Draft code of welfare for dogs released for comment

17 September 2007

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is seeking comment on a new draft code of welfare for dogs released today. The code outlines the minimum standards of welfare and recommended best practices for anyone responsible for dogs. All dogs, including pets, show dogs, working dogs or those used for breeding or sport, are covered by this code.

Proposed minimum standards and recommendations for best practice relate to all aspects of dog ownership and care, including water, food and body condition, containment and shelter, sanitation, breeding and inherited disorders, health, behaviour, training, tail docking, transportation and euthanasia. The code is intended to encourage all those responsible for the welfare of dogs to exceed the minimum standards and adopt the best practices of husbandry, care and handling.

The draft code was written by a group convened by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council, in consultation with NAWAC. Animal welfare organisations, breeders, farmer representatives, local councils and veterinarians were consulted during its development. It was then submitted to NAWAC, which is seeking public feedback on the recommendations before finalising the code.

“NAWAC has not made any decisions yet. We want to know how people feel about the issues in the code and welcome submissions,” says Dr Peter O’Hara, Chairman of NAWAC.

“Tail docking is likely to attract interest. NAWAC felt that, in light of the Private Member’s Bill recently being dropped, there was a need to introduce some regulation around this practice. Essentially, the potential for pain might not be outweighed by non-medical reasons for removing the tail.”

“Body condition is also likely to generate debate, as condition varies between individual dogs, breeds and according to rate of work or physical activity. NAWAC recognises that owners’ opinion will vary in what they consider their dog’s ideal condition. Nevertheless, NAWAC considers that the welfare of dogs will be compromised if they are maintained in a ‘thin’ condition” says Dr O’Hara.

Another issue discussed in the code is inherited disorders as NAWAC considers that dog welfare can be extremely compromised in the short- and long-term through the effects of inherited disorders.

The draft code and details on the consultation process are available at http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/regs/animal-welfare or from the below address. The closing date for submissions is 1 November 2007. Any person may make submissions on the draft code by writing to:

NAWAC
c/-Animal Welfare Group
MAF
PO Box 2526
Wellington

Or by email to: animalwelfare@maf.govt.nz

Ends

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