Joyce welcomes steps to drive up puppy farm welfare standards in Wales

Animal welfare campaigner and Assembly member Joyce Watson has welcomed Welsh Government action to improve care at puppy farms.

The Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group yesterday published a review of the existing rules around breeding dogs. Its recommendations include a need for:

• Greater consistency in the inspection and enforcement of breeding regulations
• A review of the licensing process, including application of a staff to adult dog ratio appropriate to the breeding premises
• The need for better welfare standards for all breeding dogs rather than only those at licensed premises

The review also supports the ban of third party sales of dogs – the Minister has committed to legislating on this before May 2021.

Mrs Watson welcomed the report and called for a block on licensing new puppy farms while the government implements improvements.

The Labour AM for Mid and West Wales has campaigned for more staff to look after dogs and for the maximum number of dogs in any breeding establishment to be reduced. She said:

“I am delighted the Welsh Government has pledged to improve the conditions at puppy farms. It’s clear the current regulations and enforcement regime too often allows cruelty to go unchecked.

“Increasing the 1:20 staff-to-dog ratio and limiting the number of dogs per puppy farm must be the priority. How can one worker care properly for 20 adults and their litters? With the best will in the world, how can that worker spot every health issue and prepare those puppies for family life?”
To deliver improvements and consistency in the inspection and enforcement of the breeding regulations, which is undertaken by Local Authorities, a scoping project has been set up to determine what additional resource is needed.
Once completed, funding for a three year pilot scheme will be provided. This will enable expertise to be built through specialist training and upskilling of dedicated Local Authority staff.
The review also supports the ban of third party sales of dogs and the Minister has committed to legislating on this issue before the end of this Senedd.
Minister Lesley Griffiths said:
“We all want to see the highest welfare standards for animals in Wales. Part of this is to drive up the welfare standards for dogs at breeding premises.
“I would like to thank the Animal Health and Welfare Group for reacting so quickly and producing their comprehensive report. Some of the recommendations can be delivered through existing legislation and I’m keen to see these progress as a matter of urgency before proposing amendments to the current Breeding Regulations.
“The combination of new regulations on pet sales and dedicated funding for enforcement and delivery of the Breeding Regulations, will result in lasting improvements to the welfare standards of puppies bred in Wales.”