The need for responsible dog breeding

A report by Kenneth Gibson MSP

Demand for puppies and dogs has risen greatly over the past year, as people and families have taken advantage of more time at home.

This high demand for pets during lockdown saw prices rise and more illegal breeders selling unhealthy pups bred in appalling conditions.

In the first three months of 2021 the SSPCA received 398 calls regarding illegal breeders, more than double the number than in the same period in 2020.

Many illegally bred puppies are sold online through small advertising sites or social media. The, SSPCA estimate that 40% die before their fifth birthday, while 15% get sick or die in the first year.

If re-elected to the Scottish Parliament, I will continue to voice my strong support for Christine Grahame’s Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill, which will crack down on these unscrupulous practices.

The Bill will improve the welfare of puppies and dogs by strengthening the regulation of breeding and selling or giving away dogs in Scotland, establishing a more responsible approach to acquiring a puppy or dog.

A major element of this bill is to reduce the maximum number of litters that can be bred in a 12-month period before a dog breeding licence is required, from five to three litters

The Bill also states that all litters must be registered before the puppies are advertised, sold or transferred to another owner. A person owning a dog with puppies will then have to register the litter in a Scotland-wide database before advertising, transferring or selling them. To facilitate this, the Bill places a requirement on Scottish Ministers to set up a Scotland-wide puppy litter register.

Any advertisement for a puppy will have to include either the breeder’s breeding licence number or litter registration number. The Bill also requires the person registering a litter to provide the microchip numbers for each puppy before selling or giving them away.

It is believed that these measures will improve overall puppy welfare by improving their traceability and by holding breeders accountable for any litters their dogs have.

Prospective dog owners will also be required to consider a series of questions before acquiring a puppy or dog to ensure they consider the responsibility involved. These questions should prompt careful consideration of the main factors related to owning and caring for a puppy responsibly and ensuring its wellbeing throughout its life.

The Bill will also introduce a new code of practice to be followed by people either considering buying or selling a puppy or dog.

Dogs and puppies contribute so much to so many households, and it’s easy to see why more and more of us want to welcome them into our homes. Nevertheless, something must be done to curb the rise in immoral and reckless breeding practices. By encouraging a more responsible and informed approach to acquiring a puppy, we can reduce the supply coming from irresponsible or illegal breeders, improve animal welfare and contribute to reducing criminal activity.