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Puppy farming

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A brutal trade: Puppy farming

T IS sometimes observed that the British are prepared to allow humans to live in conditions that they would not allow their own pets to endure.

But imagine what it is like to be a breeding bitch on a puppy farm.

Puppy farms are large-scale breeding premises. The aim of puppy farms is to make money, no matter the cost to the dogs, who are kept in cramped and cruel conditions. The puppies are sold through pet shops, internet and newspaper ads.

Puppy farms in the UK have been found to have as many as 200 breeding dogs, most kept locked inside 24 hours a day, often in complete darkness. They are usually located on farms in barns, disused chicken houses garages or any disused outbuilding.

The dogs are forced to eat, sleep and give birth in the same area they urinate and defecate; something they would never do given the choice. In some cases they are treated worse than animals bred for the food chain.

The general public keep up the demand for pups and so the cruelty continues, day after miserable day.

Dogs on puppy farms are often neglected; matted coats, infected eyes and ears and rotten teeth are just a few of the painful conditions the dog suffer. When breeding dogs become too old and exhausted to continue producing puppies they are killed or a lucky few are given to rescues.

The puppies also often have behavioural and psychological problems, such as aggression and fearfulness, because they are not exposed to the outside world.

The puppies are generally removed from their mothers far too early and sent by rail or van to ‘dealers’ or pet shops to satisfy the public’s demands.

Many are severely traumatised by the transition, and some do not make it out alive. Puppies from these sources will have had the worst possible start in life, and are far more likely to have health and temperament problems.

THE COST OF BUYING FROM A PUPPY FARM CAN BE SIGNIFICANT

Almost half of dog owners are spending more on vets’ fees than they had accounted for, as more than one in four people (27%) say that they suspect that their puppy came from a cruel puppy farm. The rising cost of owning a puppy comes as people opt to buy ‘mail order pups’ online or from newspaper ads.

Many of these pups will go on to develop diseases and conditions common in puppy farmed pups. One fifth of pups purchased online, without being seen by their new owner first, ended up with serious gastro intestinal problems, 15%with the potentially deadly parvovirus and one in ten developed kennel cough.

WHY ARE PUPPIES FARMED?

And make no mistake, puppy farming is big and profitable business. While there are around 10 licensed dog breeders in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, there are many more unscrupulous breeders doing the canine equivalent of stacking ‘em high and selling ‘em not so cheap.

As an example if a commercial breeder with 50 bitches – a not unusual figure – that produce one litter a year of four pups and the pups sold for £200 each, that would be an annual income of around £40,000. If one multiplied that by the number of licensed breeders in one county, Carmarthenshire, that is £3.2m of gross income each year.

Add in Ceredigion, another 40 licensed establishments and you are up to £4.8m a year.

Those figures are startling enough, but the true figures may be even higher. An investigation by The Dog Rescue Federation has suggested that Carmarthenshire alone produces 28,000 puppies a year from licensed breeding establishments.

Moreover, some of the puppy farms are co-located with farms that receive significant sums in European subsidies, and the Welsh Government has neither the resources nor the capacity to determine whether funds intended to assist agriculture are being used to fund the factory farming of family pets.

As for any assurance that might be given by the statutory provisions in Wales, a Daily Mirror investigation into Carmarthenshire puppy farms in January of this year revealed that even licensed dog breeders are reluctant to allow purchasers to follow a key part of purchase advice; namely, allowing buyers to see their purchases with their mothers.

KENNEL CLUB SPEAKS

With west Wales being a centre for both legitimate dog breeding and puppy farming, The Herald asked the Kennel Club for their view on the issue.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Puppy farmers exploit the UK’s love of dogs by breeding for profit, without any consideration for health and welfare. The sad fact is that puppy buyers can inadvertently keep irresponsible breeders in business if they do not do the necessary research before they buy a puppy.

“By far the simplest message the Kennel Club can give those looking for a dog is to always go to a Kennel Club Assured Breeder and to always see the pup interacting with its mother in its home environment.

“The Kennel Club established the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme to help guide puppy buyers to responsible breeders and it carries out its own inspections on breeders to ensure they are adhering to high standards of practice.

