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    December 10th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust have welcomed the decision by Harrods to stop the sale of puppies in store, with the closure of its Pet Kingdom department.

    Both organisations have met jointly with representatives from Harrods over the last ten years to discuss the issue of canine welfare and the risks associated with buying puppies from pet shops, and see the move as a positive step in improving dog welfare. Harrods has now followed the example set by the majority of the pet trade in recent years in stopping the sale of puppies in shops.

    Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “We are thrilled that puppies will no longer be sold in Harrods and would very much like to see all stores which sell puppies follow suit, as the sale of dogs in pet shops can unfortunately encourage puppy farmers.”

    Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust Chief Executive, explained: “Whilst Dogs Trust warmly welcomes the news of the closure of the Harrods Pet Kingdom, it is a shame that the stated reasons for it were motivated by commercial interests and not animal welfare. A pet shop is not an appropriate environment in which to sell puppies and kittens and our supporters have long expressed their concern about the UK’s most famous department store selling pets.”

    Both the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust continue to lobby for a change in the law to prohibit the sale of dogs in pet shops, and see this, along with public education on dog ownership and how best to buy a dog, as the best way to protect the welfare of puppies being sold and bought. Responsible breeders will not sell their puppies through pet shops and instead insist that potential buyers see their puppies with their mothers and in their home environment; putting the puppy’s health and welfare first.

    Caroline continued: “The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust have for many years now expressed concern over the sale of puppies in Harrods.  Whilst Harrods has never sold puppies ‘over the counter’, ensuring that no one is simply allowed to buy a puppy on the spot, buying from any type of pet shop is something that we would never recommend as we would always advise that puppies are purchased direct from the breeder and seen with their mother at the breeder’s home.”

    Both the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust believe that a pet shop simply cannot offer the proper environment needed to home puppies, even on a temporary basis. They strongly advise that people avoid buying puppies from pet shops, as these are often outlets used by puppy farmers, who breed their dogs in poor conditions, leading to health and behavioural problems.  Those wishing to buy a puppy responsibly should consider going to a rescue organisation or visiting a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, who will be inspected by the Kennel Club, as a UKAS accredited inspection body, and who ensure that their pups are socialised and cared for in the best possible way.

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    November 18th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Ask many dog lovers in the UK if they’ve heard of puppy farming and a curious but amused smile usually follows as they imagine packs of tiny pups happily gamboling in grassy fields ‑ a bit like the idyllic scene at the end of 101 Dalmatians.

    When you enlighten them as to what puppy farming actually is, the smile is replaced by a look of horror and astonishment when they realise that in this so-called nation of animal lovers, the barbaric practice of commercially breeding dogs – often in their hundreds – in tiny cages or inside dark, airless barns and sheds is happening on a depressingly large scale. And if that wasn’t shameful enough, it is also legal and licensed by local authorities as well as being encouraged by those who represent the farming industry.

    C.A.R.I.A.D. was set up just over two years ago by Linda Goodman with the express aim of putting an end to the appalling battery breeding of dogs. ‘Cariad’ means love in Welsh, and the acronym stands for Care And Respect Includes All Dogs.

    C.A.R.I.A.D. is a small non-profit organisation with a big heart, and this Christmas it has set itself a huge task ‑ to reach the charts with a song specially written by singer-songwriter Mandy Woods.

    Aimed at educating the public about the reality of puppy farming, ‘Cariad at Christmas Time’ was recorded in October at Shabbey Road Studios in Caerphilly, and, like Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ back in the ’80s, it’s a multi-vocal recording. This time, however, instead of getting celebrities to sing the lyrics, C.A.R.I.A.D. decided to invite a number of smaller dog rescues and charities to put forward anyone among their staff and volunteers with a good singing voice and the confidence to go into a studio and sing their heart out.

    The response was phenomenal, and on October 5 a group of strangers, some local and others coming from as far afield as Lancashire, Suffolk and Wiltshire – and, by pure chance, all of them female – met up at the studio. Some had professional experience, others simply a love of singing and a commitment to the welfare of dogs. Al Steele, co-owner of Shabbey Road, did a magnificent job of instilling confidence in the group, arranging the vocal parts on the hoof and getting the very best out of everyone, regardless of their age or experience. He also produced the single, and the result is the CD that accompanies this message, that is set to receive worldwide radio airplay.

    The charity single will be available to purchase via download from the end of November, and the proceeds will be donated to the rescues and charities that helped make it possible, as well as to the C.A.R.I.A.D. campaign.

