minimise the time dogs spend in the vehicle.
Frankly, I know of very few people boarding dogs currently in their home who would be compliant with the new legislation and, in the case of the immediate area where I live, not one is boarding legally anyway. Abuses that I know of include the women who “boards” dogs overnight in her car which is not even always parked outside her house or the woman who let two dogs run out of an open door, one of which was immediately killed by a devastated, dog-owning driver through no fault of his own. The obligation to provide a designated room for each dog should severely limit numbers which is no bad thing. The prohibition on causing pain and suffering by the use of equipment is interesting and could potentially stop the use of a variety of common restraints. It is particularly good news that there are restrictions on contact between boarding dogs and under 16s.
It would have been useful to have had specific provisions for dogs taken away from the home area such as to farms etc which became more common when parks began to restrict the number of dogs that could be walked at any given time. Sadly, very, very few people dealing with dogs recognise signs of fear, anxiety and stress and often miss the subtle signals that dogs show. The restriction on time spent in vehicles is a bit vague, but at least it could include the provision for demonstrating that there is a written plan.
The legislation covering breeding is more straightforward, but there are still potential difficulties in enactment. It states that “A puppy may only be shown to a prospective purchaser if it is together with its biological mother.” However, the only way to prove that would be to undertake a DNA test and wait for the results. How that could occur in practice and who would pay for it remains to be seen. Licensed breeders “must implement and be able to demonstrate use of a documented socialisation and habituation programme for the puppies” which means that potential owners can request to see it.
There are two major provisions of the breeding section of the regulations that could have an explosive impact if fully enacted. The prohibition on mating any bitch that has had two litters delivered by caesarean section could severely limit the number of dogs bred that are unable to give birth naturally, although again, it is not easy to see how it will be policed.
But the one section that made me really sit up and take notice is this:
“No dog may be kept for breeding if it can reasonably be expected, on the basis of its genotype, phenotype or state of health that breeding from it could have a detrimental effect on its health or welfare or the health or welfare of its offspring.”
That may well be the golden key to preventing the horrors that have been perpetuated for far too long on brachycephalic and achondroplastic dogs. We can only hope.
In the end, as with all legislation, it remains to be seen what resources are put into policing it.