HARRODS, THE UK’S most famous department store, has been left red-faced after an undercover BBC investigation revealed that the store was using a West Wales puppy farm to stock its pet shop.
The investigation – screened on Monday’s 6 O’clock news - revealed that the farm near Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion had been breeding puppies without a licence to do so.
A veterinary nurse who visited the Windy Rise farm as part of the investigation described the conditions that the dogs were kept in at the time as "horrific".
Ceredigion council and the farm owners confirmed a licence has now been given.
BBC1’s Six O'clock news investigation was instigated following a tip-off from a former Harrods employee who said she was concerned at the large numbers of dogs being supplied to the store from Windy Rise Farm.
Secret filming taken by the BBC showed dogs living in unsuitable kennelling with concrete floors which were "damp, wet and smelly".
Catherine Gillie, a former veterinary nurse who now works as the Dogs Trust assistant field director, visited the farm as part of the investigation.
"Conditions inside this puppy farm were absolutely horrific," she said.
"Both puppies and their mothers displayed obvious signs of neglect, starved of affection and proper care, and were in kept in appalling conditions, with no proper bedding, no access to the outside world, and unable to even see over the top of their pens."
Owner of the farm, Wyn Thomas, sold undercover reporter Adrian Addison an eight-week-old Shih Tzu puppy for £250, even though he was unlicensed to do so.
An examination by a vet showed that the pup was dirty, suffering from skin complaints and was unused to human contact, having not been socialised.
Under the Breeding and Sale of Dogs Act 1999, a breeding licence is required for anyone breeding five or more litters a year for sale. Before the licence can be granted, a veterinary surgeon and a local authority officer must inspect the premises.
The Dogs Trust said it feared there was a multi-million pound illegal puppy farm industry across the UK.
Chief executive of the trust, Clarissa Baldwin, said: "Dogs Trust has been campaigning for many years to put an end to the appalling and inhumane practice of puppy farming.
"Sadly, the puppy farm shown is just one of many across the country. As this case highlights, puppy farms mean man's best friend is often treated merely as a breeding machine.
"Puppies bought from the adverts in local newspapers, or the pet shop on the high street, could so easily come from a puppy farm.
"Even a pedigree certificate or registration is not necessarily proof the puppy has been properly reared or bred."
Since the BBC investigation, Ceredigion council has issued the farm with a licence to breed and sell dogs.
As a result of the investigation into Windy Rise, Harrods has confirmed that they are no longer working with the breeder and have cancelled the farm’s contract to supply the store.