    More importantly, though, the song is aimed at exposing the horrors of puppy farming and persuading people not to buy a puppy at Christmas, especially if the mother of the puppy isn’t present. Better still would be to go to a reputable rescue in the New Year and save a life by adopting one of the thousands of dogs and puppies who are waiting patiently for someone to give them a new, loving home.

    The Charities
    All Creatures Great and Small
    Animal Rescue Cymru
    Friends Of Cardiff Dogs Home
    Four Paws Animal Rescue (South Wales)
    Friends Of The Animals RCT
    Hope Rescue
    Lizzie’s Barn
    Staffies in Pembrokeshire
    UK German Shepherd Rescue

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    September 12th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    The British Kennel Club have released a new video to coincide with their second annual Puppy Awareness Week (PAW).

    PAW aims to make sure that puppies live healthy, happy lives with suitable owners. Make sure that you get the right dog for your lifestyle and that you buy from a reputable breeder.

    Puppies from puppy farms are bred with no regard for their health and well-being and are kept in appalling, unsanitary conditions. Kennel Club research from 2013 shows that as many as one in three may have unknowingly bought from a puppy farm, after sourcing their puppy online, on social media, in pet shops or through free newspaper ads – outlets often used by puppy farmers. One in five pups bought online or in pet shops need long-term veterinary care or die before six months old.

    Make sure that you don’t buy from a puppy farmer, or from an ill-informed and unknowledgeable breeder, who has not taken all of the steps to give your puppy the best chance in life.

    There are 211 breeds of dog, and many crossbreeds, that all have very different needs. Pedigree dogs are bred to have predictable traits and characteristics and by doing research people can easily find the dog that is the best fit for them.

    You should also adhere to the following Dos and Don’ts, also supplied by the Kennel Club:

    Do

    • Always go to a reliable and reputable Kennel Club Assured Breeder.
    • Ask to see the puppy’s mother.
    • See the puppy in its breeding environment and ask to look at the kennelling conditions if they were not raised within the breeder’s house. If you suspect the conditions are not right, then do not buy the puppy.
    • Ask to see the relevant health test certificates for the puppy’s parents
    • Be prepared to be put on a waiting list – a healthy puppy is well-worth waiting for.
    • Ask if you can return the puppy if things don’t work out. Responsible and reputable breeders will always say yes.
    • Be suspicious of a breeder selling several different breeds, unless you are sure of their credentials.
    • Consider alternatives to buying a puppy like getting a rescue dog or pup. Click here to find a breed rescue puppy.
    • Report your concerns to the relevant authority if you suspect the breeder is a puppy farmer

    Don’t

    • Buy a puppy from a pet shop.
    • Pick your puppy up from a ‘neutral location’ such as a car park or motorway service station.
    • Buy a puppy because you feel like you’re rescuing it. You’ll only be making space available for another poorly pup to fill and condemning further puppies to a miserable life

    Tell the relevant authorities

    Local Councils, animal health officers and the police have the power to enforce the law. If you suspect somebody is a puppy farmer report them to the RSPCA, the police, or your Local Authority.

    If somebody who you also suspect of being a puppy farmer, is registering their dogs with the Kennel Club, then ensure that you tell the Kennel Club about your suspicions. The Kennel Club would never knowingly register puppies from a puppy farmer and will tell the relevant authorities to try and ensure that the person is brought to book.

    (Just yesterday, 2 puppy farmers pleaded guilty to 11 charges of animal cruelty in Bury after they were caught out by an undercover journalist. If you know a puppy farmer, tell someone!)

    Opt for a puppy from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder or rescue centre

    The Kennel Club strongly advises puppy buyers to go to a member of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, the UK’s only scheme for breeders that sets strict rules for and checks the quality of its members. The Kennel Club has independent United Kingdom Accreditation Services (UKAS) accreditation to certify breeders under the rules of this scheme. Those looking for a rescue dog can use the Kennel Club Rescue Dog Directory to find a Breed Rescue or another rescue home.

    Please, help us spread the word

    We can only stop puppy farmers if puppy buyers know to avoid them – before they buy, not once it is too late. If you know prospective puppy buyers tell them about this campaign to make sure that they make the right choices.

    Sign the Petition

    So far, over 71,500 people have signed this government e-petiton calling for a ban on the sale of young pups without their mothers present. If you’re not already one of them, what are you waiting for? If it reaches 100K, the issue of puppy farms and responsible dog breeding will be debated in Parliament.

    Together, with the right action and education, we can end puppy farming.

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    September 8th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    If our Twitter feed is anything to judge by, Pup Aid 2013 (which took place yesterday at London’s Primrose Hill) was a huge success. This is obviously a cause which has a huge amount of support, from both celebrities and the general public. At the time of writing, almost 70,000 people had signed Pup Aid’s government petition to ban the sale of young puppies and kittens without their mothers present.

