Ministry: Law against Puppy Farms to Affect Honest Breeders

Stock photo by TASR

Bratislava, February 17 (TASR) – A law approved by Parliament with the aim of clamping down on puppy farms will have serious ramifications for honest dog breeders and state employees – while puppy farms will be spared, said the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry on Friday.

The ministry was reacting to a piece of legislation that was submitted by the Opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party and approved by Parliament on Tuesday.

The amendment, which will come into effect as of May, seeks to regulate the breeding of dogs if done as a business activity and in order to sell puppies. According to the ministry, the law involves a serious financial and paperwork burden that honest dog breeders will need to deal with. It will also do away with breeding dogs for state employees such as rescue workers, firefighters and police officers.

In addition, the ministry dislikes what it sees as loopholes that will preclude the authorities from stamping out puppy mills. With that in mind, the ministry is working on comprehensive measures that will be unveiled by the end of this year and will be directed at puppy farms. The policies will also involve giving more authority to veterinary inspectors.

“The MPs who submitted the bill certainly meant well, but the actual wording misses the goal. [The law] will not only place a financial burden on responsible dog breeders; it will eliminate the breeding of dogs for state employees, rescue workers, firefighters and police officers,” said the ministry’s head Gabriela Matecna (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee).

Matecna noted that comments from her ministry weren’t heeded while the law was under consideration. At any rate, she said, the situation is to be addressed by a major shake-up of the Veterinary Care Act that will include measures against puppy mills. This is set to be ready in September.

“The approved bill as worded will also affect the breeders of the five national Slovak dog breeds,” said Matecna. By enacting the obligation for dog breeders to request a sole trader’s licence, the law will also put an excessive bureaucratic burden on them while also imposing tax, levy and other obligations that stem from laws governing sole trading activities.

“Another serious loophole is the definition that regulated breeding is a kind of breeding in which the transfer of ownership of puppies comes with a payment. If a puppy farm operator simply says that he’s transferring the ownership of puppies free of charge, the law governing regulated dog breeding won’t apply to him,” said Matecna.

The minister is planning to meet representatives of the Slovak Kennel Club, who she said “were left out by the MPs submitting the bill”. By her own admission, supervision of dog breeding is indeed inadequate at present, a state of affairs that she’s looking to change and replace with an effective system of oversight and monitoring. Only then can honest dog breeders and their animals be protected. “We’ll punish puppy farm operators severely,” she said.