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Call for action against Irish puppy farms

A CONSORTIUM of animal welfare groups in Ireland have expressed their outrage at the Irish Government’s delay in implementing proposals to tackle illegal puppy farmers in Eire.

Just over a year ago, in response to the public outrage that followed raids on horrific puppy farms around the country, the then Minister for the Environment, Martin Cullen, convened a working group.

The working group was asked to provide recommendations on how to regulate this hidden industry and halt this miserable trade.

The working group met for six months, took 27 public submissions, and produced a comprehensive report in November 2005 containing clear proposals that could be enacted immediately, in time to prevent thousands of sickly pups from going on the international Christmas market.

The current Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, has delayed implementation of the report and has asked for further public consultation.

The National Stray Dog and Cat Forum met recently in Dublin. The Forum represents the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA), Irish Kennel Club (IKC), Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, Veterinary Ireland Companion Animal Society (VICAS), 25 other local animal welfare and rescue organisations, and representatives of nine county councils.

The forum agreed unanimously to issue a statement via Vet Peter A Wedderburn of the Brayvet Animal Hospital in Bray, County Wicklow. Mr Wedderburn detailed the contents of the statement:
‘We, the undersigned, agree in principle with the recommendations of the report of working group to review the management of dog breeding establishments. We urge the minister for the environment to proceed with implementation of its recommendations.

The Government needs to act immediately on the recommendations before further raids once again highlight our shameful position as Europe's 'puppy farm capital.’

Scotland-based anti-puppy farming lobby group WAG greeted the Forum’s stance, as many Irish-bred puppies are transported to the UK mainland via Scottish ports.

Ken McKie of WAG commented: ‘WAG is heartened with the stance taken recently by a Dublin Vet. It has long been a shame that Eire and Dogs have become associated as the Puppy Farm Capital of Europe. Many reputable breeders in Eire must be finding it difficult to sell their puppies owing to fears that these come from a Puppy Farm.

‘When the (Eire) Parliament set up the working party to look into this problem it was hoped that real solutions to this problem would be forthcoming, however it has been alleged that much of this process has been taken over by those it is to regulate. Of course the rich puppy farmer fears anything that will hit their pockets. It is a pity that they do not look to the welfare of dogs.’

Mr McKie added: ‘We welcome anyone who wishes to raise dialogue on the situation with puppy farms in the home of the puppy farmer’, adding that he felt that much of the posturing surrounding the attempts to improve the lot of animals in the trade was ‘window dressing’.

‘For a vet to speak out on this issue shows how bad things have become. We have long said that it is time for the politicians to act, especially those in the UK Parliaments!

‘After all, the problems that can arise out of puppy farms hits the taxpayer in his pocket and the animal lover in danger to their pets. Our own politicians should be acting and we ask - no, we demand - that the Government take issue with Eire and have the whole vile trade eradicated.’