AFTER YEARS of steady campaigning by anti-puppy farm activists, leading ferry operator P&O has imposed a limit on the number of dogs that may be carried by one person on its Irish Sea ferries.
In what has come to be seen as P&O’s standard approach to the issue, the company imposed its new rules without informing anyone of its intentions. The new rule was only discovered when Scottish dog exhibitor Ann McCluskey of Macanto Bernese Mountain Dogs and Poodles was travelling back to Troon, Scotland from the port of Larne, Ireland after attending the St Patrick’s’ Day Show last week with three of her dogs.
Ann told OUR DOGS: “When we drew up at the check-in the official asked what we had in the van and our Bernese bitch barked when she heard him speak. We said that we were carrying dogs so he asked me to turn off the engine and open up the van so he could see them. He was most interested in how they were carried and how many there were, but was pleased at our arrangements. We told him we were going to a dog show. After that, he allowed us to go on our way.”
Ann continues: “When we came back at Larne the check-in official asked how many dogs we had, we said we had three and told him what breeds. He replied: “You just make it under the limit, you are only allowed to carry a maximum of 4 dogs in a vehicle now on P&O. Any more and you have to report to the ministry of Agriculture.”
Ann noticed that the official turned back two vans the other day carrying greyhounds as they had more than four dogs in each van. But Ann’s next revelation shows where the new rules are intended to bite: “He also told us that he had turned away another van last week carrying 50 puppies! He also had a look at our arrangements and was pleased how our dogs were carried.
I told him I was pleased that they were doing something like that as we had been campaigning for it for a while, adds Ann. “I don’t know what the scenario is at Cairn Ryan, where all the protests have been but I was pleased with the arrangements at Troon and Larne. I have to say I did wonder what happened to the puppies.”
Ken McKie, Secretary of the anti-puppy farming group WAG was delighted at the news, and told OUR DOGS: “It was great news for WAG to learn that P&O were not allowing more than 4 dogs in one vehicle. This is a major breakthrough in the trade in puppies. At last common sense has prevailed. It has been a long and hard trek to have a company like P&O to make such a change.
We do not know if it was our efforts or that of other campaigners who have joined the protests; but it does not matter how this has come about just that it has. We will continue in our efforts to track the mass shipments of puppies from puppy farms in Ireland to the mainland UK.”
Mr McKie added that WAG would persevere to end all mass shipments of puppies to so called puppy farms and end the suffering caused to the puppies.
Although P&O’s decision is laudable, that fact that the company chose not to publicise its new rule could cause difficulties for law-abiding dog owners and exhibitors who might want to take more than four dogs, quite legitimately, to Ireland and back, and not be aware of the need for special Ministry documentation to allow them to do so.
Despite OUR DOGS leaving several messages with P&O’s press office early this week, no one from the company contacted us prior to this week’s issue going to press.