The Animal Welfare Act

You have until March 17th to make a difference. the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee is currently looking into animal welfare in relation to domestic pets.

The letter below is the Trust's submission.
You will find more info and how to submit on our fb page or email us at

Please feel free to use some of the content or draft your own submission but you only have a few days left to make a difference. I you go to the Facebook link at the top of our home page you will find more info and the link to make your submission. it's as easy as that, no posting, posting, no stamps, just a couple of clicks and you can help make a huge difference.

Submitted by Barbara Sykes on behalf of The Freedom of Spirit Trust for Border Collies registered charity number 1121598.

The Welfare Act lets down a large number of dogs as shown by the large number of dogs in rescue that have been abused, abandoned and then turned out by their owners. The majority of dogs in rescue are ex pet dogs.
The issue is largely caused by people being able to have a pet dog with no references, there being no registration process and being able to get one for free or very cheaply from a free ad. The Welfare Act does nothing to prevent this and but has a legal obligation that it puts on owners and keepers of animals to care for them properly. It automatically sets itself up for failure, as there is no way of recording every pet owner currently.
The micro chipping requirement coming in sounds like a good idea until you learn that rescues constantly receive dogs that are neutered and chipped (ex pet dogs), have been in the pound for two weeks and there is no way of contacting the previous owner because the phone numbers aren't valid anymore and they have moved house. Or the other scenario where the phone number is active but the person who answers says that they don't want the dog back and they have moved and can't be traced. There is no provision in place within the Welfare Act that helps those dogs.
While the microchips help finding lost dogs it would make more sense to have one company making the chips instead of the multiple companies that we currently have and for owners to have to pass a pre registration test or course to prove that they are capable of looking after a pet. This has been extremely successful in Sweden.
With the microchips having to be transferred from the rescues name into the person who rehomes the dogs name there is also a chance of failure. It would be better to have all rescue dogs chipped to the rescue and prefixed with an 'r' on the chip number. If the rescue is happy to transfer ownership of the chip then that could be agreed but they would have to be contacted before this is done.
So many unwanted dogs are put to sleep in pounds every year in Britain, with there being no back up on the chip and no way of guaranteeing that just because a dog is chipped that the owner is contactable then this number is almost certainly not going to drop.
Another example of the microchip not working:
"We took a dog into our rescue from a pound and it was chipped. All good so far as it means the pound will have checked the owner out and we can get in touch with the chip company and find out age, correct name, how many times in the pound etc. This only works if its registered and is only easy to trace if there are limited ways the chip was distributed. This chip was not manufactured by any of the usual companies, we traced it to a company who only manufacture and supply but don't keep a database so don't know anything about the dog it was used on. The Chip went from the manufacturer to a branch of Dogs Trust who can't track it as it went from them to another outlet (wardens, rescues etc) but the number is registered with Petlog. This gets better......... Petlog do have the number registered to them but no details were ever forwarded to them."

It would be good to have all dogs registered on a one off registration form/log which will log the birth, change of ownership and any misdemeanour that calls for the owners of the dog to be answerable to police, insurance companies etc., e.g. causing an accident, livestock worrying, aggression to person or other dog, regular straying. All puppies to be registered before 8 weeks of age to the breeder and at the breeders expense in addition to compulsory microchipping.

All dogs will be traceable back to their breeders which will make breeders more careful with their breeding policy and with future sales of puppies. Anyone purchasing a dog other than a puppy will be able to trace its history and will be breaking the law by purchasing a dog without a certificate or registration.

The Welfare Act does not address the issue that there is no governing body attending solely to the welfare and future of dogs in the UK. There is an overflow of training bodies, rescues, behaviourists and official large bodies but all are concerned with only their own field, eg rescue, or training, or breeding or cruelty. Research proves that organisations large and small have books, leaflets, pamphlets, downloads, for advice on finding, buying and training puppies and older dogs, a lot of which is conflicting. Despite the fact that they are available we have rescues teaming with unwanted and problem dogs and many confused dog owners who have been subjected to a variety of different training methods. There are no restrictions in place to control breeding causing an overflow of puppies, resulting in supply exceeding demand and producing an element of discarding dogs that are a problem as there are many more to choose from. Hence we have overflowing rescues and pounds and healthy dogs, both young and old, being put to sleep.

To own anything with wheels and an engine one is answerable to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). To own any agricultural animal one is answerable to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Horses have to have a passport (a document used for identification and ownership). Whilst Defra does have information regarding dogs it is very limited and considering the number of dogs in the UK it surely warrants a dedicated department. Dogs have nothing and no 'body' defending them and their future. There are a lot of organisations with an 'interest' in dogs but each one is only interested in its own speciality e.g. rescue, training, breeding. A governing body will not be easy to set up but neither is it impossible and the existing organisations will already have the software and systems. What we are calling for is one independent body that will work solely for the benefit of dogs. One immediate advantage would be that once set up anyone buying a new dog would be able to contact that body and find out all the legal requirements before purchasing.