The legal controls on commercial dog breeding and its effects on puppy farming
The objective of this thesis was to find out more about puppy farming and how it is regulated. This study has shown me the far reaching effects that these farms have on the animals that come from them and the importance of regulation of this industry. Dog breeding is a large industry that can been seen in several areas of the world. The relationship between humans and dogs has been a long standing one throughout the millenia. Humans have had an influence on shaping the evolution of dogs and in the last century official dog breeds have come to prominance. With dog breeds have come dog shows and a soaring public interest in aquiring one of these very sought after animals. An off shoot of this has been the rise of “puppy farms” or commerical breeding establishments (CBEs) in recent times. In general these are situations of poor welfare for the animals and CBEs share some common characteristics. Dogs from these units typically have behavioural and physical problems. Stress, inadequate socialization, genetics and maternal adversity experienced in these farms have been shown to contributed to behavioural problems. Puppys from these farms are commonly encountered in Ireland. Legislation has been introduced in several countries to try to control this issue. As an unregulated industry animals were living in terrible conditions and been used as breeding machines. Legislation has been shown to have a positive effect on the welfare of animals, however, this success has been dependent on the level of implementation. It appears that not only does the legislation have to be precise in this matter but that its implementation is vital to success. In the US the Animal Welfare Act deals with animals that are bred by wholesale suppliers. It is up to each individual state to legislate for animals that are bred for sale as pets. From state to state there are varying levels of protection for dogs in these farms. A similar situation exists in Canada. In Europe there is currently no EU law on pet animal welfare. Rather there is a convention, the European Convention for the protection of Pet Animals (1987). This convention states the importance of breeding to avoid physical and behavioural problems. The keeping of animals is also discussed. This treaty has not been ratified in Ireland. Under Norwegian law animals are protected by the Animal Welfare Act. Although puppy farming is not a problem here the keeping conditions and breeding of animals are discussed. Britain has the oldest animal welfare laws in the world which dates from 1822. It has had several pieces of legislation to protect dogs from this horrible practice. Up until recently legislation was lacking in Ireland on this topic. The Dog Breeding Establishment Act was introduced in 2012 to regulate the industry which is estimated to have a value of €29 million. Ireland has had a severe problem with puppy farming and has become known as the “puppy farm capital of Europe”. Although the introduction of this act is a welcomed development it is the opinion of several veterinarians that it will not be successful for several reasons. Where laws are present it is regulated by the local authorities. There are difficulties in regulation and this is an industry that rejects regulation. Although legislation isimportant in the regulation of this industry it is education of the public that is seen as the best way to encourage responsible breeders. The awareness campaigns by several high profile welfare groups and veterinary organisations is a positive step in awareness of this issue. The compulsory microchipping of all dogs now in Ireland is also a very welcome step. I beleive that this will encourage responsible pet ownership and also breeders. Several recommendations can be made to future pet owners to help educate them so as not to buy a dog from one of these farms. In conclusion, public education is the key to future success and remedying of this deeply distrubing problem.