Making good on a pledge to set out minimum housing conditions for dogs, the agriculture ministry on Thursday unveiled draft regulations that set outs specific space requirements, depending on the size of each dog.
The draft rules include the obligation to ensure dogs are adequately fed, have access to clean water, and are exercised daily.
These are now subject to open consultation. All interested parties must submit their views in writing by December 20 to the email [email protected].
Publication of the draft regulations follows approval of a bill amending the animal welfare law which was adopted by the House last month and under which it is prohibited to tie up a dog or a cat except briefly, for example while taking them for a walk or when in a public place. Moreover, owners cannot keep dogs and cats on rooftops, balconies or verandas, as this isolates the pets and exposes them to the elements.
But there were complaints that the new law did not go far enough in specifying the conditions under which owners could keep their dogs – and particularly that it did not rule out cages. During the discussion, the ministry promised to prepare a set of regulations specifying the minimum requirements for dog kennels.
The draft regulations apply to the keeping of dogs for private, non-commercial purposes. They do not apply to shelters, dog hotels, pet shops and veterinary clinics.
The proposals are now available online and open to public consultation with a view to their implementation six months after their publication in the official gazette, except for the space requirement for which a 12-month transition period is given.
They specify that dogs must be kept in spaces built in a way so as to minimise the risk of injury. With the exception of where dogs live in their owner’s residence, their living quarters must be such so as to allow them to see and hear what is happening in their surrounding space.
The floor must be compact and the surface non-slippery which does not irritate the pets’ paws. Each dog must have their own separate area to sleep or hide (eg box or doghouse) depending on the animal’s size. The surface on which dogs sleep must be dry, clean and soft and shield them from the floor temperature. Dogs must at any time be able to protect themselves from wind, rain, direct exposure to the sun, extreme temperature and other adverse weather conditions. They must not be kept continually in the light or dark, but there must be the appropriate natural or artificial light for the natural transition from daylight to night.
Ventilation should be such so as not to collect humidity, ammonia or unpleasant odours, while the space must be clean. Pets must be given satisfactory quantities of food in keeping with their nutritional requirements daily, and at the appropriate frequency, and must have clean water at all times. Their feeding and drinking bowls must be clean and placed is such a way as to minimize contamination. There must also be an adequate number so that all the dogs have access to food and water without fights breaking out.
Depending on the sex, breed, age and personality of the pet, they can be kept individually, in pairs or in bigger numbers. Non-compatible dogs cannot be kept in the same space.
The dogs must be exercised daily outside their living area, depending again on the sex, breed, age and personality.
The draft regulations also set out specific dimensions regarding the size and height of the living area of the dogs. In all instances, and irrespective of the table, the space should be such to allow all the animals to stand, sit, lie down comfortably with outstretched limbs and to turn round freely.
The minimum required dimensions are:
For dogs less than 50 cm in height: minimum size 6 square metres (each side must be a minimum of 2 metres); an extra 3 square metres for each additional dog; minimum height where there is a ceiling of 1.8 metres;
For dogs 50cm to 65 cm in height: minimum size 8 square metres (each side must be a minimum of 2 metres); an extra 4 square metres for each additional dog; minimum height where there is a ceiling of 1.8 metres;
For dogs taller than 65 cm in height: minimum size 10 square metres (each side must be a minimum of 2 metres); an extra 5 square metres for each additional dog; minimum height where there is a ceiling of 1.8 metres;
For bitches with their litter, the space must be twice the size in each case.