New 2018 Breeding Regulations
Following the high-profile Lucy’s law campaign which will put an end to third-party puppy sales, new guidelines regarding dog breeding in England, will come into effect from 1stOctober 2018.
Lower minimum litters
The main regulation change is to the number of litters a breeder can sell before requiring a breeding license. Previously, the number was five, but this has now been reduced so that any person breeding three or more litters per year for profit, will require a license. Anyone breeding less than three litters in a twelve-month period and selling them “without making a profit” will not be required to obtain a license.
The key element to the new regulations is ‘breeding for profit’. While a breeder producing three or more litters for profit will require a license, it also means that anyone breeding even one litter in a twelve-month period would require a license if it is believed they’re breeding and selling dogs for profit or as a business. Guidance will be provided by the Government to Local Authority Inspectors which will set out what is deemed as profit breeding. Part of this would include looking for high volumes of animals being advertised or sold, or low volumes with high sale prices.
The only way a breeder will be able to breed more than three litters per year without requiring a license, is “if the person carrying on the activity (breeding) provides documentary evidence that none of them have been sold (whether as puppies or as adult dogs)”.
These new regulations are similar to the existing business tests which have been in place since 1999 with the five-litter threshold, and DEFRA have confirmed that these regulations are not intended to ‘catch out’ hobby breeders.
Welfare of dogs and puppies
The regulations clearly set out the welfare standard expected of licensed breeders. These include adequate hygienic housing with room to exercise, provision for emergencies, thorough and detailed documentation from the breeder about the puppies, health checks and evidence that puppies have received appropriate socialisation into a home environment before being sold.
Star ratings for breeders
Part of the new regulations will include breeders being given star ratings based on welfare standards and how well breeders have met these standards in the past. These will identify and reward high performing breeders and enable authorities to monitor the lower star rated breeders more closely. Those with high welfare standards that have been maintained for at least three years, will receive a high star rating (ranging from 3 to 5 star). Those who breed to the minimum welfare standards and without breeding and compliance history, with receive a two-star rating and breeders with minor failings will receive a one-star rating.
Breeders with a high star rating will only be inspected every three years and will pay a lower license fee, while breeders with a higher risk and low star rating, will have more frequent inspections and pay a higher license fee.
Risk ratings for breeders
As well as star ratings, breeders will also be assessed for risk. Risk ratings will be based on compliance history, compiled from Local Authority Licensing or UKAS accredited schemes such as the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, and on the ability to demonstrate they have maintained acceptable standards for at least three years.
Any breeder who hasn’t been a member of a UKAS accredited scheme for at least three years or who haven’t before held a license for breeding, will automatically receive a high-risk rating and therefore will be more closely monitored, be inspected annually and will pay the higher licensing fee.
It’s also important to know that inspections for all breeders, both low and high risk, and 1 to 5 star rated breeders, will be unannounced.
These new regulations, along with the implementation of Lucy’s Law, will certainly help make puppy farms and inhumane mass breeding facilities a thing of the past, with much greater focus on animal welfare. While it’s essential any loopholes are closed, and that full training and practices are put into place to ensure the regulations are met, it’s a promising step in the right direction.