Writer, zoologist and gundog enthusiast, Pippa blogs on life in the countryside

Gundog owners in Wales face new legislation

The Welsh Assembly seems to have become rather ‘carried away’  with its proposals to control the breeding of dogs in order to resolve the problem of ‘puppy farms’  in Wales and are intent on labelling anyone keeping a number of unspayed bitches outdoors as commercial dog breeders.

This has raised questions in the working gundog community,  and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation has now become involved.

Whilst puppy farming is a serious and important problem,  it is also important that new legislation takes into account the needs of those that are clearly not puppy farmers but that may fall foul of the new legislation in its currently proposed form

As it stands at the moment,  under the new proposals, if you keep three or more unspayed bitches in kennels,  as indeed I and many other working dog owners do,  then you would in theory be obliged to register as a commercial breeder.   This would be the case even if you had no intention of ever breeding from your bitches.   Just owning unspayed bitches and kennelling them outside might be sufficient.

An exemption for working dogs

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation is seeking to provide an exemption for owners of genuine working dogs  to be able to produce up to four litters per owner per year.    BASC feels this would be sufficient for owners of working dogs to be able to maintain their working lines whilst still enabling the new regulations to help control puppy farming. 

I do wonder if by asking for this many litters per owner, BASC  risk losing their case altogether.   I would suspect anyone breeding four litters a year has some kind of commercial interest in dog breeding,  even if it is not a full time one. 

There are exceptions,  but few people with say a ‘picking up team’  of dogs,  work more than five or six dogs at once.  Most work less than this.   Anyone maintaining a line of dogs purely for their own personal use is surely only breeding a litter from each bitch once or occasionally twice in her lifetime in order to replace her.  This means that they would not have more than say five or six active bitches at any one time.  Even if you owned as many as ten bitches (to allow for retired and youngsters not yet at work),  and bred from each bitch twice in her lifetime,  with an average lifespan of ten years,   that is up to twenty litters,  or two per year at most.  

Perhaps BASC is hoping that if they ask for ‘4’  they might be able to do a deal for a lower number.

If you are concerned about these proposed new laws,  you need to contact BASC as a matter of urgency and definitely before the 30th September. 

You can find all the details you need here

What do you think about these proposals?  Are they fair?  Will they be a disincentive to puppy farmers, or will those people simply register as commercial breeders and pay their dues?



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