New advice for dogs and their owners

New welfare standards and guidelines for dogs will affect owners as well as breeders, according to the CEO of WA’s dog owners’ association Dogs West.

The McGowan Government has released a 43 page draft document titled Standards and Guidelines for the Health and Welfare of Dogs in WA and sets guidelines in place for improving health and welfare for dogs and their puppies.

The draft was drawn up by the Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan and, according to her department, it sets out the best practice for caring for dogs and propose the minimum health standards dog owners should follow.

Some of the proposed guidelines include:

  • Training should be stopped or modified when it causes the dog to be anxious or distressed
  • Minimum size dimensions for doghouses and kennels
  • Avoid speed bumps when driving with your dog and carry a canine first-aid kit when going for a walk
  • Motorists drive with care and try to minimise bumps, jolts and swerving
  • Pets be restrained during transport to prevent distraction and risk of injury
  • Dogs not tethered for a period exceeding two hours in 24 hours
Dogs West is Western Australia’s pet owners association is located in Southern River. Photo: Kellie Balaam.

Chief Executive Officer of Dogs West Ann Rushby said they consider these standards do cover the relevant aspects that are required and don’t need to go any further.

“We’re just concerned for our breeders, because as preservation breeders of pedigree breeds, we breed thoughtfully bred dogs that are hopefully healthy and give people a choice,” she said.

“If standards come in and are too restrictive, where are people going to get their dogs from? They are going to have to go to big commercial operations over east where they fly in litter loads of puppies and that’s not good.”

However, while RSPCA WA welcomes this step in the right direction, they do have concerns that the draft doesn’t outline enough guidance to protect dogs in WA from fear, pain or distress.

According to Ann Rushby, a lot of the standards and guidelines come with common sense but some pet owners don’t have basic knowledge on how to care for a dog.

“These guidelines set it out in black and white for pet owners on how to care for dogs and if they’re planning to breed, many of them are common sense but it’s educational,” she said.

Ms Rushby said the document was necessary for helping pet owners and their dogs because it mentioned how to raise puppies, how you feed your dogs and to not let them become overweight.

“I think it’s informative for dogs and owners because the owners need to have an idea that you don’t just get a dog and stick it out in the backyard, it’s got to be a part of a family,” she said.

As companions and working animals, dogs hold an important place in our lives.
Photo: Kellie Balaam.

The Standards and Guidelines for the Health and Welfare of Dogs in WA is currently out for community feedback and the RSPCA and Dogs West both encourage the public to have their say.

According to Ms Rushby the public should make sensible comments when submitting their opinion.

“Don’t just say yes or no, the online submission form has space for comments. When compiled the yes’s or no’s get mixed up where as comments create more effect.”

The eight week public submission period closes Friday June 7 at 5pm and the form can be accessed on Dogs West website

To see the Standards and Guidelines for the Health and Welfare of Dogs in WA document head to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development website.

Listen to what CEO Ann Rushby had to say about the welfare and health of dogs and the new standards and guidelines.

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