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RECOMMENDATIONS OF WORKING GROUP TO REVIEW THE MANAGEMENT OF DOG

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RECOMMENDATIONS OF WORKING GROUP TO REVIEW THE MANAGEMENT OF DOG

    FINAL VERSION

RECOMMENDATIONS OF WORKING

    GROUP TO REVIEW THE MANAGEMENT

    OF DOG BREEDING ESTABLISHMENTS

    August 2005

    Introduction

1. A Working Group to review the management of dog breeding establishments

    nationally was appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and

    Local Government on 24th September, 2004. The Group was established in

    response to a number of cases of mistreatment of dogs on so called „puppy

    farms‟.

Composition of Working Group

    2. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government appointed

    Mr. Finbarr Heslin, a veterinary surgeon, as Chairman of the Working Group.

    In order to obtain a broad range of views on the issue, the Working Group

    comprised representatives from the following bodies; The Veterinary Council

    of Ireland, Veterinary Ireland, The Irish Greyhound Board, An Garda

    Siochana, local authorities, The Irish Kennel Club, The Dog Breeders

    Association of Ireland, The National German Shepherd Working Dog

    Association, The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the

    Departments of Agriculture and Food and Environment, Heritage and Local

    Government. A list of the individual Working Group members is attached in

    Appendix 1.

    Terms of Reference

    3. The terms of reference of the group were “to examine the current position

    regarding management of kennels and to make recommendations for such

    improvements, including better regulation, as it considers necessary in this

    area”. The Minister should note that the Working Group discussions also

    extended to issues outside the Group‟s terms of reference. The Group

    recognised this and confined their recommendations to the terms of reference.

    The Minister may wish to note the other issues raised by the Working Group,

    which are summarised in Appendix 4.

    Meetings of the Working Group 4. The Working Group has met four times between October 2004 and March ndthst2005. The meeting dates were 22 October 2004, 26 November 2004, 21 thJanuary 2005 and 4 March 2005.

    Consultation Process

    5. Interested members of the public were invited to make submissions, within the

    terms of reference, to the Group by 15th October 2004, by way of a notice in ththe national press on 4 October 2004. Submissions were received from 27

    groups and individuals (see Appendix 2) and these submissions were

    considered by the members of the Working Group.

6. Oral submissions in relation to the UK experience of „puppy farming‟ were

    provided to the Group by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to thAnimals (RSPCA) and The Dogs‟ Trust on 26 November 2004. The RSPCA threpresentative also attended the Working Group meeting on 4 March in an

    advisory role.

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    Summary of Recommendations

While the discussions of the Group were wide ranging, we have confined our

    recommendations to matters falling within the terms of reference of the Working

    Group, as requested by the Minister. The Working Group makes the following

    recommendations to the Minister. The basis of these recommendations are detailed in

    the main body of the report.

1. Basis for Regulation of Dog Breeding Establishments

    The Group recommends that a State regulated registration system for dog

    breeding establishments be put in place. The Group recommends that the Minister

    for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government should make regulations

    under Section 19 of the Control of Dogs Act 1986 (as inserted by Section 8 of the

    Control of Dogs (Amendment) Act, 1992) to regulate dog breeding establishments.

    These regulations should be enforced through the existing local authority dog

    control structures. The regulations should include a comprehensive set of

    statutorily enforceable standards for the operation of dog breeding establishments

    and provision for inspections by local authority officers.

2. Basis for defining Dog Breeding Establishments

    The Group recommends that dog breeding establishments be defined based on the

    number of female dogs with breeding potential present on the premises. Therefore,

    a dog breeding establishment would be defined as “a premises containing more

    than 5 female dogs, aged over 4 months, with breeding potential”.

    3. Funding of Regulatory System

    The Group recommends that the new regulatory regime be self-financing and be

    funded by varying the existing General Dog Licence Fee, for the keeping of an

    unspecified number of dogs, into two categories on the basis of different classes of

    dogs i.e. dogs kept in breeding establishments and all other dogs. The General

    Licence Fee for the first class of dog i.e. dogs kept in breeding establishments

    should be increased to fund the new regulatory regime.

    4. Permanent Identification

    The Group recommends that all dogs kept in breeding establishments, including

    their offspring, be electronically micro-chipped to ensure traceability and assist

    the enforcement of the registration system. The Group also recommended that

    greyhounds be exempted, where they have already met the Irish Greyhound

    Board‟s identification requirements.

