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WAG campaigner Ken retires

Well known and very much respected anti-puppy farming campaigner Ken McKie of Waterside Action Group (WAG) has retired. Ken is a championship show judge and owns Dalmatians and Tibetan spaniels.

Ken McKieWhen we last spoke to Ken shortly after the Pedigree Dogs Exposed programme had been broadcast, he was unhappy that the BBC had put people off buying well bred pedigree dogs from responsible breeders. As he said at the time, “This has been a disaster, all these years I have been trying to get people to buy a Kennel Club registered puppy and not buy from retail outlets or from puppy farmers and now people are telling me that I am wrong, as Kennel Club registered puppies are not healthy”. He added that the programme had pushed people towards buying from puppies from puppy farms and had undone all the educational work of WAG.
Ken was a founder member of Waterside Action Group. When in 2002, he and other members of the public who were concerned that a potential puppy farm was applying for a licence to operate attended East Ayrshire Council Licensing Committee meeting regarding an application made by Mr S Hamilton of Waterside Farm to keep a dog breeding and rearing establishment. This application was granted with conditions.


Liz Templeton who was a founding member of WAG and is now the groups secretary told Our Dogs, “I was with Ken at the first meeting re Stephen Hamilton when he said to me, ‘what are we going to do about this?’ I said I’ll book the hall you put the flyers out and thus the public meeting happened which started it all”. The first public meeting to highlight the issue and to gain support to stop the dog breeding and rearing establishment gaining credibility, as a properly run dog breeding kennel, was held in August 2008.

In 2003 Ken and the co founders of WAG, most of whom are still working hard to eliminate puppy farming with WAG, held an inaugural meeting on March 18th 2003. Ken was elected secretary and until he retired on the 30th November 2008 he has remained as secretary.

The Waterside Action Group as the group became known has always worked together, seeing an end to puppy farming at Waterside Farm, and by working with authorities locally and throughout UK on many related puppy farming issues and dog dealer cases, making an input to such documents as the new Animal Health & Welfare Act and they are determined to continue to do this until there is an end to all puppy farming.

Ken was an active participant in helping get John Walsh banned as reported in Our Dogs. Information given to Our Dogs by Ken led to contact with the Jersey RSPCA where Walsh was stopped from bringing puppy farmed dogs onto the island, and with the help of Jersey RSPCA and a Jersey dog lover it was discovered that Walsh had left a van in blazing heat with tiny puppies inside while he took the ferry to Jersey. The RSPCA was called by Jersey RSPCA and when a car park attendant found the vehicle the RSPCA were able to step in and Walsh was arrested, and eventually appeared in court.

Like the group and its supporters Ken has worked tirelessly to expose this vile trade. As Secretary he has had a very heavy load as spokesman and key contact man for the group. He has also travelled regularly, attending meetings and debates on the group’s behalf whilst corresponding with and listening to the reports of the endless horrendous cases the group deal with. Constant exposure to hearing such cases and constantly doing everything a person can to stop this trade takes its toll.

The fight continues

As Liz Templeton told us, “We have worked together, done stakeouts and more over the years and I am sorry he is away, but we have a good team and move forward. We do not intend to let go the contact with him and he says he will keep close to us. He needs a bit of space, this constant exposure is emotionally and physically draining”.

Ken has been a great strength in the fight against puppy farming and dog dealers, and while no longer having a leading role will no doubt carry on the fight. Liz Templeton summed up what many must be thinking, “He has been a great strength and encouragement to the cause and has been a great inspiration to not only the group but to the wider public”.

WAG will miss his input greatly, although he will probably continue to fight against puppy farming and may assist wag in the future. Meantime, WAG remains a strong and leading force that will never accept anything less than an end to the misery caused by the trading in innocent dogs and their puppies.