Canine Care Certified, a national, voluntary program that sets rigorous, science-based standards for dog breeders, is now accepting applications from breeders nationwide to become certified. The broad introduction follows extensive research and pilot testing within the breeder community, which was led by faculty at Purdue University.
The program is based on the Standards of Care, developed in 2013, by researchers at Purdue’s Center for Animal Welfare Science and was peer-reviewed by animal scientists, veterinarians and canine welfare experts. The certification program, developed at the request of a group of responsible breeders, has been pilot tested with breeders since early 2015.
“This is a program with expansive reach, deep substance and pilot testing to ensure it works. For responsible breeders, there should be no more important business practice than ensuring the health and well-being of their dogs,” said. Dr. Candace Croney, director of Purdue’s Center for Animal Welfare Science. “We took a hard, thorough look at the welfare status of the dogs we studied, public expectations and the relationship of breeders with their dogs. This research directly impacted the standards that address the dogs’ physical and behavioral health. It is the backbone of this comprehensive and truly unprecedented program. The program is voluntary and a way for breeders to assure the public that they are doing the right thing for their dogs.”
An independent, third-party auditing firm, Validus, inspects breeders onsite who apply for the program and issues certificates to those who meet the stringent Standards of Care. To begin the process of certification, breeders are encouraged to create an account on the Canine Care Certified website. Upon confirmation of their application materials, they must complete an onsite audit by Validus.
“As an experienced third-party verifier to numerous animal care and well-being standards, the Canine Care Certified program has been a natural extension of our core area of expertise,” stated Matt Jones, VP of Operations for Validus, a division of Where Food Comes From, North America’s leading independent verification company. “When you have a science-based standard that has been thoughtfully developed and well piloted, it makes it easy for us to implement and maintain a program of this nature.”
A number of the pilot breeders who participated in the Purdue research have passed the audit to become Canine Care Certified, and several other breeders are in the process of implementing the Standards of Care in preparation for audit.
“It was important for us to participate in Canine Care Certified because we are committed to always raising the bar and improving the lives of dogs. Through our participation in the program, we have improved our documentation practices, enhanced public perception and awareness about responsible dog breeding and highlighted our dedication to ensuring dogs are well cared for,” said Terry Buening of My PawPaws Puppies, one of the first breeders to receive certification. “This has been a heartwarming and comforting process for the new pet families we are working with daily. They don’t have to assume anything about how the dog was raised. It’s laid out for them in the standards.”
Current regulatory programs provide a minimum level of standards as required by law, and none fully address areas such as behavior or socialization. Other voluntary programs do not have substantive measurement and evaluation provisions. Further, the Canine Care Certified program is available to any breeder, regardless of size, that commits to meeting the standards.
“We applaud the dog-breeding community for taking the initiative to establish a voluntary program that gives breeders the power to demonstrate that their dogs and puppies have been raised in a manner that focuses on the animals’ physical, psychological and behavioral needs,” said Dr. Bret Marsh, Indiana State Veterinarian. “Veterinarians see the value of independent programs like Canine Care Certified™ and understand that physical health is only one measure of a dog’s overall well-being.”
It is anticipated that the voluntary nature of the Canine Care Certified program, combined with consumer demand for dogs raised in this manner, will lead to high motivation for participation and compliance by breeders. Consumer outreach will focus on raising public awareness of Canine Care Certified, ensuring those who seek a purpose-bred dog know to ask for the dog’s records and to look for the Canine Care Certified seal that is unique to the breeder. The designation only will be available for use by breeders who have received certification. In addition, Canine Care Certified marketing materials have been provided only to those retail locations that sell dogs from certified breeders.
Canine Care Certified is administered by the Center for Canine Welfare, a national, non-profit organization. While a number of pet-related organizations including The World Pet Association and the American Kennel Club have publicly supported the program, none of the organizations had any direct or indirect involvement in the research or the development of the Standards of Care.