    5. Transportation /Export of dogs

    The Group recommends the implementation by the Department of Agriculture and

    Food of regulations for the transportation of consignments of dogs within the State.

    The Group also recommends the implementation of regulations for the export of

    consignments of dogs to other jurisdictions including the UK. In implementing

    these regulations, transportation standards should be specified including minimum

    space requirements, ventilation, route plans, journey durations, feeding and

    watering intervals. The individual transportation of domestic family pets should

    continue to be exempted in the implementation of these regulations. These

    measures are particularly necessary to regulate dealers, who purchase dogs in bulk

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    and transport them for sale elsewhere. As matters relating to the transportation and

    export of dogs lie within the statutory remit of the Minister for Agriculture and

    Food, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government may

    wish to consult with the Minister for Agriculture and Food in formulating a

    response to this Recommendation.

6. Agreement on Duty of Care

    The Group recommends that every dog owner and every dog breeder has a “Duty

    of Care” in respect of animals kept by them and that this should be enshrined in all

    animal welfare legislation.

7. Lead In Time

    The Group recommends that the new Dog Breeding Registration system be

    introduced on a phased basis using an improvement notice model to avoid the

    creation of a surplus of dogs caused by the closure of substandard dog breeding

    establishments. This lead in time would allow dog breeding establishments to

    meet the necessary standards and avoid the problem of having to dispose of a

    number of unwanted dogs. Any premises, where Inspectors encounter serious

    animal welfare issues or have no reasonable prospect of meeting the registration

    standards should, however, be closed immediately. There should also be ongoing

    co-operation between all interested group to try and avoid a welfare issue caused

    by surplus dogs.

    Conclusion The Working Group do not claim that the above recommendations provide a perfect

    solution to the regulation of dog breeding in Ireland. However, we believe that the

    implementation and enforcement of these practical measures can quickly and

    effectively address „puppy farm‟ abuses in Ireland. Our Recommendations are

    submitted to the Minister for his consideration.

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    Basis for Regulation of the Dog Breeding Industry in Ireland

    Introduction The Working Group agreed that there is clearly a need for enforceable standards in

    the dog breeding industry in Ireland. Although there are no figures currently available

    for the number of dog breeding establishments in Ireland, the Working Group agreed

    that there is clear evidence that a number of these enterprises are operating in a sub-

    standard manner with serious consequences for the welfare of dogs kept in these

    establishments.

Industry Self Regulation / Statutory Regulation

    The Working Group considered the option of proposing self-regulation for the dog

    breeding industry. It concluded that while many reputable dog breeders would

    voluntarily observe such industry self-regulation, there would be a minority of

    operators, who would ignore such structures. It was agreed that State regulated

    registration system would be more appropriate for regulating dog breeding

    establishments.

    UK Experience The Working Group received oral submissions from the Dogs‟ Trust and the Royal

    Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) including briefing in

    relation to the UK experience of regulating dog breeding establishments. Legislation

    in the UK has evolved over a thirty year period and has been relatively successful in

    addressing abuses within the system. There are still, however, outstanding legislative

    issues that need to be addressed in an upcoming Animal Welfare Bill. The Working

    Group were advised that any new Irish regulations would need to be specific,

    enforceable and not open to interpretation as there is currently a significant difference

    in the enforcement regimes in different UK local authority areas depending on the

    individual licensing officer.

Primary Legislation / Regulation

    There was a general consensus amongst the Working Group of the need for urgent

    statutory changes to deal with the problem of substandard dog breeding

    establishments. There was a preference amongst the Group for taking a „clean sheet‟

    approach by recommending the introduction of new primary legislation. It was,

    however, recognised that the time period between the drafting of new legislation and

    eventual enactment would be too long to address an immediate problem.

It was, alternatively, agreed that, in the interim, use be made of existing provisions

    under Section 19 of the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 (as inserted by Section 8 of the

    Control of Dogs (Amendment) Act, 1992) to make regulations for Dog Breeding

    Establishments. A copy of relevant sections is attached in Appendix 3. These

    regulations would be enforced through the existing local authority dog control

    structures. While the Group agreed that this solution is not ideal i.e. as the regulations

    can only be applied to premises containing more than 5 dogs over 4 months, it was

    accepted that such regulations could be introduced relatively quickly to address the

    worst „puppy farm‟ abuses.

