WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The director of Purdue University’s
Center for Animal Welfare Science will lead a two-year research project to
develop and test science-based, nationwide animal care standards for the
commercial breeding and raising of dogs.
The goal is to provide breeders with uniform standards for
dog care and well-being in all states, said Candace Croney, an associate
professor of comparative pathobiology and animal science whose research focuses
on the behavior and welfare of animals.
“Although many states have standards in place, they are
highly variable from state to state,” she said. “In addition, several factors
that significantly impact dog welfare, such as their housing, have not been well
studied, raising questions about the basis and adequacy of current standards.
This project will help fill the gaps in regard to better meeting dogs’
The public is becoming increasingly concerned that existing
state laws, typically written as minimum standards, do not fully address
important elements of dog care and well-being.
It is estimated that there are more than 78 million pet dogs
in the U.S.
“Given that over 36 percent of households own dogs, breeding
of dogs — particularly under conditions that appear to harm them — obviously
evokes strong reactions by the U.S. public,” Croney said.
The project, funded by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory
Council, Pet Food Institute and World Pet Association, will draw on the varied
expertise of many Purdue researchers and colleagues at other
Additional support is being provided by the Science Fellows
program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service and the USDA-APHIS Center for Animal Welfare.
When the standards are finalized, the Purdue Center for
Animal Welfare Science will develop education programs for breeders.
“Using this approach will ensure the production and proper
vetting of the standards developed to improve voluntary compliance with best
practices,” Croney said.
Croney said the approach also will:
* Help breeders make informed choices about participating in voluntary dog
welfare assurance programs.
* Create a mechanism by which to address public concerns about commercially
bred dog welfare.
* Demonstrate the pet industry’s willingness to assume its ethical
obligation to regulate its animal care practices.
Croney said the standards also could be adapted to enhance
the care and welfare of dogs in shelters, laboratories and other commercial
“Capitalizing on the center’s expertise in animal welfare
science and ethics will help the pet industry ensure that all dogs are offered
the quality of life they deserve,” she said.