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The Animal Welfare Act
Reform of the animal welfare act. Use this link to read our letter to DEFRA and use the link on the twitter feed to the right to go to the site where you can help to make a huge difference to the dogs in the UK

Submitted by Barbara Sykes MCFBA MBIPDT

The Welfare Act lets down a large number of dogs as shown by the large number of dogs in rescue that have been abused, abandoned and then turned out by their owners. The majority of dogs in rescue are ex pet dogs.

The issue is largely caused by people being able to have a pet dog with no references, there being no registration process and being able to get one for free or very cheaply from a free ad. The Welfare Act does nothing to prevent this and but has a legal obligation that it puts on owners and keepers of animals to care for them properly. It automatically sets itself up for failure, as there is no way of recording every pet owner currently.

It would be good to have all dogs registered on a one off registration form/log which will log the birth, change of ownership and any misdemeanour that calls for the owners of the dog to be answerable to police, insurance companies etc., e.g. causing an accident, livestock worrying, aggression to person or other dog, regular straying. All puppies to be registered before 8 weeks of age to the breeder and at the breeders expense in addition to compulsory microchipping.

All dogs will be traceable back to their breeders which will make breeders more careful with their breeding policy and with future sales of puppies. Anyone purchasing a dog other than a puppy will be able to trace its history and will be breaking the law by purchasing a dog without a certificate or registration.

At this moment in time anyone can buy, sell, breed, abuse, neglect, discard a dog and there is no protection for them. The RSPCA steps in if neglect or cruelty can be proven and the dog wardens step in to collect stray dogs and whilst it is so easy to acquire a dog the matter will get worse. The rescue situation in the UK is dire and is proven by the number of rescue kennels that are overflowing. When dogs are advertised on free ad media it's open to the fighting fraternity to take dogs and abuse them and to people, who rescues and breeders may have refused a dog to on the grounds of work commitment etc, to take a dog and then move it on again when they get 'tired' of the dog. Being pregnant, having a cold, feeling stressed are not reasons to put a dog in a dog pound but sadly it's what happens.

But there are also responsible dog owners who have done their research and sought a professional to help them to train their dog, the methods are disturbing from water squirters to gadgets, to muzzling a dog and letting another one bully it! How does a responsible dog owner know where to go when people all claim to be the best and with so many training organizations where should a new owner go? To have a dog one should be registered with a vet, and an insurance company and be able to take a test (a standard one not one that varies from organization to organization) that makes the owner aware of the commitment and responsibility in having a dog in their lives and to understand basic simple rules so the dog gets off to a good start.

Owning a dog was a privilege and not something to be taken lightly but with massive media exposure and marketing owning a dog has become a business of breeding buying and selling which has left new owners confused, responsible owners distraught and irresponsible owners able to dump their dogs and their responsibility.

The Welfare Act does not address the issue that there is no governing body attending solely to the welfare and future of dogs in the UK. There is an overflow of training bodies, rescues, behaviourists and official large bodies but all are concerned with only their own field, eg rescue, or training, or breeding or cruelty. Research proves that organisations large and small have books, leaflets, pamphlets, downloads, for advice on finding, buying and training puppies and older dogs, a lot of which is conflicting. Despite the fact that they are available we have rescues teaming with unwanted and problem dogs and many confused dog owners who have been subjected to a variety of different training methods. There are no restrictions in place to control breeding causing an overflow of puppies, resulting in supply exceeding demand and producing an element of discarding dogs that are a problem as there are many more to choose from. Hence we have overflowing rescues and pounds and healthy dogs, both young and old, being put to sleep.

To own anything with wheels and an engine one is answerable to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). To own any agricultural animal one is answerable to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Horses have to have a passport (a document used for identification and ownership). Whilst Defra does have information regarding dogs it is very limited and considering the number of dogs in the UK it surely warrants a dedicated department. Dogs have nothing and no 'body' defending them and their future. There are a lot of organisations with an 'interest' in dogs but each one is only interested in its own speciality e.g. rescue, training, breeding. A governing body will not be easy to set up but neither is it impossible and the existing organisations will already have the software and systems. What we are calling for is one independent body that will work solely for the benefit of dogs. One immediate advantage would be that once set up anyone buying a new dog would be able to contact that body and find out all the legal requirements before purchasing.


Whilst compulsory microchipping will help responsible owners find their dogs it won't stop the problem of the number of unwanted or abused dogs. A dog license means a person with more than one dog pays for more than one license but may not be fit to have a dog. A license to have a dog means one license to purchase and any act that brings that owner's behaviour to their dog into question could risk having their license taken from them. Anyone without a license shouldn't have a dog. The licenses would be obtained from a Vet or someone with authority to issue a set standard test, one for new owners and one for a refresher.

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