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Consultation on new dog breeding measures launched

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has today launched a consultation on new measures for dog breeding establishments.
Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The consultation is in respect of a new piece of subordinate legislation under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011.

The Minister said: “The purpose of these proposals is to improve the welfare of dogs in breeding establishments. The current Regulations are almost 30 years old and are no longer fit for purpose as acceptable standards of animal welfare have greatly increased over that time. There have also been a number of high profile cases in recent years where puppies were being bred in appalling conditions.

“The aim of these draft Regulations is to raise the standard for breeding establishments and enhance the conditions for dogs and puppies within those premises.”

The Minister added: “I fully accept that dog breeding is a legitimate business and I do not want to introduce unnecessary and potentially onerous requirements for breeders, however the welfare needs of the pups and their dam and sire are of paramount importance.

“These Regulations set out the standards which all breeders must achieve and many of the proposals are supported by commercial dog breeders. Good breeders who are licensed to run a breeding establishment can use this to promote and market their pups. Substandard breeders will have to improve the conditions in their breeding establishment or they will not be licensed. ”

The Minister concluded: “ While these Regulations will go a long way in transforming dog breeding across the North, licensed breeders and the general public also have a key role to play in advising Councils of illegal dog breeding establishments.

“When someone is considering buying a pup they should insist on seeing the pup’s mother, and the father too if possible, and also the kennels in which the pups were born and reared. Good breeders should not refuse this request.”

The consultation will end on 10 January 2012 and copies of the consultation documents are available by visiting the consultation section of the DARD website

Notes to editors:

1. The current regulations on dog breeding establishments (i.e. the Dogs (Breeding Establishments and Guard Dog Kennels) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1983 (“the Regulations”) were made under The Dogs (NI) Order 1983 (“the Order”). The Order requires the owner of 3 or more unsterilized bitches, any of which is used for breeding, to register with the Council. The Regulations specify the information which must be supplied for the register and the construction and operating conditions under which the breeding establishment shall be operated.

2. These draft Regulations are coming forward under Section 12 of the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011 which contain provisions which enable the Department to make Regulations for the introduction of licensing or registration regimes in relation to activities involving animals, for which a person is responsible, for the purposes of securing the welfare of animals or the progeny of these animals. Under section 12(9) of the 2011 Act, the Department must consult such persons as appear to have a relevant interest before making Regulations.

3. The draft Regulations contains a range of proposals including the following:-

  • a requirement to apply and obtain a licence to run a breeding establishment, including the payment of a fee;
  • a new definition for a breeding establishment;
  • a requirement to microchip all dogs and pups;
  • conditions for a licence;
  • a control on the age and number of litters a bitch can breed;
  • the minimum age a pup can leave the breeder;
  • the need for records to be maintained by the breeding establishment;
  • written socialisation and enrichment programmes;
  • the new breeding establishment licence will replace the Block licence for a breeding establishment, and
  • an exemption for registered hunt clubs.

4. The consultation papers, draft Regulations, partial Regulatory Impact Assessment, equality screening document and draft Guidance for Enforcement Officers are on the Department’s website. Hard copies may be obtained directly from the Department by telephoning 028 9076 5850 or faxing 028 9052 4982.

5. For media enquiries please contact DARD Press Office 028 9052 4619 or Out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.