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Crack down or crisis: Action demanded to combat rogue breeders and dog clinics

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The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) has issued a stark warning to the UK Government in a report published today: Crack down on rogue dog breeders and unregulated dog fertility clinics, or face a worsening animal welfare crisis. Sir Robert Goodwill, the chair of EFRA, did not mince words when he highlighted the urgency of reforming outdated laws, stating, “As a nation of animal lovers, we can’t stand by while our beloved pets suffer. Current rules are antiquated, dating back to 1966, and don’t even touch on cat breeding which is almost entirely uncontrolled.”

The committee’s shocking findings reveal that over half of all puppies sold come from shadowy, unlicensed sources. They are pushing for a transparent list of licensed breeders and demanding tougher regulations that would require any breeder with two or more litters annually to secure a license.

The explosion in dog fertility clinics — soaring from under 40 in 2020 to more than 400 by 2023 — has raised alarm bells. Many of these clinics operate without proper oversight, leading to illegal surgeries and perpetuating the breeding of dogs with serious health issues, driven by the craze for ‘designer’ dogs popularized by celebrities on social media.

EFRA is calling for a serious overhaul of the Veterinary Surgeons Act of 1966 to bring these clinics into line, proposing stiffer penalties for those caught performing unauthorized surgeries. Sir Robert [pictured below] pointed out that the current £100 fine is “a derisory deterrent” and not enough for the severity of these crimes.

Additionally, the report takes a hard stance against cruel practices such as ear-cropping and declawing, advocating for bans on importing animals subjected to these barbaric treatments and the sale of do-it-yourself surgery kits. It also urges a campaign to boost public awareness about the dark side of the designer pet industry.

The report also shines a spotlight on the desperate need for more resources for local authorities to enforce these laws effectively. It expresses deep concern over the risk of pets imported into the UK carrying exotic diseases, exemplified by the sharp rise in cases of Brucella canis, which shot up from 14 in 2020 to 75 in 2022. 

But while the committee has laid out a comprehensive plan to tackle these issues, it’s up to the government to act. The question now is whether the government will step up and implement these vital changes. GoFido and no doubt all true animal lovers will be keeping their fingers crossed. 

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