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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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Education

St. Michaels School celebrates excellent A-Level results

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St. Michael’s pupils with their A-Level results

ST. MICHAEL’S School, Llanelli, is extremely pleased to announce another year of successful A-Level results, with 80.2% of all grades awarded either an A* or A grade.

The vast majority of pupils have earned a place at their chosen university to study courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Economics.

This is the first year that traditional exams have resumed since the Covid-19 pandemic began with the majority of lessons in the first part of the A-Level being delivered online rather than in a classroom environment. This makes the results even more of an achievement considering the circumstances.

Headmaster Mr Benson Ferrari said: “We offer our sincere congratulations to our outgoing Year 13 class on the publication of their A-Level results, demonstrating that our pupils have worked so hard despite the challenges of returning to a conventional assessment approach.

“They approached the situation with resilience and dedication, which has resulted in grades that are truly representative of their ability.  I am confident that they will all go onto achieve great things at university and in their working lives.  

“We wish them the best as they move to this new and exciting stage of their education.  The preparation which St. Michael’s has provided will be built upon, along with our values and principles providing a lasting framework to tackle the challenges ahead.”

In 2020, St. Michael’s School was awarded The Sunday Times Welsh Independent School of the Decade and this was in part due to the excellent exam results that the school receives each year. 

St. Michael’s was also ranked 13th in The Times 2019 Co Ed League Table for UK Independent Schools, which was the last time that the results were published. The school hopes that this year’s results will continue to secure their place in the 2022 league table which will be published later this year.

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Police appeal following road traffic collision in Cwmystwyth

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DYFED-Powys Police have issued a statement following a road traffic collision on Saturday, August 13.

Officers attended a two vehicle road traffic collision which occurred about 6.40pm near Cwmystwyth, Aberystwyth.  

Dyfed-Powys Police said: “The two vehicles involved were a blue Triumph Tiger motorcycle and a black Ford Fiesta.

“The male rider of the motorcycle was taken to hospital with injuries not believed to be life threatening.

“Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police by calling 101. 

“If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

“Quote reference: DP-20220813-392.”

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Scheme to enhance the town of Tregaron for the National Eisteddfod

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THE REGENERATING Rural Towns scheme run by the Cynnal y Cardi LEADER programme has been supporting Tregaron Town Council with a series of marketing techniques and installations to promote and enhance Tregaron in preparation for the historic and cultural event, the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2022.

This work acted as a legacy to the National Eisteddfod at Tregaron following the influx of thousands of people to the town daily for the duration of the festival and subsequently to the surrounding rural communities and local sites of interest.

A wide range of installations could be seen in Tregaron during the Eisteddfod following town branding design work, which included a giant deckchair, lamp post flags, banners, bunting, tiered flower planters, benches & picnic tables, monument conservation improvements, and a prominent Tregaron sign overlooking the ‘Maes’. Many of these features will remain in place for the summer months and can be utilised by the town in the future. Further town development work is due to commence to maintain and enhance the attractiveness and vibrancy of the town.

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