So what’s the point of registration systems & trade body memberships?
To many, the Kennel Club’s registration system is a confusing one. On the one hand, there’s what the KC describes as “a simple record of a puppy’s birth”. This allows sellers of puppies who have registered (and paid the KC for the pleasure) to advertise their puppies ‘with papers’ and as “KC Registered”. Presumably this is in the hopeful – and most likely reliable – belief this will add a semblance of credibility to the seller. The Kennel Club, I assume, accept this is part and parcel of their system. A “simple record of a puppy’s birth” but one that’s used to help sellers sell puppies.
Then there’s the heavily promoted Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS), which they describe as “similar to a ‘kitemark’ that shows the breeder has agreed to follow recommended breeding guidelines”. The ABS involves KC inspections, and in theory at least, this should offer more assurance to puppy buyers as to the health of all the dogs involved, parents as well as puppies. But, the ABS has its critics, plenty of them, both within and outside the dog breeding world. Here’s a snapshot of the RSPCA’s view. And a recent piece in Dog World gives a flavour of how others feel about KC registration.
The KC does like to promote its registration system as a way to avoid buying puppies from puppy farmed sources. That’s especially the case for them and the ABS. It’s not however clear that the average puppy buyer knows what the difference between a ‘KC registered’ puppy is and one from an Assured Breeder. I know this muddle exists in people’s minds as I get asked to explain it all the time, by those desperately trying to do the right thing when finding a puppy and ending up mightily confused by it all.
I’m not sure my explanations are what the KC would like me to say. But one thing that the KC would, I’m sure be happy to hear me say, is that puppy buyers should always see the puppy interacting happily, naturally with its mother. This, is a message the KC, along with other organisations and campaigners, have been pushing home for some time. The ‘wheresmum’ message originally coined by Pup Aid, has been widely adopted.
In fact, as Marc Abraham, founder of Pup Aid recently wrote on the Huffington Post
“…. buyers have long been advised (by every UK animal welfare organisation) to see puppies interacting with their mothers, and this is probably one of the few requirements for prospective dog owners that stakeholders (with the sole exception of Pet Industry Federation) always agree on”.
The post was an Open Letter to the Pet Industry (PIF) and is the latest in a series of public attempts to get the PIF on board with ending the sale of puppies in shops and other retail outlets. Marc Abraham, backed by many campaigners, and the PIF have been at loggerheads at least since the PIF lobbied the government ahead of last September’s parliamentary debate on selling puppies in shops. In response to the Huffington Post piece, the PIF’s CEO, Nigel Baker, playing down the influence the PIF may or may not have, amongst other things, wrote in Pet Trade Extra
“today, we have two member pet shops that sell puppies (they also breed puppies)”.
I decided to see if I could find the two, seeing as PIF no longer make this knowledge easily available (weird, for a trade body that says it supports its members and businesses, but then appears to want to hide that membership from the public). It wasn’t hard. With a few clicks on my PC I soon found Pixieland Puppy Nursery.
On the home page, proudly stating “Members of the Pet Industry Federation and fully compliant with all relevant Environmental Health standards”. Not only that, but, and here’s an oxymoron if ever there was, to be specialists, yes, to specialise, no mean feat this, in 12 different breeds. Yes 12. And here they all are, lifted from their site:
“Golden Retrievers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Yorkshire Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Scottish Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Miniature Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, Bichon Frises, Shelties”.
What an odd idea they have about being a specialist.
Looking closer at the site, as well as the KC recognised breeds listed, they also have available some puppy farmers delights: cavachons, cavapoos, cava-shuzs, Yorkiechons, cockerpoos and cockerchons.
By the time I’d got to this point, I was swallowing down the rising bile, only to see that as well as laying claim to their proud membership of the PIF, in the next paragraph they say:
“We work with 4 licensed breeders, two of whom we have used for 25 years, the other two for 16 years. We only use these breeders, which means that we know the background of our puppies. Most puppies are Kennel Club registered.”
So here we have what’s obviously a puppy dealer – all licensed and legal – but a puppy dealer all the same, promoting not only their credentials as PIF members but also their KC registered puppies.
I’ve tweeted the KC, asked for a comment, have yet to hear back from them.