Poster Abstract: Designing canine welfare standards for high-volume dog breeders and high-volume dog retailers

Animal Welfare in Veterinary Medical Education and Research

November 8-11, 2009
The Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center at
Michigan State University

Colonius T
School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University

Recently, many states have proposed or passed legislation imposing regulations on those who breed or retail dogs in an effort to eliminate puppy mills. Regulating the care and husbandry of animals is complex and arduous; different policy design can dramatically impact a bill's enforceability and the resultant welfare of dogs. For example, an abundance of strict standards can render policy ineffective or impractical to implement. As canine welfare needs are universal, and as a large variety of operations can provide a reasonable level of welfare, model regulations were designed to serve as a guiding set of principles for local and state governments upon which to base legislation. Current existing legislation and scientific studies were reviewed to discover standards that are effective and promote established welfare needs of dogs. The models rely largely on performance based standards as they are both flexible and promote better welfare outcome for dogs. These models also use certain engineering standards to harmonize with current legislation and to specify clear minimum benchmarks of certain critical areas, such as primary enclosure space allotment. In more ambiguous areas, such as behavioral needs of dogs, performance standards are exclusively utilized. The result is a foundation for legislation that can be applied to a diversity of facilities and that promotes consistent welfare outcomes for dogs.