“It is the only scheme in the UK where dog breeders have to follow high standards for caring for the health and welfare of their dogs and they have to agree to have their premises inspected before they join the scheme and at least every three years thereafter.

“We are extremely concerned about any breeders, large or small scale, who put the health and welfare of the dogs and puppies secondary to profit, or do not even consider it at all, and we would recommend anyone who has concerns that someone may be a puppy farmer to make their local authority aware and report any dog welfare concerns to the RSPCA.

“Prospective puppy buyers can help put irresponsible breeders out of business by doing their research and ensuring they buy a dog responsibly.

“There are a few simple things people can do to ensure they buy a puppy as responsibly as they can, such as always seeing the puppy with its mother, checking out the breeding environment and asking to see relevant health test certificates for the puppy’s parents.

“There are lots of tips and advice on finding a healthy, happy dog on the Kennel Club website and we would strongly suggest prospective dog owners start there when doing their research.”

WHAT DOES RSPCA CYMRU HAVE TO SAY RSPCA

Cymru superintendent Martyn Hubbard told us: “Puppy trafficking is big business and dealers are getting rich from duping members of the public and leaving a trail of sick and dead puppies behind them, not to mention the heartache of families that have bought puppies.

“Many irresponsible breeders who breed puppies for sale, are based on maximising profit with little regard for animal welfare.

“RSPCA Cymru welcomed the introduction of new legislation in Wales in 2015 to regulate dog breeding establishments. However, though this marks a significant improvement, we remain concerned that the regulations don’t go far enough in some areas.

“For example, they fail to address the need to prioritise health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing which animals to breed, in order to protect the welfare of both the parents and the offspring, or to tackle the issues of inherited diseases and exaggerated physical features which compromise the welfare of many dogs of numerous breeds and types.

“Parts of Wales have an unenviable reputation for poor breeding practices. It is vital Local Authorities in Wales feel equipped to tackle this serious problem, and are in a position to stamp out such incidences and ensure breeders protect the welfare of dogs and puppies involved.

“This is particularly important where dog breeding is exceptionally prevalent, such as in Carmarthenshire and other parts of west Wales.

“Given the overpopulation of companion animals in Wales, we’d urge people to strongly consider adopting a dog or puppy in need of a second chance.”

THE PROBLEM ISN’T CONFINED TO BUYING DOGS FROM WALES

There was a 61% increase in pups coming into the UK from abroad in the first year since the controls were relaxed under changes to the Pet Travel Scheme in 2012, and that does not account for the undeclared dogs that are being smuggled illegally into the country.

People opt to buy ‘mail order pups’ online or from newspaper ads, not realising that many pups being sold through these routes have been illegally smuggled from abroad.

One in ten people bought a ‘mail order pup’ from the internet online or from a newspaper advert, without seeing it first. This is a classic sign that the puppy has come from a puppy farm, as the breeder does not want buyers to see the state of the pup or the conditions it was raised in.

Local authorities have a key role in taking action against puppy farmers, both through Trading Standards investigations and in animal welfare.

CEH270516_Page_09_Image_0004DOES YOUR COUNTY COUNCIL HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY?

The Herald asked each of the County Councils in our circulation area to tell our readers what they were doing to curb the puppy farm trade. We asked for details of any prosecutions and rogue breeders.

Ceredigion

Ceredigion County Council directed our enquiry to the Chief Veterinary Officer for the Welsh Government.

Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire County Council was a little more forthcoming: ‘All reports of potential unlicensed dog breeding are investigated and followed up and appropriate action taken. Several of these have resulted in licences being issued when appropriate and conditions allowed.

‘A very small number of unlicensed dog breeding resulted in offenders receiving an official caution.

‘There are currently four ongoing investigations’.

Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire County Council told us: ‘In 2015 Welsh Government brought in new legislation relating to the licensing of dog breeders in Wales.

Licensed breeders are required by law to:

• Have a staff to dog ratio of one full time attendant to not more than 20 dogs

• Submit enrichment and socialisation plans to local authorities

• Conform to statutory licensing requirements

• Have regard to specific guidance published by Welsh Ministers

Pembrokeshire County Council’s spokesperson continued: ‘The Council has always been proactive in trying ensure good standards are followed by licensed dog breeders.’

