The Hows And Whys Of Dog Sourcing – Dogs Trust New Research
Recently I met with Dogs Trust in London to find out more about their work with dogs rescued from the puppy trade and to discuss how the charity best sees the way ahead to address the many problems the trade involves. As I’ve written recently, I support the positions taken by the big organisations that an overhauled and robust licensing system for breeders and sellers is the best way forward at the current time (read Dogs Trust position here). Licensing is what’s going to happen, the government are drawing up the new regulations now, although it won’t be as all encompassing as I and others want. Dedicating time and effort to ensuring the details of the new licensing regime are the best that the government will agree to is what the nation’s dogs need right now. I’m assured, and relieved that the government is receiving and heeding input from several of the most knowledgeable organisations and individuals when it comes to this issue.
I’ll be writing more in coming weeks on several things Dogs Trust are doing which I’ve been impressed to hear about, but I’m delighted today to share this new Dogs Trust research project they’re soon to launch. It’s an initiative which should lead to a better understanding of the puppy market, which in turn will help pinpoint the most effective strategies to help the dogs caught up in it.
Over the next 18-24 months the project will investigate the sources from which owners get their dogs and factors influencing people’s decisions on getting dogs. Further, the research will look at how different interventions might impact on the availability and movement of puppies, with the particular aim of identifying strategies that minimise the welfare implications to dogs. Whether we like it or not (I most certainly don’t, but I’m sufficiently realistic to see what’s obvious) dogs today are a ‘commodity’ in a lucrative market and I hope this research will make a good contribution to understanding how best to protect them.
The full team for this project is being assembled now, ready to get underway in July. For those who enjoy details, here’s more on the Dogs Trust research directly from them. If you’d like to get involved, or share information, the contact details are at the end of this blog. I hope this Dogs Trust research reaches far and wide once launched as it has great potential for helping dogs in the future.
Understanding the UK Pet Dog Population: Demand, movement, sources and owner acquisition behaviour
Dogs Trust Research project to identify the scale and dynamics of dog acquisition and movement in the UK
The research will start in July 2017, and run for a period of up to two years.
Stages of the project:
Phase 1: Review of existing evidence
The first part of the project will be to review existing sources of data on the UK dog population and ownership. This will include identifying and evaluating published and unpublished data on: numbers of owned adult dogs and puppies; where owners acquire dogs (e.g. breeders, rescue, friends / family, online adverts); the proportion of dogs acquired as puppies; patterns of acquisition, and any evidence for factors influencing owner decision making when acquiring a new dog. Data sources will be evaluated for sampling and reporting biases and meta-analysis conducted if viable. Gaps in the knowledge base will be identified to inform Phase 2. Phase 1 will also include a review of legislative and stakeholder led approaches that have been taken in other countries (Europe and worldwide) to address welfare issues associated with puppy breeding and sale.
Phase 2: UK dog owner survey
In Phase 2 we will conduct questionnaire based research of UK dog owners to answer key questions identified in Phase 1 for which relevant data are not available, or are considered unreliable. The study will be designed to identify and minimise sampling biases as much as possible, for example by collecting comparable data from different populations to quantify any variation.
Phase 3: Modelling of population and evaluation of impacts of different intervention strategies
Multi-variable regression models will be built to identify those factors which have greatest influence on source of puppy acquisition by dog owners in the UK. Predictive modelling will then be used to estimate the impact on model parameters of a range of different potential intervention strategies, including a ban on third party sales.
To ensure that the proposed research is both robust and transparent, we would like to invite key stakeholders to be involved in the development of the study, and to discuss the research findings at the end of the project. Stakeholders will include a range of welfare charities (including smaller ones), veterinary organisations and the Kennel Club. The working group will be invited to contribute to Phase 1, to ensure that all relevant existing sources of data and information are identified, and to help identify key aspects of population dynamics relevant for Phase 2. The working group will be invited back to discuss the findings of the project before results are published or disseminated more widely.
Evidence based decision making
The aim of this research is to identify existing sources of data and policy relating to the UK dog population, where and how puppies are sourced by owners. These data will be used to investigate the potential impacts on the ‘system’ of different intervention strategies. The findings of this study will be used as a basis for Dogs Trust policies relating to the breeding and sale of dogs in the UK, and to inform responses to legislative review.
To find out more, or get involved please contact Dogs Trust directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org