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Protest planned at pet superstore



Dog breeders and owners shocked by conditions in one of two pet superstores, run by Dogs4U in Manchester and Leeds are planning a peaceful protest outside both superstores this weekend, (Saturday 11th October).

The superstores Dogs4U have been the topic of concern on internet forums and in the canine press before, but each time they have been able to carry on trading as legally there is little concerned dog lovers can do to stop what is, in reality, a legal trade.

The planned protest came following a breeder of Shih Tzus visiting relatives in Leeds. On a visit to the store with her niece, Sue Lockwood was so upset by the condition of the puppies she saw there that on returning home, she decided to do something: “I thought I’d seen it all. I went to Leeds to my sister’s and my niece wanted to go to a new pet ‘superstore’ in Bramley. She had said they sold pups, but I said I thought it was illegal to sell dogs in stores. Well it obviously isn’t. Big mistake going there. There were Westies, Rottweilers, Tibetan Terriers, Scottish Terriers, Spitz Mittel, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, St Bernards, Yorkies, Bichon, Malamutes, Boxers, Schnauzers, Lhasa Apso, probably others, and of course Shih Tzus, upwards of 15 pups of varying ages (all very young).

“I cannot tell you my horror at the conditions. It’s a brand new building, all in glass fronted kennel things. A smattering of wood shavings were on the tiles and a plastic crate with no bedding. That’s how they are all housed. Worse was the condition of some of the pups’.
Sue went on to describe the condition of the pups, many of whom she described as ‘emaciated.’

Complaints

Having asked questions of the staff on the shop floor, Sue told Our Dogs that staff members went off and returned “mob handed”. Photographs were not allowed, so Sue left the store. Around the corner from the store was an RSPCA shop manned by volunteers, which Sue called into. She told the staff what she had seen at Dogs4U and was told by the staff that they regularly got people coming into the shop complaining about Dogs4Us.

Sue decided then to complain to the Dogs Trust (previously known as the NCDL). They told Sue to contact the RSPCA. As Sue commented in her email to a friend later in the day: “And round and round it goes. I cannot believe this is allowed to go on. I’m crying now because I’m so helpless. It breaks my heart for all those poor little souls. What the hell can you do?”

Neither Su,e nor her friend Maggie Flack, was prepared to leave it that, and posting on internet forums and making lots of telephone calls they have organised a protest with the help of members of the Shih Tzu Rescue and breed club. Contacting the various breed clubs and posting on the clubs forums has brought forth a lot of interest from other dog lovers willing to be a part of this campaign to finally stop puppies being sold through pet shops. The event is well organised, as Maggie said, “It has been a busy few days, contacting the police to tell them about the planned demonstration, to organise a petition to be signed at each of the two stores and to contact as many dog lovers and dog breeders as possible to come along and support us.”

Unconcerned

Sue’s sister has been in touch with the RSPCA. They visited Dogs4U, and an inspector later left a message to say he was not unduly concerned about the pups apart from a Spaniel, which he ‘had a word with them’ about. Sue commented, “So obviously that is that. I’m wondering if the Dogs4U staff have moved the bassets and rotties because nothing could justify their condition. I just don’t get it. I’m not an hysterical type of person, I know underweight pups/ or dogs when I see them. Their levels of condition must be way, way different to ours. As I said no one could fail to notice some of those pups were very skinny. As Maggie and other breeders have said it needs stopping at source, no pups no shop”.

Maggie also discovered that the vet who deals with these stores has a practice based in Manchester. The vet, it is claimed, will inspect the pups and pass them as fit for sale. Sue was told that the puppies on sale were not KC registered but were all registered with the commercial Dog Lovers Register. Links have also been found between these stores and a dealer residing in Sunderland and banned puppy farmer located in Ayrshire, Scotland. The pups, many of whom are apparently shipped in from Ireland are being transported by dealers from breeding establishments, to the store. The members of the public who buy these pups do not get to see the mother with the pups which the KC recommends and they have no idea what these pups went through before arriving at the stores.

Everyone concerned with the protest is keen to show that dog breeders - and especially show exhibitors - care deeply about the welfare of all dogs not just their own. The protest will be covered by local pres, local radio and if all goes to plan there will be some national media interest represented there too.

To help those wanting to attend to find the organiser outside each of the stores the person to look out for at Manchester will be Gina and she will be wearing a name badge with her name and Shih Tzu rescue, and at Leeds it will be Janice with a name badge.

Maggie told Our Dogs, “Carol Mead is the lady who has organised the rescues bit in it. Also Alex and Christine Garry who have done enormous tasks to get this protest going. We are all meeting at 11am starting the picket at 11.30am, we need as many show exhibitors, breeders and dog lovers to come and support us. We have managed to get the local papers involved as well as the local radio stations and The Daily Mirror has expressed an interest in the story.

“I have informed them that we are asking all show people to help as this is happening in all breeds, and we need to stand together to be able to have our voices heard and perhaps go some way to stop this happening. There will be a petition to sign at each protest so that we can hand it in to the councils to ask that there licences are withdrawn”.

People wishing to take part in the protest are invited to attend, protestors are meeting at 11am and starting their protest at 11:30am