APGAW picked up the work it did in 2009 with the publication of A Healthier Future for Pedigree Dogs report through a Parliamentary roundtable in December. Following this APGAW facilitated a high level conference this July in Westminster chaired by Lord Trees to set out a clear plan on how to make substantial improvements to the breeding of dogs to tackle conformation issues which impact on their welfare. The event was attended by leading members of the canine community including representatives from the Kennel Club, British Veterinary Association, Royal Veterinary College, RSPCA, Battersea Dogs Home, BSAVA, Dogs Trust and the Blue Cross in addition to experts in the field of animal law, animal welfare enforcement and animal behaviour.

The purpose of the conference was to consider the scope and effectiveness of our existing regulatory toolkit[1] in regulating the breeding of dogs with extremes of conformation and to propose options for making these tools more effective and consider ways to raise public awareness about the welfare issues associated with breeding and owning dog of these types.  The attendees agreed that the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is not fit for purpose in terms of safeguarding the welfare of dogs and their progeny and needs review.

In addition, attendees agreed that a review of the LAIA Regs[1] to set clearer requirements around breeding dogs for licensing inspectors as well the requirement for all breeders be registered, together with the provision of additional guidance in the form of a CoP on breeding, would be a significant step forward; not only for licensing inspectors in implementing and enforcing the Regs but also for breeders in helping them to better understand their obligations, and to vets in advising their clients.  

There are some concepts which are currently being ironed out on how to improve the LAIA Regs as well as the Animal Welfare Act and APGAW has set up working groups to take the thinking forward.These groups are made up of vets, academics, licensing inspectors and the welfare charities. The conference has started the process of meaningful change and we now just need to ensure we have robust, evidence based and workable solutions through the working groups before presenting to Government. More news to come soon.