Hunt kennels remain exempt from dog breeding regulations in Northern Ireland
27 July 2012
Earlier in the year, the League responded to Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) consultation on the Draft Welfare of Animals (Dog Breeding Establishments) Regulations, raising concerns over the proposal for hunt kennels to be exempt from the regulations. The League was one of the 610 respondents to the consultation.
The League raised the following issues in relation to the exemption of hunt club breeding establishments:
• We believe the exemption will perversely create a two-tiered system where a dog is only worth the protection of regulation if it has a definable market value. This is fundamentally wrong and against the spirit and intention of the regulation to be firmly rooted in improving animal welfare standards
• We believe that hunt groups and hunt club breeding establishments should be subject to and abide by the same regulations and rules as other dog owners and breeders • We are concerned that an exemption for hunt breeding establishments would lead to the unequal application of guarantees to deliver the five freedoms of animal welfare in breeding establishments
• No individual, group or organisation should be exempt from guaranteeing these basic freedoms
Following a 12 week consultation on the proposed draft welfare of animals (dog breeding establishments) regulations, in which 12,000 stakeholders (registered dog breeders primarily) were approached, DARD (Northern Ireland) has released the following response to concerns raised over the exemption:
“In the draft Regulations we included a proposal to exempt hunt clubs from the new breeding establishment licensing requirements, as we understand that hunt clubs traditionally do not sell dogs, while the Regulations are only intended to apply to commercial dog breeding businesses. However, there were mixed views from stakeholders on this proposal. Some were of the view that no one should be outside the Regulations and others suggested that some hunt clubs do sell dogs. The Department considers that it remains reasonable to include this exemption but that it should be strengthened to ensure that it cannot apply to hunt clubs that sell dogs or pups.”
As an animal welfare charity the League applauds the Department for proposing increased welfare standards in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and encourages breeders to embrace the benefits from the public licensing scheme.
The League agrees that a new dog breeding establishment license should supersede the block license and registration for dog breeding and welcomes the new proposed system to ensure that only establishments that meet the conditions become licensed, including those conditions which firmly enshrine the five freedoms; freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease .However, following DARD’s response over the concerns raised in regards to the exemption of hunt club breeding establishments, the League will continue to closely monitor the situation going forward, highlighting any factors that will influence a change in The Department’s original decision for the exemption.