    Hopefully the event will generate even more interest for the petition and we will see it debated in Parliament soon. The UK government doesn’t seem to be taking this problem seriously, but we can change their mindset if we all work together.

    The aim of the Puppy Awareness Week campaign is also to educate the puppy buying public of the better ways to acquire their next companion, either from a responsible breeder or rescue centre. Puppy farmers rely on ignorant people to make their money; if we keep spreading the word and getting the message out there we can all be part of the solution to this terrible animal welfare problem.

    Here’s some of the coverage Pup Aid has received in the major papers so far:

    Thousands of pet dogs start life in cramped, disease ridden puppy farms – The Sun

    Celebrities show their support for their four-legged friends at dog charity event – Daily Mirror

    Celebrities shows their softer sides at animal charity event – Daily Mail

    Do let us know if there are any we missed – or if your blog covered the event and would like a link.

    Pup Aid may be over, but Puppy Awareness Week goes on. We’ll continue to tweet and blog about this topic all week – stay tuned.

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    September 3rd, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    A new study released by the British Kennel Club this week has revealed that 20% of puppies acquired over social media sites or via the internet die before they reach 6 months of age.  They also revealed the shocking figure that, despite years of campaigning, one in three people buy dogs online, in pet stores or via newspaper adverts – outlets often used by puppy farmers. This problem is likely to grow, they say, as the younger generation favour mail order pups, and breeders of fashionable crossbreeds flout responsible steps.

    The research is released in conjunction with their new online video, which aims to promote responsible and sensible ways to acquire happy, healthy pups and prevent a welfare crisis.  They are also promoting their second annual “PAW – Puppy Awareness Week“, which starts on 7th September at PupAid in London.

    The full press release is below:

    We are sleepwalking into a dog welfare and consumer crisis the Kennel Club warns, as new research shows that more and more people are buying their pups online or through pet shops, outlets often used by cruel puppy farmers, and are paying the price with their pups requiring long-term veterinary treatment or dying before six months old.

    The Kennel Club’s Puppy Awareness Week research shows that as many as one in three may have bought from a puppy farm after sourcing their puppy from the internet, social media, pet shops or newspaper ads – all outlets that are often used by puppy farmers. This has increased from one in five last year. Puppy farmers breed dogs purely for profit, without taking any of the responsible steps that they should to protect the breeding dogs’ and puppies’ health and welfare.

    The increasing popularity of online pups is a particular concern. Of those who source their puppies online, half are going on to buy ‘mail order pups’ directly over the internet.

    The research found that:

    • One third of people who bought their puppy online, over social media or in pet shops failed to experience ‘overall good health’.
    • Almost one in five puppies bought via social media or the internet die before six months old.
    • 12 percent of puppies bought online or on social media end up with serious health problems that require expensive on-going veterinary treatment from a young age.
    • 94 percent of puppies bought direct from a breeder were reported as having good overall health.

    Furthermore, only half of people who bought their pups online or via social media said their puppy had shown no behavioural problems. This is a big problem in puppy farmed pups, which can display itself through unsociability around other dogs or people, fear of their surroundings or aggressiveness.

    There is currently very little regulation over dog breeders in the country so the Kennel Club established the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme in 2004, which now has UKAS recognition, to ensure that its members always follow responsible steps when breeding and selling puppies. However, the research has revealed that too many people are still going to unscrupulous breeders with:

    • One third of people failing to see the puppy with its mum
    • More than half not seeing the breeding environment
    • 70 percent receive no contract of sale
    • 82 percent were not offered post sales advice
    • 69 percent did not see any relevant health certificates for the puppy’s parents, which indicate the likely health of the puppy.

    These are all steps that Kennel Club Assured Breeders must take.

    Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “More and more people are buying puppies from sources, such as the internet, which are often used by puppy farmers. Whilst there is nothing wrong with initially finding a puppy online, it is essential to then see the breeder and ensure that they are doing all of the right things. This research clearly shows that too many people are failing to do this, and the consequences can be seen in the shocking number of puppies that are becoming sick or dying. We have an extremely serious consumer protection and puppy welfare crisis on our hands.

    “We urge people to always buy a puppy from a member of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, who are the only breeders in the country whose membership is based upon their ability to show that the health and welfare of their pups comes first and foremost.”

    Worryingly, the research reveals that the problem is likely to get worse as mail order pups bought over the internet are the second most common way for the younger generation of 18-24 year olds to buy a puppy (31 percent buy in this way).

