As a dog lover and owner, I share the rising concerns around the health issues, particularly respiratory conditions, faced by these types of animals especially pugs, British bulldogs and French Bulldogs However, it is less known that the popularity of flat-faced breeds is increasingly affecting cats, rabbits and even horses so I commend this campaign for helping raise awareness of the many detrimental effects suffered by these animals.
The UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and I would like to assure you that the Government takes the issue of low-welfare and illegal supply of animals very seriously. Significant steps have been taken to improve and update the laws in England to crack down on unscrupulous breeders who breed purely for financial greed at the expense of animal welfare.
Under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, licensed breeders are prohibited from breeding dogs if it can be reasonably expected that on the basis of their genotype, phenotype or health, this would lead to welfare problems for the mother or the puppies. I know that this applies in the case of brachycephalic breeds.
Both licensed and unlicensed animal breeders are required under the Animal Welfare Act to protect the animals involved in breeding from harm and to provide for their welfare in line with good practice. A breach of these provisions may lead to imprisonment, a fine or both.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is in the process of reviewing the 2018 Regulations and I look forward to reading their review once it is published which I understand will be later this year.
Finally, Defra’s campaign Petfished raises awareness of issues associated with low-welfare and illegal supply of pets. The campaign provides a list of red flags for buyers to look out for when searching for a pet online. More information can be found here: https://getyourpetsafely.campaign.gov.uk/