An “ethical” association of puppy breeders dedicated to providing happy and healthy cross-bred canines to the general public has been established in an attempt to “stamp out” the scourge of puppy farms.

Labradoodle
The HBA is for “hobby” breeders of all dogs deliberately cross-bred from health-tested lines and covers popular breeds – such as the labradoodle – often targeted by puppy farmers. IMAGE: Fotolia/Donna.

The Hybrid Breeders Association (HBA) was formed as an organisation for “hobby” breeders of all dogs deliberately cross-bred from health-tested lines.

These include all popular breeds, such as poodle-crosses, targeted by unscrupulous puppy farmers purely interested in profit.

The HBA is modelled along the lines of The Kennel Club’s (KC) Assured Breeder Scheme with veterinary professional assessors – either vet nurses or vets – checking members and breeding premises.

Mandatory health testing

The organisation only accepts members who home-rear and won’t accept licensed breeders or those who kennel. Full-time workers are also ineligible.

HBA members must be available to care for puppies in a loving home environment for the full eight weeks to socialise them and give them the best start when sold to a new family.

The HBA is working with Cathryn Mellersh, head of canine genetics at the AHT, to formulate mandatory health testing protocols for hybrid breeding. Dr Mellersh runs DNA health testing programmes for the BVA and The KC.

Jules Hamilton, founder of the HBA, said for four years it had been a “passion project”, but started to take off last April in the face of a flurry of puppy farming court cases involving dead or dying puppies and shattered, unsuspecting families who bought animals in good faith from money-motivated breeders.

Mrs Hamilton said: “As it stands, The KC is the organisation overseeing the pure-bred world, but there’s nothing to support those people who want a hybrid dog, like a poodle-cross.

“We’re offering a similar kind of breeder assessment to The KC’s Assured Breeder Scheme, but the difference is, we will only accept people who are breeding from health-tested dogs.

Mrs Hamilton added: “This is very much the ethical hobby breeders fighting back to stamp out the puppy farming market.”

Demand

Mrs Hamilton said the puppy-buying public was starting to understand it too had a responsibility when buying a puppy.

She said: “We’ve clearly got a public who is realising it has a responsibility, when choosing a dog, to find the right breeder as much as anything else and not taking it on face value breeders all know what they’re doing.”

  • Read the full story in March 27 issue of Veterinary Times.
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