Ironically, animal welfare also featured in the Queens speech in the UK on Tuesday of this week. Problems have been well documented in the Netherlands for quite some time and more recently the German Kennel Club (the VDH) have had similar battles with law makers who bring in animal welfare legislation yet always seem to confuse genuine pedigree dog breeders with other issues. Worryingly, the agenda of activists always seems to be a priority whilst the needs, views and experience of the pure bred dog owners and breeders seem to take second place.
Mass castration of all dogs suggested in Southern Spain
Now the battlefield has switched to both Spain and Greece. Firstly in the South of Spain, the three Andalusian Kennel Clubs (Sociedad Canina de Andalucía Oriental, Sociedad Canina de Andalucía Occidental and Sociedad Canina Costa del Sol) have expressed great concern about the text of the PROJECT OF THE ANIMAL WELFARE LAW OF ANDALUSIA, in the south of the country
A petition has been circulating on social media, asking people to oppose proposed new laws. The petition reads:
This proposed legislation demands the mass castration of dogs, cats and ferrets before they are sold or given (always before 6 months), allowing only breeding in large centres or professional kennels, thus encouraging puppy farmers.
It will also lead to the loss of our rights and freedoms, the mutilation of animals and a slow and programmed extinction of purebred dogs and cats. This way we will lose our wonderful genetic, ethnic and cultural heritage
We have to stop this before it becomes a real law in Andalusía (in the south of Spain) and stop other countries doing the same thing. It’s one thing to tackle the stray dog problem, but it’s wrong to penalise the good breeders at the same time.
Please sign and share…. you don’t know what country will decide to follow suit, so this affects everyone in dogs.
The Spanish petition started by lawyer and opponent of the proposals, Rafael Fernandez de Zafra, is on Change.org and links are on OUR DOGS web site and social media
OUR DOGS asked the kennel club’s in the region for their views and we received a combined statement as follows:
“It is well known that the origin of the three Kennel Clubs in Andalusía, as Kennel Clubs that collaborate with the Real Sociedad Canina de España (RSCE) is for the conservation, improvement and promotion of all canine breeds, and very particularly of the four recognized Andalusian breeds: Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz, Spanish Water Dog, Andalusian Podenco and Maneto. Proof of the importance of our genetic heritage is that the city of Jerez has recently considered the Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz breed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of its city, showing itself sensitive and committed to our work, supporting the conservation of part of our history.
As we have been trying to show everybody, all Kennel Clubs represent the responsible breeders and we are the main promoters of responsible and controlled breeding of canine breeds. We advocate for the development of a PROJECT OF ANIMAL WELFARE LAW OF ANDALUSIA that contemplates in all its magnitude the different realities and sensitivities of the breeders, offering solutions to current problems such as: the high abandonment rate of stray dogs (of non-purebred dogs), the lack of public awareness, the massive and uncontrolled importation of companion animals from Eastern Countries, the real absence of pet identification or the scant protection of the genetic heritage represented by indigenous canine breeds, to name just a few of them.
Of course, we need a protective law against abandonment and abuse, but at the same time, respectful of those who are dedicated to preserving and improving breeds as art and living, cultural and genetic witness to be transmitted to future generations. From these Kennel Club’s we are really worried and we express our rejection of the debacle that this preliminary draft may entail in the articles that are exposed below and the aggressiveness with which the purebred dog is treated and those who are guarantors of its future. All the breeders we represent have pure breed dogs which are fully identified, controlled, micro chipped and registered in a stud book in the Real Sociedad Canina de España, and many with DNA tests.
The draft in its article 13.2 requires the sterilization of all companion animals, adopted or not, both from amateurs and from professional breeders before they are 6 months. In addition, article 8.7, does not allow the selective breeding of amateur breeders. Thus, the mandatory European regulations are violated, as well as other Spanish ones that protect the breeders of pure breeds registered in a book of origins with special protection of the national breeds. In addition, it is completely incongruous with article 39 in which it says they want to protect and promote our Andalusian breeds, while in 13.2 it exterminates them in the future by legislating castration of all dogs that will not allow them to reproduce, and irremediably condemns them to their extinction.
