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Campaigners call for day of action

A NUMBER of anti-puppy farming campaign groups have united in a call for a Day Of Action to highlight the growing trade in puppies from farms in Wales and Ireland.

A Dog’s Life, Cruelty Exposed, Second Chance Animal Rescue (Midlands), Pembroke Animal Welfare, Waterside Action Group and the Pettsville Protesters have joined forces to name and shame the unscrupulous breeders, dealers, pet shop owners and transporters of puppies, all of whom lead enhanced lifestyles from the profits of mass produced puppies.

Pet shop licence holders take deliveries of sick puppies from the breeding hovels of Wales and Ireland to sell on to an unsuspecting public.

Moreen Davie, founder of the group A Dog’s Life told OUR DOGS: "The local authorities are failing in their duty to the taxpayer by refusing to implement current legislation when complaints are brought to their attention.

"Millions of leaflets and pamphlets are distributed by charities designed to educate the public on buying a puppy but it is clear that this has proved to be ineffective.

"Two demonstrations were held in May at Carnryan, Troon and Pembroke to protest against the transportation of puppies by P & O Ferries followed by another on June 6th at a receiving centre in Kent.

"Now we are calling for a national day of action on Saturday, June 26th, to tell people that this vile trade in animals must be stopped.

If people are as concerned as we are then please form a protest group outside any pet shop or dealer in your area.

A Dog’s Life started in 1999 as a spaying and neutering scheme, whereby Mo Davis and volunteers collected dogs from over populated estates, booking the vet’s appointment and returning the pet after the operation. Six months on, they realised this was not the answer to the stray dog problem they began to run a database on pet advertisements in trade journals.

"We held meetings with Trading Standards and newspaper groups about the trade in puppies, particularly from puppy farms and dealers" says Mo. "Freeads, Loot, Friday Ads refuse to co-operate with us although Trinity Mirror Group have listened to our complaints and now request a copy of breeding licenses from advertisers of puppies.We monitor the ads and if we have records of several dogs being sold from a particular phone number we alert the newspaper. Several unlicensed dealers and breeders have been suspended over the years. We analysed the ‘wanted’ column after the three years and found that of the 21 ads placed each week only three were by genuine prospective owners, the rest were breeders looking for cheap stock or dealers advertising the dogs for sale two weeks later. The worst one was an unlicensed breeder in Carmarthen asking for a toy poodle as a pet for ‘lots of cuddles etc.’. We had two numbers for her and she was constantly advertising stud dogs, and poodles of all colours, as well as Rotties and GSDs. Calls were made on the pretext of passing a pet to her on our being admitted to a nursing home. This is a despicable con as it could have been true and some unsuspecting elderly person could be parting with her pet thinking that it was going to a good home."

The group held a meeting in Cardiff two years ago attended by 20 other small rescues and organisations, followed by another in Hertfordshire in May attended by breed rescues and other interested parties. Ken McKie from the Waterside Action Group in Scotland (WAG) flew down to join the campaigners, who were hoping to form an Umbrella Group of associations against the puppy farmers.

It is an ongoing battle, and often soul-destroying. Mo relates on recent case: "We unearthed a puppy farm in the local vicinity which the BBC filmed and broadcast. I arranged for six calls per day to be made to the licensing officer of Cardiff and eventually forced them to prosecute this dealer. There were fifty dogs and countless puppies kept in horrific conditions and the place was described as a dog concentration camp. The RSPCA have refused to work with us and the dogs are still there. The court fined her £150 which was derisory as her pups are sold for £500 each."

A Dogs Life have staged two recent, high-profile demonstrations at Pembroke Dock on 31st May 2004 against the transport of puppies from Irish puppy farms into the UK and of Fosters Kennels at Yalding, Kent on 6th June, which take deliveries of Irish pups every week.

Pembroke protest

Mo Davie describes the events of the day: "We staged our second demo at this port on the same day that Waterside Action Group were at Troon. ITV and local reporters were in attendance and although the weather was far from clement we stayed for three to four hours.

"I tried to speak to the staff at the P & O office to ask if someone would make a statement to the press but was barred by a security officer, legs astride and arms akimbo. My request was refused. Although we had witnessed puppies being transferred from an Irish registered van to a UK van in a disused petrol station the security officer told us in no uncertain terms that it would be impossible to check every van disembarking on the assumption that one of them may be carrying animals. "What amazed us is that they do not have a copy of the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997. However, they do signal through NCDL and RSPCA vans as they are on a "mission of mercy" transporting dogs from Irish pounds.

"I also spoke to DEFRA at the Welsh Assembly who was unaware that such an order was required for domestic animals, promised to read it through and contact me. That was last month and I’ve heard nothing since."

Mo continues: "One dealer takes delivery of thousands of Irish and Welsh puppies, the vans call every week and the transporters are not in receipt of any Transportation Order under the 1997 Act. This place has been watched for months and we have a catalogue of complaints from people who have purchased puppies and been left heartbroken by the loss of their pets after one week of purchase through illness.

On 6th and 7th June protesters gathered outside the kennels with banners and stopped them trading for two days. I have a letter from the local council, signed by the Environmental Health Officer who states: ‘While selling sick puppies is an emotive subject it is not illegal’. Amazing!

"Some of the puppies are taken from a licensed Carmarthenshire breeder, which is obviously not inspected by Carmarthenshire Environmental Health Department, as the conditions are appalling.

"This is what we have to deal with, the complaints against pet shops, dealers and puppy farms are increasing by the day, is it any wonder that we are overrun with stray dogs and the veterinarians are making big bucks."

Mo remains philosophical about the uphill nature of the task she and her fellow campaigners face, but she makes it clear that the battle will go on. "I won’t give up," she says. "The dogs deserve far better than they get."

If you would like to learn more about A Dog’s Life and its work and also obtain information about the Day Of Action on Saturday, June 26th 2004, please contact: - adogslife@ntlworld.com