SUMMARY OF INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO DOG BREEDING
HEADED BY PROFESSOR PATRICK BATESON
The full report can be downloaded from http://www.dogbreedinginquiry.com/
The Inquiry was funded jointly by the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust, but was conducted entirely independently. Neither organisation had any hand in drafting the report, which was published on 14th January 2010.
Unlike the earlier Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) Inquiry, published in November 2009, which was limited to pedigree dogs, the Bateson Inquiry considered the breeding of all dogs, pedigree and cross-breed.
Unlike the APGAW Inquiry, Professor Bateson believes that government legislation is required, although he acknowledged that, in reality, this would not be possible in the immediate future.
He emphasised that there will need to be a concerted effort by all those involved in the health & welfare of dogs to bring about the necessary changes.
He recognised that the public is to blame as much as anyone else for the health & welfare problems we now face, as many have bought dogs without thinking, thereby providing a market for puppy farmers.
He stated that he does not believe dog shows should be abolished. Instead, they could be a tool to benefit the welfare of dogs by showcasing and rewarding all that is best in the breeding of sound and healthy dogs, and to provide a powerful influence for change.
He acknowledged that science shouldn't replace the expert knowledge and instinct of experienced breeders, but should be used alongside this in helping them to make the best breeding decisions. Importantly, he understood that breeding guidelines should be based upon scientific knowledge, and that any restrictions should be considered on a breed by breed basis, and not by introducing further blanket rules across all breeds.
A summary of the main recommendations of the Bateson Report is as follows:
1. An upgraded KC Accredited Breeder Scheme should be introduced urgently, requiring:
Permanent identification (i.e. microchipping or tattooing) before puppies are sold
Pre mating tests on both parents for inherited diseases (appropriate to each breed)
No mating to take place if test results indicate that such a mating would be inadvisable
Pre-sale health tests on puppies (appropriate to each breed)
Prospective purchasers to be able to view puppies for sale with their mother
KC ABS scheme to be officially accredited with the independent UK Accreditation Service (UKAS)
2. All puppies to be microchipped or tattooed before they are sold, irrespective of whether the breeder is a member of an Accredited Breeder Scheme.
3. Establishment of a non statutory independent Advisory Council on Dog Breeding, to develop breeding guidelines that address the issues of extreme conformation, inherited disease and inbreeding, on a breed specific basis, and to provide advice on the priorities for research and development in these areas. Advisory Council members would be selected on the basis of their personal expertise, not on the basis of any personal affiliation or membership of particular interest groups.
4. The Veterinary profession as a whole should lead a shift in emphasis to preventative medicine rather than simply the correction of problems after they have occurred.
5. High priority should be given to setting up a computer based system for the collection of anonymous diagnoses from veterinary surgeries in order to provide statistically significant data on the prevalence of diseases/disorders for each breed. Initially, priority should be given to collecting data on those conditions that create the greatest welfare problems in terms of pain, impact on quality of life, capacity for correction, and early age of onset.
6. Legislation should be brought in to introduce Regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 requiring:
All puppies to be permanently identified (microchip/tattoo or equivalent) prior to sale
Microchip/tattoo ID numbers to be recorded on the contract of sale, on all relevant health test certificates and registration documents, and on a central database
An obligation on any person breeding dogs to have regard to the health & welfare of both the parents and the offspring of the mating
Those drafting Breed Standards must take into account the need to avoid selection for extreme physical characteristics that can damage the health and welfare of the dog
The Dangerous Dogs Act should be amended to apply to all dogs who have been shown to be dangerous, rather than to specified breeds (i.e. "deed" not "breed") and should address the problem of dogs being bred and reared specifically as weapons or for fighting
7. DEFRA to implement a Statutory Code of Practice on the Breeding of Dogs under the Animal Health Act 2006, to include:
The health & welfare of the parent dogs
Appropriate screening & testing of the parents for breed specific disorders
Mating selections given due consideration to avoiding extremes of conformation that create welfare problems
Health & welfare and appropriate socialisation of litters of puppies
Mechanisms for the sale of puppies
8. A public awareness and education campaign to be designed by expert practitioners, in order to persuade the general public to change their behaviour in how to go about buying a puppy, what questions to ask, and what to look for when buying a dog. This to be supported and run by as many as possible of the dog and animal welfare organisations, jointly and in unison.
A full response from The Kennel Club can be found http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/2896/23/5/3