Award-winning teams of animal licensing and enforcement officers are making a difference across Wales, as part of the Welsh Government’s plans to improve animal welfare.

The Animal Licensing Wales project, which initially focussed on dog breeding and enforcement, has been extended to 2025, following positive feedback from local authorities and animal welfare partners.

This follows a Programme for Government commitment to improve qualifications for animal welfare inspectors.

The project was recognised as an example of good practice at last autumn’s responsible dog ownership summit after delivering five training courses to 58 officers across all local authorities in Wales.

In addition, the first trained senior intelligence officer was nominated for a Pet Industry Federation award and the programme itself received the coveted RSPCA Innovator Footprint award.

Between February and December 2023 the team received 252 intelligence calls in relation to unlicensed dog breeders leading to 73 investigations and undertaken 391 inspections across 8 Local Authorities leading to 58 Improvement Notices under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 being served.

The team have also led operations at Welsh ports ensuring compliance with the pet travel scheme and commercial movement of pets.

Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “We have ambitious plans to improve animal welfare in Wales, and one of our commitments was to improve the training and qualifications for local authority enforcement officers. The Animal Licensing Wales project is making a real difference.

“We know ensuring dog breeding establishments are high quality and reputable plays a key role in promoting responsible dog ownership, and the officers are delivering real change here.

“It’s good to meet some of the team and to visit Dynamic K9 which is an example of a dog breeder with excellent facilities.”

Gareth Walters, project lead for Animal Licensing Wales said: “This project is delivering training across Wales, improving enforcement powers for local authorities. We're pleased it has been extended until 2025 and it will provide valuable lessons and experience for the future.”

The Minister also provided an update on how the Welsh Government are promoting responsible dog ownership and breeding through a series of workshops and events, following the success of last October’s summit.