KENNEL Club chairman Steve Dean says he is ‘surprised and perturbed’ that puppy farming has been linked to the club’s registration system.
In his From the Chairman column in the Kennel Gazette, he said the KC was determined to ensure that it did not register puppy-farmed puppies, but that the accusation that it did had been made often enough to deserve ‘comment and investigation’.
He promised that the KC would examine its registration system with the ‘primary focus of ridding the country of irresponsible breeders’, but said that if those breeders were operating within the law and had a licence, the KC would need very good reasons to refuse registration.
The primary challenge lay in defining a puppy farmer, he said; it could not be simply those breeding the most litters. Those breeding and registering five or more litters per year – amounting to 2.7 per cent of those registering litters – have to provide the KC with a copy of their breeder’s licence, he said, and that it was ‘highly probable’ the majority of these breeders would not meet the definition of a puppy farmer.
"Identifying the few that might will require breed clubs to play a part,” he said. "It is unlikely the KC alone will have the resources to satisfactorily monitor, sift and investigate registrations across all breeds without their input.
"If there are true puppy farmers registering litters with the KC we need assistance to gather the evidence before any action can be considered.”
Prof Dean – who at one of the recent eye conformation seminars said the KC would never knowingly register puppies bred by puppy farmers – said local authorities dealt with complaints about breeders and that the KC provided registration information about licensed breeders involved in court cases. This could not happen if the KC refused these breeders registration.
"If someone is convicted of animal cruelty, or a similar offence, then the KC can take action to stop them from registering in the future,” he said.
‘Puppy farmer’ was a derogatory term, he went on, and there could be legal consequences if without due cause anyone was ‘tarred with this particular brush’.
"The KC is determined to act against unscrupulous breeding within the UK and seeks to ensure all dogs are bred responsibly and raised in conditions that foster good health and welfare,” Prof Dean wrote. "It is therefore surprising and perturbing to hear puppy farming being linked to our own pedigree dog registration system.
"Such opinions are off target in my view – as we are determined to ensure that we do not register puppies from puppy farmers – and risk deflecting attention away from the more significant group of irresponsible breeders who breed puppies outside the KC registration system.
"From the breed perspective it can seem an easy problem to recognise. Most breeds know of someone who registers relatively large numbers of litters. It is a small step to assume their husbandry and attention to health and welfare must be poor, quickly followed by the assumption that the interest is financial gain rather than the quality of the dogs produced. Even where there is strong anecdotal evidence there is often a gulf between opinion and proof. The primary challenge lies in defining a puppy farmer. It cannot simply be those who breed the most litters.
"Some have suggested the definition should embrace those who do not exhibit their dogs. Yet, is it wrong for somebody to breed dogs of good health and reasonable type, principally for the pet owner, yet have no interest in competition?”
There was ‘a public desire’ for purebred dogs, mostly as family pets, he said, but the hobby breeder was unlikely to satisfy the demand and there would remain a cadre of large kennels breeding purebred dogs.
"So the KC has some serious thinking to do as we go forward with our promise to examine the registration system and continue our strategy to rid the country of irresponsible dog breeders,” he wrote. "For the latter, a primary focus has to aim to remove all disreputable, commercial puppy farming enterprises from the UK.
"Any that remain must be able to demonstrate they rear dogs to high standards of health and welfare and breed puppies with care and responsibility. This leaves the question – should they be part of our breed register and if not what reasons can be justly put forward for excluding them? If a breeder is operating within the law and has a local authority breeder’s licence, we would need a very good reason to refuse registration.”
Agree with comment above about 5 litters plus ! The KC also need to address - if it hasn't already done so - the fraudulent use of their registration documentation for registration of litters. Registration/microchipping should incur a requirement to notify the death of a dog. Anyone following/keeping a record of a breed's registrations in the Breed Register will have noted/known the likely "puppy farmers" over time. Even easier to pick them up on a computer registration system such as the KC has and put warning tags up on questionnable registrations for further investigation.
Surely anyone registering more than five litters a year is a PUPPY FARMER whether they show or not.
This is about time. Get those that exhibit on a different register, then the healthy non in bred puppies can be on the proper register. Health MUST take priority over a show win every time. In breeding and line breeding MUST STOP NOW.