Pet shop guidance issued by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is “unfit for purpose” and its emphasis on pet trade-led information is “naïve and potentially harmful”, an independent review claims.

According to the review – published in The Journal of The Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association – the Model Conditions for Pet Vending Licensing (MCPVL) guidance represents a “wasted opportunity” to improve animal health and welfare in Britain’s 4,500 pet stores.

According to reviewers, the long-awaited MCPVL guidance intended to offer local authorities and pet shops updated help on pet shop husbandry and sales practices.

However, despite contributions from Dogs Trust, Cats Protection and the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the CIEH’s document is let down by some contributors from the trade sector who “lack relevant qualifications” and have “overriding interests” in selling pets.

Therefore, the scientific review points at pet trade vested interests for the “misleading, inaccurate, outdated and retrograde” information included in the guidance.

According to the review, the publication of the guidance has arrived two years late after a scientific team found it included advice that was “misleading” and “dangerous” to both animals and people. 

The project steadily “haemorrhaged contributors”, says the review, with specialists from the fields of biology and veterinary medicine being among 10 contributors who asked for their names be removed from the project.

The review also raises concerns the guidance could result in animal harm and that, in some cases, following the guidance could lead users to contravene the law. Not surprisingly, the Animal Protection Agency (APA) does not recommend councils adopt the guidance.

Mike Jessop, veterinary surgeon and co-author of the scientific review, said: “The CIEH document was an ideal opportunity to unify the variable local standards to one national benchmark. It was supposed to draw on the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and update the previous guidelines of 1999. It was the lack of wide consultation and the failure to draw on existing evidence and advice from experts in their field that has caused this document to miss its mark. It is a great sadness that the health and welfare of the unusual pets has been so badly failed.

“The better parts of the document were the sections on dogs and cats that are now rarely traded in pet shops. The species that needed this document most, have been the least well served,” he said.

Kat Stuart of the APA, meanwhile, said although the agency commends the CIEH for its efforts, the guidance falls “well short of the mark”.

She added: “[CIEH] has missed an opportunity to produce a quality document. Fortunately, the MCPVL is set to be superseded by independent scientific evidence-based guidance.”
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