Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs
In October I informed Members I had asked the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group to review the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014.
I would like to thank the Group for submission of their report, within a very demanding timeframe. I have now considered the comprehensive recommendations and have published the review report today.
The report highlights several issues. Inconsistency in the inspection and enforcement of the Regulations is a key theme. Concerns are also raised regarding the application of the staff to adult dog ratio at breeding premises and this clearly needs to be addressed. Another recommendation highlights the need for better welfare standards for all breeding dogs rather than only those at licensed premises.
As many of the recommendations, including the staff to adult dog ratio, can be adopted within the scope of existing legislation I am keen to progress these as a matter of urgency.
Some of the recommendations can only be dealt with by legislative change. However, for new regulations to be effective we must also tackle the barriers to enforcement Local Authorities are facing before proposing amendments to the current Breeding Regulations. The need for consistency of inspection and enforcement by Local Authorities is paramount in ensuring the welfare of breeding dogs and their offspring. Dog breeding premises are not evenly distributed across Wales and means some Local Authorities are struggling to cope with demands.
With this in mind, a scoping project is underway to determine what additional resource is necessary to ensure consistent treatment of all licenced breeding establishments across Wales.
Once the appropriate resource has been determined the Welsh Government will provide funding for a pilot scheme of three years to enable expertise to be built through specialist training and upskilling of dedicated Local Authority staff.
The report recommendations support a ban of third party sales of dogs which I have already said I see the value in banning third party sales of puppies and kittens and I commit to legislating on this before the end of this Senedd.
The combination of new regulations on pet sales, dedicated funding support for improvements to the enforcement and delivery of the existing Breeding Regulations will result in lasting improvements to the welfare standards of puppies bred in Wales.