In the opinion of the Andalusian Kennel Clubs, the text does not meet European regulations, and therefore contravenes higher-ranking laws, not addressing the underlying problems that affect the dog breeding sector in our community. We have already presented our considerations (as Kennel Clubs and individuals) that were already expressed but sadly ignored at the CAPAC table.
(Consejo Andaluz de Proteccion de Animales de Compañia/ The Andalusian Council for the Protection of Companion Animals)
Our representative warned of the future reforms of the Civil and Criminal Code and of the creation by the General Directorate of Animal Welfare of a higher-level state law that, among other things, will overturn article 17 of the draft that still talks about potentially dangerous dogs.
It is deeply regrettable that none of these warnings have been considered in the draft which is tarring everybody with the same brush. It is basically wrong to merge the two categories together. Good breeders are the protectors of many breeds in our country, not just the national breeds, and our very heritage is being undermined in a bid to tackle problems with the stray dog population.”
SPANISH K C REACTION
Of course the world dog show was due to be held in Spain and its dates have been rearranged into 2022. OUR DOGS contacted the head of the Spanish Kennel Club, the RSCE, Julian Hernandez, who told us,
“The RSCE supports the Andalusian Canine Societies’ fight against the proposed Animal Welfare regional law that wants to impose the mandatory sterilization of all Andalusian dogs before reaching one year of age. Apart from the medical and moral inconveniences of such a measure, this imposition will mean the gradual deterioration of the canine breeds in the area. The law also aims to put an end to traditional breeders, those who for centuries have worked for the development and improvement of pure canine breeds. Faced with a situation like this, today more than ever, the entire canine world, clubs, breeders, fans and associations, both national and international, must be united to fight against those who want to impose a political agenda without taking into account the cultural and historical wealth and heritage that purebred dogs represent.” Julian Hernández, RSCE President
Opponents of the bill have an online petition running and have already attracted well over 3000 signatures, but more are needed to make the politicians re think the proposals. Apparently a national radio station is featuring the situation on one of its programmes so the more signatures they have, the better. Links to the petition are also on a number of online pages including OUR DOGS
Meanwhile, Greek dog breeders are outraged about similar new proposals from the Greek government which include the mandatory sterilization of puppies as well as the creation of so-called “professional” and “amateur” breeders.
The new pet bill, entitled the “Argos Programme”, has been created primarily to solve the large stray dog problem in the country. However, pure bred dog breeders are concerned that the Bill calls for the sterilization of puppies with the only exception to sterilization being for a medical reason. The new bill plans to neuter one million stray dogs. They believe that, 'sterilisation is the only way of controlling the population that prevents the birth of thousands of animals living in miserable conditions.' It creates “professional” breeders who will be given permits to breed. A permit will only allow one litter per pet and only six litters per pet in a lifetime will be permitted for these “professional” breeders. They will be fined €2,000 if they breed an animal more than six times.
Many hobby breeders in Greece believe that they would not be able to fulfil the requirements to be a “professional” breeder in terms of the space needed and proximity to inhabited areas. Only with permission will “amateur” breeders be allowed up to two litters from up to two animals per year. This measure will be reviewed in five years time. The bill will also ban the sale of dogs in pet shops, in-breeding from first degree breeding, mating ads and adverts for sale by unapproved breeders.
One well known Greek exhibitor and breeder told OUR DOGS, ‘it is very sad and I'm really ashamed to be Greek...'
This bill will also create a national register of pet animals, digital health records, a reduction in local fees for diligent owners, education and information about the protection of pets and a national phone line to report animal abuse incidents.
