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Breeders unite in fight against puppy farms

Last weekend saw two well organised demonstrations take place outside well-known pet superstore DOGS4US, in both Manchester and Leeds.

Although the call to support the demonstrations went out a little late, the Leeds demonstration in particular had great support from dedicated dog breeders who were anxious to show their concerns regarding the source of puppies offered for sale.

Manchester protestConcerns had been raised recently by Shih Tzu owners, as reported in depth in last week’s OUR DOGS. As a result breeders began to contact each other and mobilise with much of the background work being done by Margaret Flack, pictured here at the Manchester demonstration. She and others actually travelled to both Manchester and Leeds and Maggie was quick to emphasise the support she has received from family and friends Carol, Alex, Christine, Garry, Richard and Janice who ‘were nearly arrested for standing up for what they think is right.’
At the Manchester branch of Dogs4us, OUR DOGS’ Vince Hogan attended and also visited the superstore which has in fact been operating on this site for nearly 40 years, under a number of names, and as Mayfield Kennels for much of that time.

Current owner Mr Ray McCadden was not on site at the time, but Mr Hogan was given access to the premises by Store Manager Colin Yarwood. The store was particularly busy, primarily with customers for the large shop which contained a massive range of well-known foods and products. Puppies were displayed in a separate section from the shop, all with prices and breed characteristics shown; of course none are Kennel Club registered but rather with the Dog Lovers’ Registration group.

Many families were looking at the puppies for sale and it was fairly obvious that they were not really aware of the option to buy direct from breeders, or of things like the Kennel Club guidelines for puppy purchases. The Kennel Club had issued a press statement supporting the demonstrations and copies were made available to people coming in and out of the store.
In fact, one of the problems with the recent BBC TV show produced by Jemima Harrison is that people are now being driven to superstores like this as pedigree dog breeders and the Kennel Club have been given such a bad name, unfairly, by these programme makers. Surely that could not have been the aim of the programme makers?

The hardy band of protesters collected a number of signatures at the gates and also distributed information to make people aware that there were alternative sources to obtain a puppy with advice and aftercare and follow-up from dedicated breeders.

They also discussed the problem with Bernard Lea, a local Councillor in Salford, and local MP Ian Stewart has also taken an interest.

Lively affair

Leeds by contrast was a much more lively affair with over 100 people and half a dozen police attending. There were arguments at the gates and the police videoed the crowd from a van. Margaret Flack’s daughter, 17-year-old Marileanne, was warned not to go near the premises and that she ‘was being watched’. Apparently the staff at the store felt threatened but with such a police presence it was perhaps an unfounded fear, especially when tea and biscuits were brought out to the police by the store’s staff!

A number of TV crews attended although it was not thought that Jemima Harrison was amongst the media.

Margaret Flack and her many supporters are rightly concerned about the sources of puppies sold in stores like this in the UK.

Mrs Flack says: ‘I have visited a puppy farm and what I saw ... well, how do you describe what happens there? No glossing over, these puppies are in pens waiting to be shipped, dried food thrown into them, bitches waiting to be mated all in other pens.

‘The mothers who are having pups in another and the mums with pups in box type beds with a bit of sawdust and shredded paper for bedding.

‘What they can’t sell, well you just hit it over the back of a head and what dies goes in the bin,’ added Mrs Flack.

Our Dogs MD signs petitionShe then went on to say: ‘I am concerned that many of these pups seem too thin and undernourished generally. Rotties in a cage very thin, a Weimaraner so thin you can count its ribs and it could hardly stand, a Shih Tzu lying on the floor in its own urine not looking or getting up as a stream of people walked by and kids banged on the window.

‘I was able to hold some of these pups and a coat can hide a multitude of sins and the puppies were thin, you could see the faults in the neglect that was obvious. No cameras are allowed of course.

‘I sat and listened as a Shih Tzu pup was being sold and the buyer was saying her friends had bought one a couple of weeks before that and how they lived in a shed. They were buying a boy so that when the bitches came into season they could have puppies... horrific, to listen to that when you think how much effort dedicated breeders put in, only to be castigated by the TV programme as breeding mutants or dogs with genetic defects.

‘I am also surprised that many of the food companies do not seem bothered about what is going on; business is business!

‘All good breeders should sign the petition calling for an end to the puppy farms and retail outlets that give them a market; give the Kennel Club the power that is needed and give the Kennel Club the chance to make a difference and then we might see a way forward for the future of dogs. After all you can’t even sell a goldfish at a fair but you can trade in dogs.’

Apparently more demonstrations are being planned and these will be covered in advance in OUR DOGS in print and on our website.

Ourdogs’ publisher, David Cavill, has added his own thoughts to the Pedigree Dogs exposed
tv programme.

You can see this by clicking this link