Three pet-related organizations have provided funding for a research project to be conducted that will develop independent, scientifically-validated animal care and welfare standards for the responsible breeding of dogs.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), Pet Food Institute (PFI) and World Pet Association (WPA) have pooled resources to support a two-year research project by Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science. Dr. Candace Croney, director of the Center, will lead the project.
“We are very pleased Purdue University has agreed to conduct this important research,” said Ken Oh, president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. “Purdue is a leader in the study of animal welfare and ethical care practices.”
The goal of the research is to develop, implement as a pilot project and evaluate substantive, science-based standards for the care and welfare of dogs raised by commercial breeders.
Duane Ekedahl, president of the Pet Food Institute, commented on the ambitious timeframe of the project, “We will have new standards of care for dog breeders by the fall, and the evaluation process will begin shortly thereafter. These practices will be thoroughly vetted by experts, including breeders, and refined as necessary prior to implementation.”
The first phase will be to draft comprehensive care practices for dog breeders that are based on the most up-to-date research on animal welfare science, including health, genetics, behavior and reproductive management. Once drafted, Purdue will enroll breeders in Indiana and several other Midwestern states in a pilot project to evaluate and monitor the health and well-being of animals while the new standards are followed.
At the same time, Purdue will develop outreach programs to engage the dog breeding community and educate breeders about the standards, how to meet them and how welfare assessments will be done. Stakeholders will be consulted to ensure that the standards are attainable and based on good science and ethics. The research project is intended to culminate in a voluntary audit and certification program for dog breeders that addresses the ethical obligation to protect the well-being of dogs from birth to end of life.
“We will engage stakeholders to seek their input and obtain their buy-in,” said Doug Poindexter, president of the World Pet Association. “For these new standards of care to be impactful, they must be adopted by the dog breeding community.”
Earlier this year, Purdue University announced the creation of its Center for Animal Welfare Science with a mission to identify animal welfare challenges and approaches to alleviate them, and to educate to advance socially responsible decision-making on animal care, management, and policy.