ABS members could be exempt from licensing


ABS members could be exempt from licensing

ABS members could be exempt from licensing despite mixed views in Government consultation.

THE GOVERNMENT is considering exempting members of the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS) from licensing requirements.

  A recent DEFRA consultation into the licensing of animal establishments in England asked whether businesses affiliated to a body accredited by UKAS – which the ABS is – should be exempted.

  Most people disagreed with the idea (42.5 per cent) and 31 per cent were in favour. However, the KC ran a campaign alongside DEFRA’s consultation asking members to submit responses, and the 151 generated boosted the percentage to 42. Respondents to DEFRA’s consultation thought the idea confusing, that breeders should be treated the same and that the proposal would lead to a two-tier system. And Dogs Trust said it was ‘extremely concerned’.

  “Alongside our concern for the welfare of the dogs involved, due to the lack of unannounced inspections, there is also a worrying grey area around the potential for these suggested changes to create a two-tier system of breeders that could potentially leave local authorities battling with a disproportionate number of poor breeders to licence,” a spokesman said. 

  “We strongly implore DEFRA to take these findings on board and reconsider the sensible suggestion by many respondents to instead include UKAS accreditation as a part of a risk-based licensing system.”

  This would mean that all breeders would fall under local authority licensing but UKAS accredited breeders could be inspected less often.

  “Crucially, local authorities would then retain the ability to bring sanctions against breeders who fail inspections, which Dogs Trust believes is vital to protecting the welfare of dogs,” the spokesman said.

  ABS head Bill Lambert told DOG WORLD: “We’ve been lobbying the Government since it announced a review into animal licensing. It makes complete sense that local authorities should not have to inspect breeders who have already been inspected under the KC’s own robust UKAS-accredited ABS, which sets standards far higher than those contained within current dog breeding legislation. 

  “We are very encouraged by the fact that the Government is giving this matter serious consideration and would urge all responsible breeders to get behind this idea which will hopefully free up local authorities so that they can direct their energy into going after sub-standard breeders.” 

  DEFRA also asked for views on the proposal to reduce the licensing threshold to three or more litters a year. Sixty-four per cent were in favour and 24 per cent against with others not having a view.

  The Dogs Trust spokesman said: “This woefully falls short of what’s needed to protect breeding dogs and their offspring.

  “We instead suggest that anyone breeding, selling or transferring the ownership of a dog or litter, regardless of any financial transaction or gain, should be required to be registered and anyone breeding, selling or transferring the ownership of more than one dog or one litter of puppies should be licensed.  

  “When coupled with a requirement for advertisements to list the registration or licence number of the seller, this would provide a much-needed way for anyone buying a dog to check the seller.”

See Comment page 8.