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Standards for operation of Dog Breeding Establishments

    It was agreed that the registration system for Dog Breeding Establishments should require licensed operators to observe the following standards, which will be legally enforceable;

    (i) that dogs will at all times be kept in accommodation suitable as regards construction, size of quarters, number of occupants, exercising facilities, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness;

    (ii) that dogs will be adequately supplied with suitable food, drink and bedding material, adequately exercised, and visited at suitable intervals;

    (iii)that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread among the dogs of infectious or contagious diseases;

    (iv) that appropriate steps will be taken for the protection of the dogs in case of fire or other emergency;

    (v) that all appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that the dogs will be provided with suitable food, drink, and bedding material and adequately exercised when being transported to or from the breeding establishment;

(vi) that female dogs are not mated if they are less than one year old;

    (vii) that female dogs do not give birth to more than six litters of puppies each;

    (viii) that female dogs do not give birth to puppies before the end of the period of 12 months beginning on the day on which they last gave birth to puppies;

    (ix) that accurate records in a form prescribed by regulations are kept at the premises and made available for inspection there by any officer of the authority, or any authorised veterinary surgeon/practitioner authorised to inspect the premises; and

    (x) that numerical limits may be placed on the number of dogs kept in a premises consistent with the facilities available.

Procedure for licensing Dog Breeding Establishments

    On receipt of an application for the registration of a dog breeding establishment, the relevant local authority should arrange for the inspection of the premises by an authorised veterinary surgeon or by an authorized officer of the authority before determining whether or not to grant a licence.

Guidance Documentation for Local Authority Inspectors

    The Working Group believes that it is important that a consistent standard is applied across all local authorities when enforcing the registration requirements. It is also vital that the above standards are clearly defined in the regulations. The above standards should be incorporated into a comprehensive guidance booklet to assist authorised officers when inspecting premises. This guidance booklet should be reviewed at least

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every ten years. Standard licensing templates should be provided to all local

    authorities in compliance with the regulations.

Recommendation

    The Group recommends that a State regulated registration system for dog breeding

    establishments be put in place. The Group recommends that the Minister for the

    Environment, Heritage and Local Government should make regulations under Section

    19 of the Control of Dogs Act 1986 (as inserted by Section 8 of the Control of Dogs

    (Amendment) Act, 1992) to regulate dog breeding establishments. These regulations

    should be enforced through the existing local authority dog control structures. The

    regulations should include a comprehensive set of statutorily enforceable standards

    for the operation of dog breeding establishments and provision for inspections by

    local authority officers.

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    Basis for defining Dog Breeding Establishments

Having regard to the UK experience, the Working Group agreed that the legal

    definition of Dog Breeding Establishments must be clear and unambiguous to ensure

    that regulations were enforceable. It was agreed that the number of litters produced on

    a premises would not provide a suitable basis for defining breeding establishments as

    constant supervision would be required to ensure compliance. It was felt that a

    definition based on the number of female dogs with breeding potential i.e. un-

    neutered female dogs, aged over 4 months, present on a premises would be a more

    practically enforceable approach.

It was recognised that such a definition could bring certain non-commercial breeding

    establishments and some non-breeding establishments containing a certain number of

    female dogs with breeding potential within the terms of the proposed regulatory

    system. The possibility of making a distinction between commercial and non-

    commercial breeding establishments was discussed but the Working Group felt that

    such a distinction would be too difficult to enforce.

The Minister may, at his discretion, wish to exempt certain establishments such as

    charity and welfare based dog shelters, boarding and hunt kennels from the terms of

    the proposed regulatory system. However, the Working Group decided to make no

    recommendation in this regard in view of the enforceability issues that could be raised.

    Recommendation The Group recommends that dog breeding establishments be defined based on the

    number of female dogs with breeding potential present on the premises. Therefore, a

    dog-breeding establishment would be defined as “a premises containing more than 5 female dogs, aged over 4 months, with breeding potential”.

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    Funding of Registration System

The Working Group recognised that local authorities will require additional

    resources in order to fund the operation of the proposed regulatory regime and that

    the proposed registration system will need to be self-financing. It was proposed

    that the existing general dog licence fee, for the keeping of an unspecified number

    of dogs on a premises, be increased under Section 8(2) of the Control of Dogs Act

    (as inserted by Section 4 of the Control of Dogs (Amendment) Act, 1992) for that

    purpose.