Three years ago it introduced a scheme that rewarded good licensed dog breeders with an Award scheme.

The scheme aims to recognise and encourage high standards at licensed premises and this year six out of 13 licensed breeders have achieved the Award.

Pembrokeshire County Council actively looks for people advertising puppies for sale on a regular basis and will investigate all complaints relating to the breeding of dogs.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services, Huw George, said he welcomed the stance taken by the new Chief Executive of the RSPCA who said the organisation would be ‘less adversarial’ under his leadership.

Councillor George added: “We also support the recommendation in the recent RSPCA Report on the Review of Responsible Dog Ownership. Commissioned by the Welsh Government, it calls for an annual dog registration fee scheme for Wales, to help fund sustainable dog welfare and control services.”

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Our responsibility to follow the new Wales coronavirus measures in order to Keep Ceredigion Safe

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The Welsh Government is bringing in new coronavirus measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.

To help further prevent the spread of coronavirus, new measures were announced by the First Minister which will come into force at 6pm on Thursday, September 24, 2020:

· Hospitality businesses in Wales will have to close at 10pm and provide table service only.

· All off-licences, including supermarkets, will have to stop selling alcohol at 10pm.

We are also being asked to think carefully about making journeys: only travel where it is essential to do so. The fewer people we meet and the fewer journeys we make, the safer we all are.

The Welsh Government have also introduced the following measures:

· A new £500 payment to support people on low incomes who are asked to self-isolate if they have coronavirus;

· Strengthened regulations to ensure employers support people who need to self-isolate.

The new measures are part of a package of co-ordinated actions to control the spread of coronavirus and it is essential that we all play our part in order to keep Ceredigion safe.

These new measures are to be introduced alongside those that are already in place:

· Keep a 2m social distance from each other when out and about.

· Wash your hands regularly.

· Wear a mask in indoor public places, shops and on public transport

· Only meet 6 people indoors from your extended household (not including children 11 and under).

· Do not meet with more than 30 people outdoors.

· Work from home, wherever possible.

· Think carefully about making journeys: only travel where you need to do so. The fewer people we meet and the fewer journeys we make, the safer we all are.

We need everyone to follow the rules and guidance and to take the steps to protect them and their loved ones.

Together, we can keep Ceredigion safe.

All the latest information and advice regarding the coronavirus can be found on Ceredigion County Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/Coronavirus. The Council’s Corporate Contact Centre number is 01545 570881.

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NHS COVID-19 app launches across Wales

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People are being urged to download the NHS COVID-19 app to help stop the spread of coronavirus and protect themselves and their loved ones as case numbers rise.

The app launches today [Thursday 24] after positive trials and will be a useful tool when used alongside Wales’ successful manual contact tracing system.

It will be available to those aged 16 and over, and forms a central part of the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.

The roll-out of the app in Wales coincides with a national campaign around how people in Wales can best support the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme, including only getting a test if they are showing symptoms; self-isolating when required; and working with local contact tracers if they are contacted.

Wales’ contact tracing system – which is a publicly-run service and locally delivered – is working well and has seen a very high contract and trace rate. Latest stats show 94% of cases are being successfully contacted.

The app works by logging the amount of time you spend near other app users, and the distance between you, so it can alert you if someone you have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if you don’t know each other.

The app will advise you to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable you to check symptoms, book a test if needed and get your test results.

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:

“The launch of the NHS COVID-19 app is an important part of Wales’ coronavirus response, supporting the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme. The more people who download and use this app, the more it will help us to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We have worked closely with the app development team to ensure it works seamlessly across Wales and England, providing people with the right advice based on where they live. In Wales, the app will complement our existing contact tracing and testing services and will further support our co-ordinated response to COVID-19 at both a local and national level.

“I strongly encourage everyone in Wales to download and use the app to keep Wales safe.”

The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus, not people and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy. The system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices via Bluetooth. These unique random IDs regenerate frequently to add an extra layer of security and preserve anonymity.

The app does not hold personal information such as your name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of your postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed.

Today the UK’s major mobile network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin, have confirmed that all in-app activity will not come out of customers’ data allowance.

