As many canine professionals anticipate a spate of abandoned “lockdown” animals with schools, colleges and workplaces re-opening, news from Europe heralds new legislation in an attempt to improve welfare.
Germany is introducing a bill that, if passed would be implemented on a state-wide basis including the following provisions:
- Dogs must be walked twice a day for a minimum of one hour in total
- Dogs must not be chained for long periods of time
- Dogs must not be left alone for an entire day
- Breeders will be restricted to a maximum of three litters at any given time
- Puppies will have to spend a minimum of four hours a day in human company
- Ear and tail docking will be prohibited for show dogs
- Show dogs must display “species appropriate” behaviour.
All very admirable, but the agriculture ministry has already stated that it is very unlikely that individual dog owners will be policed and that an emphasis will be placed on welfare in kennels. Even if Germany puts considerably more resources into this legislation once passed than we have in the UK with similar legislation, it seems unlikely to make substantial difference.
Meanwhile, France is also anticipating a worsening of the situation that sees between 100,000 and 200,000 companion animals being abandoned annually. 60% of abandonments happen during summer holidays. In the last annual Dogs Trust Stray survey, 69,621 stray dogs were handled by local authorities in the UK, an increase of 13,578 on the previous year.
Toulouse MP Corinne Vignon has introduced a bill in he French parliament aiming to make it harder to buy companion animals and to facilitate tracing owners who mistreat or abandon them. It includes provision making identification mandatory an raise the minimum age limit for purchase
The bill would introduce compulsory tagging, as well as raise the minimum age limit of buyers. The bill has cross-party support and is expected to be passed before the endow the year.
France has clearer legislation than the UK when it comes to breeding and selling dogs. All matings have to be declared, with dogs either registered as pedigrees with the French KC or as “types”. It is possible to register a pedigree dog after puppyhood with confirmation from an expert judge and proof of testing for heritable diseases and sociability, behaviour or aptitude. However, breed registers have been closed for several breeds, including the following since 1978: German and Belgian shepherds, Dobermann pinschers, boxers, fox terriers, dachshunds, springer, cocker and American spaniels and poodles.
It remains to be seen if legislation in either country will stem the tide of back street breeders, puppy farms and illegal imports and sales. For the sake of dogs everywhere, let us hope that a solution is found soon.