News channel highlights puppy farming horror
Five News last week lifted the lid on shocking conditions on some puppy farms operating in the UK.
Working undercover, Five News’ crime and investigations correspondent Jason Farrell uncovered shocking findings at puppy farms in Wales, where adult dogs are kept in conditions many breeders were appalled and shocked at. Even more shocking was the fact that these farms supply many well known pet stores, including the UK’s largest pet superstore – Dogs4us.
In the first of a two part report, the animals Jason filmed were seen caged, kept in darkened, cramped pens, with little bedding, no access to outside runs and in some cases not even fresh water. Five News presenter, and dog owner, Natasha Kaplinsky who introduced the report, said of the findings: ‘It’s absolutely shocking that this is going on. These dogs are trapped in an industry that sells adorable loving creatures but hides its ugly side - just a small amount of effort from people not to buy dogs from these breeders could lead to the end of such a cruel life for many, many animals.’
Five News visited Dogs4us, which has warehouse shops in Leeds and Manchester. Here the team saw cute puppies on display, photos of celebrity customers lining the walls and price tags reaching £900 a pup. But the one thing that was missing was any information about the breeders.
After investigating the supply chain themselves, Five News visited three puppy farms, all based in Carmarthenshire, which supply Dogs4us. The first was Maesbryn, and footage showed Jason Farrell explaining that the only light in the room came from the door he opened and that the dogs were kept in the dark to save electricity. The pens could be seen with little bedding and nothing to distract the dogs from the concrete walls surrounding them.
Jason went on to show viewers the conditions he found in the other two farms he visited undercover: ‘Veindre farm in Carmarthenshire is another supplier we traced to the pet shop,’ said Jason. ‘Here we gained footage of a Cocker Spaniel circling in utter frustration. These lively, intelligent animals need stimulation and exercise - both were clearly lacking on the farm, as was any clean water in their bowls. The third farm we visited, Llwynfallen farm, again was home to unhealthy, timid dogs living in squalid conditions with crates for beds and empty water bowls.’
While viewing the animals undercover at this last farm, Jason was offered a dog to take home - a seven-year-old female Bichon Frisé, who despite being cleaned up by the owners, still obviously had a urine stained coat and rotten teeth. Five News took the dog to TV vet and OUR DOGS columnust, Mark Abraham and also showed Mark the footage they had obtained so far.
Mark said the scenes were: ‘…the most horrific conditions I’ve ever seen animals kept in, there's just absolutely no care for these animals whatsoever, apart from to keep them alive just to get more puppies out of them, which is sick.’
After examining the dog, Mark noted numerous visible signs of neglect and an infected mammary gland that subsequently needed, and received, urgent medical treatment.
The owners of the farm provided the following statement to Five News: ‘We categorically deny that we have neglected any of our animals … or caused them to suffer any distress or ill health. The welfare of all of our animals is of paramount importance to us and all of our animals are regularly inspected to ensure that they are fit and healthy, if any animals require treatment, we ensure they receive the required treatment promptly and without delay. We have been breeding dogs for many years and at no stage have we received any complaints regarding the welfare of our animals. We are registered breeders and take our responsibilities as breeders very seriously.’
Dogs4us refused an interview but gave Five News the following statement: ‘As you are aware we are a licensed premises with the Local Authority and therefore, subject to announced and unannounced visits by them. We also have announced and unannounced visits from the RSPCA, of which both bodies are more than happy with our premises and the service we provide.
‘All the puppies we purchase are from registered breeders who are also licensed by the Local Authority who also carry out inspections of their premises. Licensed breeders have an annual inspection to obtain their licence. All our puppies are vet checked on the day of arrival and a (SIC) sold with a 6 month guarantee against any congenital defects no other breeder establishment gives a guarantee. We also give a seven day guarantee on any puppy which would cover a settling period. This guarantee covers against any dietary problems, etc. Again, this help and advice would not be available from anyone else, so to suggest that we could sell pups that are unwell and to give a guarantee is ludicrous. There is also a vet in daily attendance (again, this does not happen anywhere else).
‘We do not have any influence on what happens outside of our 6 month guarantee and we always advise our customers to consider Pet Insurance for their new pet to cover any eventuality that may possibly arise.
‘To conclude we have lots of happy customers that return to us again and again as they are delighted with the service we provide them which is unique. Our premises are open 7 days a week for public inspection, unlike breeders where you have to make an appointment to inspect.’
Five News also showed its footage to Carmarthenshire Council but, despite expressing concern, all the breeders are to keep their licences at the time of going to press.
In a more positive light, after watching the footage Dogs4us offered Five News the following statement: ‘Further to watching your report on Five News shown on 4th August 2009 Dogs 4 Us would never wish to be associated with any licensed breeders that are seen to be keeping their puppies under any inhumane conditions or distress as shown on your TV footage.
‘We found it appalling to watch these puppies subject to these conditions and can assure the public that we will not purchase or wish to be associated with breeders who are seen to contravene the terms of their local authority licensing procedures.
‘We do periodic checks of breeding establishments from where we purchase and we are quite happy with the facilities and standards of these breeders. We Reiterate that all our pups are vet checked to ensure they are healthy, we apply stronghold, microchip them before sale and they all come with a six month congenital defect guarantee. We pride ourselves on our good reputation and our premises are open for public inspection 7 days per week.’
With thanks to Five News for additional reporting.
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