The Bill has the support of the Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has even adopted a stray dog, called Peanut. The Minister in charge of this Bill, Stelios Petsas, tweeted, 'A better framework for pets shows our humanity. With the new institutional framework I proposed to the current Council of Ministers, we are providing the tools and resources for the welfare of pets.'
Back in 2018, the Greek government proposed a law that would have obliged owners to neuter their animals or pay a levy €100. However, it was withdrawn following an outcry from Greek dog owners and animal welfare organisations.
Julie Stravolemou started an online petition to Hellenic Ministry of Interior due to the impact the laws will have on genuine breeders once more. The petition reads:
“The Greek government is about to pass a law concerning the "welfare" of pets. According to it, all hobby dog/cat breeders will be forbidden to breed and will be subject to serious fines should they not abide. Only "professional" breeders and commercial breeding facilities will be allowed to breed. The prerequisites (concerning space, proximity to inhabited areas, etc.) for obtaining the license of a "professional" breeder are preposterous and quite impossible for a hobby breeder to provide.
Furthermore, any and every non-"professional" dog and/or cat owner, including hobby breeders, will be obliged to spay/neuter all their animals. This is truly a tragedy for the Greek purebred dogs and cats community, which will practically cease to exist. Of course, we can also forget our national breeds, some of which have existed in our country for more than 5000 years...
Animal activists believe that this way every person who wants to get a dog or cat in Greece will adopt a stray, thus eliminating their numbers. This is so stupid! People who wish to obtain a purebred dog or cat will simply buy from backyard breeders and puppy mills, here or abroad, through several people who already trade in importing these poor animals by the thousands.
Greek breeders ask that purebred dogs/cats be exempt from obligatory sterilization/castration and that a special license for hobby breeders be provided for in the new law.
Please, sign this petition and help us be heard!!!”
The Greek petition is on Change.org and links are on OUR DOGS web site and social media
FCI AND THE KENNEL CLUB
OUR DOGS contacted the FCI for a statement on their position; Yves De Clercq FCI Executive Director told us:
“Greece officially contacted us regarding this issue and we have asked all our Members to bring arguments and help, based on their own experience in this field, if any. The FCI Members were asked to answer directly to Greece so we have no real tracking of the answers but we got a positive feedback from Greece about the answers.
We have not been in contact with Spain and we have just been contacted by Uruguay for a similar issue. The FCI will do its utmost to engage and encourage its Members to share their expertise, help, experience and assistance. We represent 99 “countries” and we have no doubt that all together, we have enough material to provide to help the countries involved fight and oppose these anti-dog legislations.
As complementary information, please note that the FCI wrote to the Greek Prime Minister and other Governmental authorities, expressing our arguments against such a discriminatory law.
In addition, we recently organised a series of 3 webinars, with a participation of 200 people appointed by our Members and Contract Partners, dealing with strategies to deal with anti-breeding propaganda. That was a huge success. The FCI is well aware of the situation and we are doing our best to help our Members and Contract Partners.”
Speaking on behalf of the Kennel Club in London, Kathryn Mansfield, Kennel Club Secretary said,
“We have been made aware of a report that the government of Andalucía is proposing that all dogs in the region must be neutered or spayed at six months / one year of age which include dogs owned by non commercial/hobby breeders and that Greece is thinking of a similar practice. While we appreciate that these countries face very different issues to the UK with regard to stray dogs, there are strong concerns of what the possible implications on this might be and how this might affect the future of dogs.
We are contacting the Real Sociedad Canina de Espana, with whom the Kennel Club has a reciprocal agreement with, to investigate the situation further and will ensure that any support that may be needed is offered.
The worrying aspect in all of these cases is that ‘the baby gets thrown out with the bath water’. Despite good intentions in reducing strays or whatever, it seems in many cases that the genuine breeder of pedigree dogs seems to fall foul of legislation that does not seem to be thought through properly. Pet welfare seems to be one of those easy target areas for politicians, local or national, where there is the possibility of a sound bite that shows them in a good light and yet they fail to engage with responsible dog groups and organisations.