Call to redraft proposed crackdown on bad dog breeders

Dog lovers are calling for a rethink of proposals to crack down on bad practices at puppy farms.

They say people breeding dogs as a hobby could also be caught by the new regulations, which include compulsory microchips for dogs.

A petition calling for the Welsh Assembly Government to reopen a consultation on the plans has been handed in at the Senedd.

The assembly government said it was looking at responses to its proposals.

Opponents fear the regulations could mean small-scale breeders with just a few dogs would also require licenses and face checks.

Colin Richardson, who shows Skye terriers with his wife Lynne and daughter Sarah, said he supported a tougher stance towards unscrupulous breeders, but said he was worried the new regulations would not work.

Mr Richardson, 64, of Bridgend, said: "There's a great worry that this is going to be a bureaucratic nightmare.

"The target, which is the commercial breeders that are using malpractice, are going to be missed.

"The workload of the enforcement officers is going to go up because they have got more people to inspect."

He added: "We are not against any law that restricts the activities of unscrupulous dog breeders.

"There are so many anomalies and holes in this piece of legislation we are seriously worried.

"At the moment there's existing legislation that isn't being implemented."

The new rules would mean one person must be in charge of no more than 20 animals at licensed breeding premises. Breeders would have to microchip their dogs so buyers can identify where they have come from.

A consultation on the regulations, which would replace the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973, closed last week.

More than 800 people have signed a petition calling for the consultation to be reopened.

It says the drafting of the proposals showed "a fundamental ignorance of the position of hobby breeders in Wales, many of whom have international reputations as breeders of sound healthy dogs that are fit for function".

Bad practice

"All hobby breeders welcome any method to clamp down on unscrupulous puppy farmers.

"It is our contention that adding more legislation to that which is already there and not effectively enforced, is counter-productive in the efforts to curtail the activities of unlicensed puppy farmers and their reprehensible practices."

An assembly government spokeswoman said: "The consultation on the proposed Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2011 closed on 13 January.

"There will now be a full analysis of the responses received and until this has been completed we are unable to comment on this petition."

Launching the proposals last October, Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said they were based on reports from west Wales councils suggesting some breeders kept animals in poor conditions.

"We want clear guidance given to local authorities on what licensing should be about so when they come across bad practice and non-conforming with requirements, they are easily able to take prosecutions to stamp out bad practice," she said at the time.

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