    The research also found that the owners of cross and mixed breeds are less likely to see the puppy with the mum and where it was born, with half not seeing the mum and 72 percent not seeing its home environment, leading to concern that unscrupulous breeders are cashing in on the fashion for dogs such as the Labradoodle and the Puggle.

    Marc Abraham, TV Vet and founder of the Pup Aid event taking place on the first day of Puppy Awareness Week on 7 September, said: “Sadly, if the ‘buy it now’ culture persists then this horrific situation will only get worse. There is nothing wrong with sourcing a puppy online but people need to be aware of what they should then expect from the breeder. For example, you should not buy a car without getting its service history and seeing it at its registered address, so you certainly shouldn’t buy a puppy without the correct paperwork and health certificates and without seeing where it was bred. However, too many people are opting to buy directly from third parties such as the internet, pet shops, or from puppy dealers, where you cannot possibly know how or where the puppy was raised.”

    Not only are people buying sickly puppies but many people are being scammed into paying money for puppies that don’t exist, as the research showed that seven percent of those who buy online were scammed in this way.

    The Kennel Club has launched an online video and has a Find A Puppy app, to show the do’s and don’ts of buying a puppy. View the video at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/paw.

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    June 18th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    The President of the British Veterinary Association has highlighted the value of veterinary surgeons at the Association’s annual Scottish dinner, hosted in the Scottish Parliament by John Scott MSP.

    At the dinner, attended by Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP, parliamentarians, key representatives of animal health and welfare organisations and the agri-food industry, and senior members of the veterinary profession, BVA President Peter Jones called for, among other things, action to tackle internet sales of pet animals.

    Mr Jones welcomed the review of the legislation and called on all parts of the UK to work together to tackle the problems associated with the online sale of pet animals. He said:

    “We were very pleased to learn that the Government has started talks on pet vending legislation. It’s been a long time coming; the need for reform was highlighted during the consultation on the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act back in 2004. But we’re very pleased that it is back on the agenda now and I’d like to thank the Cross Party Group for its efforts in making sure that happened.

    “The explosion of internet shopping has resulted in a culture that says ‘I want this now and I can have it’. But when it comes to our pets, I’m afraid that’s just not acceptable.

    “We want to see codes of conduct for these websites enforced across the UK and endorsed by the four administrations. And we also need a huge public awareness campaign with all of us – vets, charities, and government working together to give a consistent message to potential animal owners.”

    The full text of Peter Jones’s speech also included comment on: Scotland’s research capabilities; responsible use of antimicrobials and anthelmintics; Schmallenberg virus; bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD); Johne’s disease; aquaculture; horse passport and the horsemeat scandal; health & safety on farms; the Domestic Violence Veterinary Initiative; dog control; microchipping of dogs; the Pet Advertising Advisory Group; and the AWF/RSPCA puppy contract.

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    June 14th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    The e-petition started by Marc Abraham, TV Vet and founder of anti-puppy farming awareness event PupAid, has received a response from the British Government.

    ‘Ban the sale of young puppies and kittens without their mothers being present’ reached over 31,400 signatures in its first month on the official UK Government petition site, prompting attention from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

    You can read their response, and add your support to the petition if you haven’t already done so, here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49528

    In a nutshell, it lists the legislation currently in place to cover dog breeders and dog breeding practices (The Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999, Animal Welfare Act 2006, and The Protection of Animals During Transport (EU Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005), if anyone was curious) and suggests that the current laws are sufficient to protect puppies from being born into puppy farms.

    It places the majority of the blame for the existence of these establishments on local authorities, who they claim are the ones responsible for policing licensed breeding premises.

    With regards to ‘hobby breeders’ (those “who are not in the business of breeding and selling dogs but who breed occasionally”) they merely cite the shameful fact that the maximum penalty for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal is “a fine of £20,000 or six months imprisonment, or both”.

    They end with the spectacularly unhelpful statement that “If anyone has concerns about the welfare of dogs at a particular breeding establishment, they should report the matter to the relevant local authority, or the RSPCA who can investigate any such complaints.”

    We here at Dogs In The News would like to take this opportunity to respond to their pathetic response!

    1)    Yes, legislation regarding dog breeding currently exists.  Sadly, so too do puppy farms.

    Trust us, we trawl the heartbreaking headlines every day; the stories from vets, rescue organisations, campaigners and the owners of these unfortunate pups speak for themselves. If you don’t believe us, follow our Twitter feed – you won’t be able to continue to deny their existence once you see how often they and their victims make it into the media.

    We can only conclude that the current legislation is nowhere near good enough, and urgently needs reform. Rules also need to be enforced, not just given lip service.