In a joint statement Apple and Google said:

“We built the exposure notifications system to enable public health authorities in their efforts to develop apps to help reduce the spread of the virus while ensuring people can trust in the privacy-preserving design. We are committed to supporting the government’s effort to launch an app based on this technology.”

Whilst the app will be a major support for the contact tracing system, Welsh residents are being reminded to continue to keep Wales safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by:

• Always keeping a distance
• Washing hands regularly
• Working from home wherever possible
• Following local restrictions
• Following the rules about meeting people
• Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.

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Man jailed for revenge porn against teenage ex-girlfriend

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A ‘PREDATORY OFFENDER’ who targeted young girls online and shared indecent images of them on pornographic websites has been jailed for more than two years.

Robin Edwards Jones, formerly of Lampeter, came to police attention after tracking down his former girlfriend – a teenager 26 years his junior – and sending a threatening email containing indecent images of her to her boss a year after their relationship ended.

The 48-year-old then uploaded hundreds of images of the then 17-year-old to pornographic websites, creating a personal bio for each site that allowed her to be identified through her Facebook account.

Jones has been jailed following a two-year investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police, which saw the force’s digital crime unit prove he had supplied the websites with these images.

Officer in case Detective Sergeant Steve Barry said: “This was a thorough investigation into what has become known as revenge porn.

“Two other police forces were initially involved in the investigation before passing it to Dyfed Powys Police, and our investigation spanned two years, with the safeguarding of the teenage victim at its heart.

“What we were faced with initially was a suspect who was alleged to have circulated indecent images of a teenage girl with the intent of causing her distress following the break-up of a six month relationship.

“As the investigation progressed, it transpired that Jones was a predatory offender, targeting young children online to obtain indecent images of them for his sexual gratification and desire to control them.”

The offender and victim met online in November 2015, when Jones claimed he was 28 years old in an attempt to instigate a relationship with a teenage girl.

Over the following six months, the victim sent a number of indecent images of herself to the offender on his request. He also created his own images from intimate video chats, increasing the library of images for his use.

The relationship ended in April 2016 when the teenager’s father became aware of the situation and notified the police.

There was no contact between the pair for 12 months after they separated.

DS Barry said: “It wasn’t until the following April when the victim started a new job, that Jones tracked her down and began his campaign against her.

“He set up an email account under a false name and sent the victim’s employer eight indecent images that she had taken during their relationship in a bid to get her fired from her job.

“Around the same time, the victim received a message asking if she was aware that these photos had been uploaded to a pornographic website – for a young girl, this was extremely traumatic.”

Enquiries linked the email account to Jones’s home address, and a warrant was carried out with the support of Dyfed-Powys Police’s Digital Communications and Cybercrime Unit.

A number of digital devices were seized and the suspect was interviewed in relation to the offences, strongly denying any wrongdoing – a position he maintained throughout the investigation.

“In the meantime, the victim received two messages on Facebook asking if images on another website were of her,” DS Barry said.

“She believed it was Jones further taunting her, but enquires revealed it was a man who had identified her through a false profile and hoped to start a sexual relationship.

“Applications were made to the sites to ensure these images were removed swiftly, to prevent further distress to the victim.”

As digital investigators analysed a computer belonging to Jones, they discovered he was also in contact with a 14-year-old American girl, with sexual messages exchanged between the pair.

“Evidence from the computers seized showed that Jones began his relationship with a girl in the US when she was just 12 years old,” DS Barry said.

“Contact was made through Interpol, but she and her family were unwilling to support our investigation.”

As the investigation was completed, officers found that Jones had more than 500 indecent images of the victims – 52 of which were the most serious classification – and that he had shared 162 private photos without consent of the victims.

He was charged with two counts of disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress; two counts of possessing indecent photographs of a child; and three counts of distributing indecent images of a child – with images spanning classes A, B and C.

Even with the weight of evidence against him, Jones maintained his innocence and opted for trial, however he admitted the offences on the day the trial began at Swansea Crown Court.

On September 17, he was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He must also register as a sex offender for 10 years, and was given a restraining order against contacting the victim.

DS Barry said: “This conviction was as a result of a team effort between forces and departments, but the effort and dedication from the digital cybercrime unit was outstanding and should be particularly commended.”

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