It was recognised, however, that such an increase in the general dog license fee

    would also impact on premises falling outside the definition of dog breeding

    establishments e.g. premises only containing dogs with no breeding potential i.e.

    male dogs and neutered female dogs. It was proposed, therefore, that such

    premises be exempted from paying a higher general dog licence fee.

There is provision under Section 8(2) of the Control of Dogs Act 1986 (as inserted

    by Section 4 of the Control of Dogs (Amendment) Act, 1992) for the specification

    of different rates of general licence fee for different classes of dogs. It was

    proposed, therefore, that regulations be made under Section 8(2) of the Act for

    dogs to be classified into dogs kept in breeding establishments and all other

    dogs and that different general dog licence fee rates be set for each classification.

    A higher general dog licence fee will be required for dogs kept in breeding

    establishments.

It was recognised that some dog breeders may legally seek to avoid having to

    purchase the general dog licence for „dogs kept in breeding establishments‟ by

    alternatively buying individual dog licences for each dog on their premises.

    Therefore, the purchase of a general dog licence for dogs kept in breeding

    establishments should be a mandatory registration requirement for dog breeding establishments under Section 19(2)(b)(ii) of the Control of Dogs Act 1986 (as

    inserted by Section 8 of the Control of Dogs (Amendment) Act, 1992).

    Recommendation The Group recommends that the new regulatory regime be self-financing and be

    funded by varying the existing General Dog Licence Fee, for the keeping of an

    unspecified number of dogs, into two categories on the basis of different classes of

    dogs i.e. dogs kept in breeding establishments and all other dogs. The General

    Licence Fee for the first class of dog i.e. dogs kept in breeding establishments

    should be increased to fund the new regulatory regime.

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    Issue of Permanent Identification

    It was generally agreed by the Working Group that it was necessary to introduce some form of permanent identification for dogs kept in dog breeding establishments. This would be a vital component for the enforcement of any registration system for dog breeding establishments. It would also provide a means of traceability for any puppies produced in these establishments.

Declaration of Personal Interest

    The Minister should note that the Chairman of the Working Group, Mr. Finbarr Heslin made a declaration of personal interest in relation to the permanent identification of dogs at the third meeting of the Group on 21 January 2005. The Chairman informed the Working Group that he had a beneficial interest in a private venture involving data recording systems for the micro-chipping of dogs, which long preceded the decision to establish the Working Group. He said that he had accepted the Chairmanship of the Working Group in good faith as neither the issue of the permanent identification of dogs nor micro-chipping specifically were contained within the terms of reference for the Group. However, as it had become clear that there was a consensus within the Group that some system of permanent identification of dogs should be recommended to the Minister, the Chairman felt that it was necessary to declare his personal interest.

    The Chairman offered to resign from the Working Group to ensure that there was no perceived conflict of interest. The Group expressed full confidence in the Chairman and it was alternatively agreed that the Chairman would leave the room during all further discussions in relation to the permanent identification of dogs. The Chairman, therefore, had no involvement in the recommendation in relation to the permanent identification of dogs.

Micro-chipping requirement

    The Working Group agreed that the most effective means of permanent identification of dogs was the implantation of an electronic microchip into the animal. The dog‟s individual details could then be recorded on a database and its identity subsequently confirmed by scanning its microchip and verifying its details against the database. The Working Group agreed that there should be a requirement that all dogs, including pups, kept in breeding establishments be electronically micro-chipped to facilitate identification and traceability. It was agreed that the type of microchip to be used, the procedures for implantation and the operation of a database were a matter for the Minister to determine. The Group were generally in favour of introducing universal micro-chipping for all dogs but recognised that this was outside their terms of reference. The decision of the Irish Kennel Club to require compulsory micro-st chipping of all dogs, registered with them, from January 12006 was welcomed.

Exemption for Greyhounds

    It was agreed that whilst the system of tattooing used for racing greyhounds was not suitable for general use, it had been effectively employed by the Irish Greyhound Board to keep control of greyhound breeding and that, given the concerns expressed by those involved in the sport that electronic implanting may affect the racing performance, a derogation from implanting should be granted for racing greyhounds,

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