Puppy farms: Dogs Trust welfare call ahead of new rules

A dog charity is urging the Welsh government to put welfare first as it prepares new rules to tackle bad breeding practices in puppy farms.

The Dogs Trust wants to limit the number of litters a dog can have annually and the number of breeding bitches in an owner's care.

Following consultation the Welsh government will be making a decision on the next step shortly.

It said it was committed to raising standards of animal welfare.

Breeding regulations are one of three separate pieces of planned legislation. Compulsory microchipping is out to public consultation, which ends next month.

New rules over dangerous dogs are also planned, but consultation has not started.

The Dogs Trust said it had worked closely with the Welsh government over the breeding regulations and was part of a working group. Public consultation ended in May.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show in Powys, Sian Edwards, the campaign manager for the Dogs Trust in Wales, said the Welsh government was expected to announce its proposals for dog breeding regulations any day.

"There are some good breeders out there, but the new regulations need to have tight controls to stop the commercial ventures," she said.

"Some puppies from these ventures are sold by dealers who distribute them to pet shops, which can lead to sick and poorly socialised dogs.

"Compulsory microchipping will help improve traceability and will help with enforcement."

She added: "I'd like to see controls over breeding bitches and the amount of litters they produce every year.

"I think there should be no more than three breeding bitches in an owner's care and they should have no more than three litters a year, otherwise it's going into puppy farm territory."

'Unscrupulous dog breeders'

The Welsh government aims to stop "puppy farms", where dogs may be kept in cramped conditions with little concern for their needs.

Ministers plan to introduce a staff-to-dog ratio where a full-time member of staff can care for up to 30 dogs, but opponents say the figure is too high.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: "We are committed to raising standards of animal welfare.

"As part of that agenda we are determined to deal with unscrupulous dog breeders who tarnish the reputation of those breeders operating in a responsible and proper manner.

"We have recently consulted on draft regulations which will help us to ensure exemplary standards of welfare for dogs in Wales. We are currently considering the responses to that consultation and will be making a decision on next steps shortly."

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