A year and a half after the BBC documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” revealed high levels of disability, deformity and disease in pedigree dogs left the United Kingdom’s Kennel Club reeling, an independent review of breed standards has been released. (Complete downloadable report available here. Read Club's reaction.) Known as the Bateson inquiry, for its author, Cambridge University professor Sir Patrick Bateson, the report was commissioned by the Club and Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity. Among its recommendations:
• Create an independent council to develop breeding strategies that address issues of inherited disease, extreme conformation and inbreeding.
• Change the law to include requirements for the compulsory microchipping of all puppies and a duty of care on all breeders to have regard to the health and welfare of both the parents and the offspring of a mating. (It always boggles my mind that any breeder has to be required to "have regard" for the animals in his or her care.)
• Pass new regulations to replace the outdated breeding and sales of dogs legislation, and much better enforcement of good welfare on licensed dog breeding premises.
• Launch a publicity and education campaign, delivered by all key dog and welfare organizations working together, to encourage a major improvement in how the public go about buying dogs.
Not highlighted in the official press release is the recommendation that the Dangerous Dogs Act be amended to apply to all dogs shown to be dangerous, rather than to specified breeds, and to address the problem of dogs being bred and reared specifically as weapons for fighting. (I was surprised to see this in the mix.)
I'm still digesting the report. But my first reaction is what are we doing here? Where's our self-examination? What can we learn from England's example?