The role of Dutch government in the dog breeding sector
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In the Dutch dog breeding sector many welfare problems arise as a direct result of the breeding criteria used by the breeders. Improvements to the situation have hardly occurred in the past years. Inherent to the way the sector is organised proposed regulations cannot be implemented, since non-obedience cannot be penalized. In the first chapter I will examine the dog breeding structure, the selection criteria, the welfare problems in purebred dogs and some steps that were undertaken during time. The government has accepted a passive, but stimulating role towards the sector and the problems. What can be deduced from the fact that although the role the government has taken is not an active one, she has undoubtedly recognized the present problems and suggested to improve the situation? To explain the role the Dutch government has taken I will analyze their attitude towards the dog breeding, the Animal Act and general policy in chapter II. From this I will reconstruct the moral status of (all kept) animals in the Netherlands. I notice that the Dutch government hesitates to accept the main responsibility in the matter and will explore the possibility for them to take a leading role in the matter. Therefore, in chapter III, I will introduce Mill’s Harm Principle, which is generally used in a liberal society to justify compulsion of free citizens by the state. My aim is to found out whether stronger governmental interventions can be justified towards the dog breeders, by referring to ‘harm to others’. I will show that in its original form this principle is not suitable to include harm to animals. As a solution, I will give a reformulation of Mill’s Harm Principle by incorporating Martha Nussbaum’s capability approach, in order to make it possible to include harm to animals. The outcome is a strong justification for the government in the Netherlands to interfere with the business of dog breeders.