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ISPCA statement on newly revised Dog Breeding Establishments Guidelines

9 JULY 2018

The ISPCA gives a cautious welcome to the new Dog Breeding Establishments Guidelines that have been published today by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Sean Kyne.  

The ISPCA was actively involved throughout the review process and was a member of the working group that developed the original draft that went out to public consultation last year and made a detailed and evidence-based submission to the consultation.

We are pleased to see that ambiguous language such as ‘should’ has been removed and replaced with ‘must,’ which puts an obligation on the breeder to act. We are also pleased to see the extensive additions to the guidelines around socialisation, exercise, husbandry and record keeping, which we believe strengthen the document.

We are disappointed however, that the ratio of animal carers to animals has been set at 1:25. The ISPCA does not believe it is possible to deliver the socialisation programme included in the Guidelines with that level of staffing, and we strongly call on the Minister to rethink the ratio and reduce it to no more than 1:20. The ISPCA operates with a ratio of 1:10, which is challenging enough and we do not believe dog breeders can ensure the welfare of dogs with a 1:25 ratio. This ratio could potentially lead to over 100 bitches and puppies in the care of one person.

We note that no cap on the number of breeding bitches has been introduced. We understand that this was not possible under the Guidelines, but would instead require a change in the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010. We now call on the Minister to review this legislation without further delay. In the absence of a cap, the numbers of dogs allowed should be driven by welfare outcomes, available facilities, and the number of staff available to care for the animals.

In addition to consideration of a cap on numbers, we are calling for the definition of a Dog Breeding Establishment to be amended so that the number of breeding bitches is reduced from six to three. The ISPCA also believes that it is imperative that further offences under the Dog Breeding Establishments Act be introduced, including failing to comply with the conditions of the operator’s license and failing to comply with an improvement notice issued by the local authority.

The ISPCA hopes that the new Guidelines will be a useful tool for local authority veterinary inspectors who are tasked with inspecting dog breeding establishments, to ensure that welfare of the dogs including the breeding and non-breeding bitches, male dogs and of course puppies will be better protected than previously. However, the Guidelines must be applied robustly to existing as well as new license applicants.

 

A revised copy of the guidelines, with changes from previous guidelines highlighted, is available here

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