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Scottish Government to consider regulating canine fertility clinics

The Scottish Government is to consider regulating canine fertility clinics following an investigation by The Ferret revealing that some offer veterinary procedures that critics say should only be performed by vets.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of canine fertility clinics across the UK in recent years due to a growing demand for puppies and fashionable dog breeds. 

These clinics are currently unregulated, however, prompting concerns that untrained  people are performing veterinary services that should only be carried out by qualified professionals.

The Ferret’s investigation last month found there are at least eight canine fertility clinics in Scotland offering services such as progesterone testing – a blood test to pinpoint the best day to mate dogs. This involves taking blood from an animal which should be done by a vet, say animal welfare campaigners.

In response to our findings the British Veterinary Association (BVA) said it was “deeply concerned” and Mark Ruskell, the Scottish Greens environment spokesperson, wrote to the Scottish Government to ask if it would regulate canine fertility clinics.

We are glad that the Scottish Government recognises the serious concerns associated with canine fertility clinics and will consider regulating them. We urge that the consultation on this is brought forward without delay

Kirsty Jenkins, policy officer at the animal welfare charity OneKind

In a written answer to Ruskell, published yesterday, the Scottish Government confirmed it was looking at the issue. 

Mairi Gougeon, the cabinet secretary for rural affairs and islands, wrote: “The programme for government 2020-21 commits the Scottish Government to consult on proposals to extend the new regulatory framework that came into force on 1 September last year for the licensing of dog, cat and rabbit breeding activities, animal welfare establishments and pet sales to performing animals and animal care services. 

She added: “This latter category may possibly include canine fertility clinics, particularly given the concerns of the veterinary profession about the growth and practices of such clinics across the country.”

Kirsty Jenkins, policy officer at the animal welfare charity, OneKind, welcomed Gougeon’s comments and said: “We are glad that the Scottish Government recognises the serious concerns associated with canine fertility clinics and will consider regulating them. We urge that the consultation on this is brought forward without delay.”

The BMJ – a medical trade journal – said in 2020 there were at least 37 canine fertility clinics in operation in the UK compared to just one in 2015.

Photo Credit: iStock/Capuski

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