    2)    a) You assume that all people who breed dogs do so within the law – ie that they hold breeding licences and are subject to council requirements and regular inspections. Who is inspecting the unlicensed premises, of which, we can assure you, there are many? (Also, see below for a clarification of the difference between a puppy farmer and a hobby breeder.)

    b) Even those who do breed within the law may be able flaunt it much more easily than you realise. Local Council resources are already stretched to the limit and only look to become more so in the future as Government-imposed austerity measures cut deeper. Many Councils find it difficult, if not almost impossible, to maintain records on everyone who holds a breeding license with them, let alone inspect their premises and practices regularly and police complaints made about them.

    c) As with most things deferred to a local authority, you will find a wide variance in the quality and efficiency of the service provided, depending on geography and the affluence of the particular area. We believe there needs to be a national service for regulating, monitoring and policing dog breeders going forward.

    The good news is that, from April 2016, there will be an excellent provision put in place to assist with this: the introduction of compulsory microchipping for puppies. If each pup is to be given a unique identifier and registered on a national database by its breeder (as the current proposals indicate), we will then have, as a by-product, a national register of everyone who is breeding and selling puppies.  The potential for this to be used to identify and stop puppy farmers is excellent, assuming that the Government cracks down on people who attempt to operate outwith or get around the system.

    3)    a) A ‘hobby breeder’, ie someone who breeds a few dogs now and then (either by accident or on purpose) and so does not require a commercial breeder’s licence, is very different to a puppy farmer, in the dog community’s opinion.

    While the hobby breeder may offend the pedigree dog elite and upset the knowledgeable puppy purchaser with lack of health testing and concern for inherited traits, they do not pose a great threat to animal welfare.

    A puppy farmer, on the other hand, is someone who breeds dogs indiscriminately, at high volumes, with little or no regard to the health and welfare of the mothers, fathers or puppies in their care. They breed their adult dogs solely for profit, and often keep them in deplorable conditions and dispose of them without care once they have outlived their usefulness as puppy machines. Use the words ‘battery farms’ or ‘factory farms’ in place of ‘puppy farms’ if you would rather; they are essentially the same things. These people see pups as commodities, and are in it for the money rather than for the love of dogs.

    b) The sorts of people who operate these establishments are most likely to do so outwith the law, or to find ways around the laws meant to stop people exactly like them! They are also the sort of crafty people who will find ways to keep the puppy buying public away from the truth: eg by selling pups via third parties, to pet stores or garden centres, or out of the backs of vans etc.

    That is why the crux of the petition is a focus on seeing the puppies with their mothers: if these buyers could see the mother, the state that she is in and the environment in which she gave birth, the puppy farmers would be out of business very quickly.

    c) You cite the Animal Welfare Act and its appallingly light penalties for those who cause suffering to animals. In our humble opinion anyone who knowingly causes suffering to a dog – a highly sentient and intelligent being, as science continues to remind us – either through wilful neglect or blatant abuse, should be banned from keeping animals for life. Pets are a privilege, not a right, and if someone has proven that they cannot take responsibility for their basic care (which includes family planning and maternity care!) then they should not be allowed to keep them any longer.

    4)    As for the statement that we should defer our concerns to the RSPCA, this is absurd! The RSPCA is a charitable organisation which does not receive any government funding. Why should they be responsible for policing dog breeders nationwide? Obviously, anyone who has concerns about specific incidences of animal cruelty (including reporting suspected puppy farmers) should contact the RSPCA in the first instance, and should continue to do so up until legislation is debated and reformed, but you cannot expect a charity to step up, rescue animals and prosecute in every individual case where the Government have failed in their duty of care. (See my comments on local authorities also, above.)

    To sum up, your response is extremely disappointing. You have essentially just listed the laws which currently exist and claim that they should mean that puppy farms cannot continue to operate.

    But they do, and all the signs indicate that the problem is only set to get worse. Take, for example the recent rise in pet thefts, which many authorities believe is linked to unscrupulous breeders.  The currents laws are clearly either not working or not being enforced and this needs to change.  This petition is not about blaming the government (either national or local) for its current shortcomings but acknowledging that more action and better safeguards are needed in the future.

    We, the educated dog loving community, will continue to sign and share this petition until it reaches 100,000 signatures and we can then see it properly addressed and debated in Parliament. In the meantime, we request that you stop burying your head in the sand, stop making excuses and stop passing the buck when it comes to these shameless establishments.

    One dog born into a puppy farm is one too many. Together we can change the situation, but the first step, as always, is admitting that there’s a problem.

    We’re sure our readers agree – the Governement’s response is just not good enough! We’ll be sharing some of your Twitter comments later, but do please leave a comment here as well. Let’s show our support for this very noble cause.

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