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Puppy website ‘condemned’

A WEBSITE promoting the sale of pedigree puppies has caused concern amongst responsible dog breeders, who claim that the site and others like it encourage the proliferation of backyard breeders and puppy farmers who sell popular ‘cash crop’ breeds with little or no thought for the dogs’ welfare.

The Epupz website contains hundreds of listings for puppies of every breed, some of which are sold for far higher prices than those at which a responsible breeder would sell puppies. A toy breed is being advertised as ‘tiny, but with a wide pelvis ideal for breeding’ at a staggering price of over £1,300, Pugs offered at £1,000 and Staffords for a staggering £1,000 plus. Conversely, breeds which have recently come under fire from councils and anti-dog factions can be picked up for less than £100, clearly making them easy targets for getting into the hands of the wrong owners. OUR DOGS has received a number of complaints from dog breeders and enthusiasts who have condemned the site.

OUR DOGS attempted to contact the Epupz website owner, Steven Harrison-Dix by email and asked him whether he felt the complaints were justified. At the time of going to press we had not received any reply; there is no telephone number given on the website, and the address given is a post office box number.

However, the Epupz web site publishes the following statement: ‘Our aim at Epupz is to create the safest place on the web to assist in puppies finding owners. You may think it strange that we say puppies finding owners instead of people finding puppies, the reason for that is puppies come first at Epupz.

‘In our aim to serve the puppies to their fullest we also list services, breeders and also serve information and help.

‘We run reports every day to ensure that Epupz stays a safe place for above all the puppies. As Epupz is a family site we also try our hardest to make it a safe place for families. If you wish for more information on the reports we run or the other safeguards we have in place please contact us by clicking here.

OUR DOGS contacted the Kennel Club, who have already had dealings with this particular web site; Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: "However someone makes contact with a breeder we would ALWAYS recommend that a puppy buyer visits the breeder to see the bitch and pups together.

‘We have had some dealings with this site and in fact they changed the way their information is displayed as a result – it was previously very misleading but they did listen and made alterations. Providing the site is used simply as a way of advertising puppies then it is no different to the Kennel Club’s own Puppy Sales Register or Our Dogs classified adverts – it depends entirely on how the breeder deals with potential customers once they have made contact.

‘We are always keen to ensure that if a claim is made that puppies are KC registered, this is in fact the case. It is not possible to check on every advertisement wherever it is placed but if we receive a specific complaint we will certainly look into it.’

Further surfing of the company’s website reveals that Epupz is apparently a trade name for Collusion Design UK Ltd., a web building company. Epupz web site makes strong claims about its ability to check for puppy farmers or dealers, as it states: "Epupz was created because when we were looking for a puppy we could not find any sites that did any sort of checking for known puppy farmers and dealers.

‘Over the years we have built a vast ‘blacklist’ database of poor breeders, puppy farmers and dealers. This database has been built from our work with the RSPCA, Trading Standards, Local Councils, Local Police forces, breeders, breed clubs, buyer feedback and a large amount of data given to us by other anti-puppy farming websites. Our system crosschecks all information with this database, from all contact information, names, adverts details through to IP addresses. Our systems constantly checks other information gathered about users on the site and their activities on the site. We don’t wish to go into the finer detail as it would simply aid someone to evade then system.’

OUR DOGS has only been made aware of this site by its readers recently, yet the site clearly boasts impressive contacts with more or less every organisation possible. Our readers have suggested it is almost impossible to run constant checks especially when the site claims to have 24,906 puppies available on the day we went to press (Tuesday November 13th).

OUR DOGS comments: ‘As a responsible newspaper we have always tried to follow Kennel Club guidelines on encouraging responsible breeding and puppy sales and at least we, and others like us, have readily published our address and telephone contact details. It is always a concern in this modern age when internet traders limit their contact details just to an email address or PO Box number, and have apparent difficulty spelling breeds correctly….Alsation (sic). Their advice panel also rather worryingly states: ‘This is only a guild and you must consult your vets or a breeder club to understand the full requirement of this breed and if this breed will be suitable for you, your family and your lifestyle.

This statement will not encourage anyone to think that those in charge of the site are in a position to offer advice or guidance. The site itself is free, although there is a special section where you can make ‘donations’ to the site owners.