CHANCEPIXIES ANIMAL WELFARE V NORTH KESTEVEN DISTRICT COUNCIL

Posted: May 10, 2017 in Diary

LEGAL CHALLENGE: That a commercial breeding establishment licensed for 200 breeding dogs CANNOT comply with the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (potentially setting a legal precedent).

PRESS RELEASE & CASE HISTORY – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 10TH MAY 2017

In April 2016, Chancepixies Animal Welfare are a small, independent charity registered in England and Wales, dedicated to preventing abandonment and neglect of animals in our country and reduce the need for rescue launched a legal challenge against North Kesteven District Council and its decision to licence a commercial dog breeding establishment for 200 breeding dogs.

The legal challenge in the form of Judicial Review was on the grounds that the decision to licence ‘interested party, Little Rascals’ did not take into consideration requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. In short, Chancepixies are challenging through the courts the legal requirement that all dogs, including dogs on commercial dog breeding establishments (puppy farms) be afforded the five freedoms of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and licensing authorities must take into account the full requirements of this act when assessing whether to licence an establishment for the purposes of breeding dogs.

Co-founder and Trustee Mrs Heidi Anderson says “Local authorities have control of dog breeding in their areas. They have the power to grant or refuse dog breeding licences and to set out conditions attached to licences. On 20 January 2016, North Kesteven District Council granted a license to a Lincolnshire puppy farm to keep 200 breeding bitches and 59 stud dogs, and in so doing they completely ignored the Animal Welfare Act 2006. We visited the establishment in 2013, the first year its licence allowed them to hold 200 breeding bitches. The puppies/litters on display were on clean wood-shavings and appeared outwardly healthy, but the sad truth is that this is not a suitable, natural environment for a domestic pet dog to live in; this was very much a farmyard environment. The premises is an old dairy farm; the buildings in use were designed to keep cattle. The public are not allowed access to the majority of the buildings, a small number of the 60 stud dogs were ‘on display’ (eight small males of various breeds in a small pen in the yard), [and] other than that there were no other adult dogs on view. The dogs are clearly not cared for, raised or treated as the domestic pets that they were designed for and are sold as, despite the basic rights of a suitable environment, ability to exhibit natural behaviour and to be free from suffering, pain or disease being protected under the AWA.”

If successful, this case will set a precedent by ensuring that all dogs used for the purposes of breeding are afforded the five freedoms of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and that councils will no longer be able to issue dog breeding licences to commercial dog breeding establishments (puppy farms) that currently operate outside the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

ROUND 1

On 25th April 2016, North Kesteven District Council submitted their response to the courts, which contained the admittance that ‘the license application needs to be considered afresh and a new inspection take place.’ Further contained within the council response was an accusation that Chancepixies did not have the standing to be able to launch such a case on the basis that ‘the small charity bringing the claim are not impacted by the claim and are based in Dover.’ This claim was strongly refuted by Chancepixies. North Kesteven District Council subsequently cancelled the existing dog breeding licence and reissued a new licence under new terms having corrected several mistakes.

Chancepixies challenged the re-determining of the dog breeding licence having already challenged North Kesteven District Council’s decision to grant a dog breeding licence to Little Rascals in January 2016.

On 28 June 2016, High Court judge Mr Justice Edis granted Chancepixies ‘Permission’ to challenge North Kesteven District Council having agreed that the flaws identified by the Chancepixies legal team in the licence granted by North Kesteven in January 2016 were arguable.

ROUND ONE TO CHANCEPIXIES ANIMAL WELFARE

INTERMEDIATE CHALLENGE

On 21st July 2016, Chancepixies appeared in court for a third time. The signs remained positive that North Kesteven District Council would concede the challenge to the January 2016 dog breeding licence.

On 5th September 2016, Chancepixies were rewarded with their first success – the Courts ruled that the dog breeding licences issued in 2016 by North Kesteven District Council were technically unlawful. The court hearing was vacated as all parties agreed to the quashing of the dog breeding licences issued in January 2016 and June 2016 respectively.

A sealed order was subsequently received granting North Kesteven District Council until 23.59 hours on 18th October 2016 to reach a decision on whether or not to grant a new licence to Little Rascals/Swindells Livestock Ltd/Key Lime Tree Ltd.

North Kesteven District Council were issued with a court order for legal costs.

ROUND 2

On 18th October 2016, North Kesteven District Council granted Little Racals a dog breeding licence for 200 breeding dogs.

On 1st December 2016, Chancepixies submitted a 30 page ‘Pre-Action’ protocol letter to North Kesteven District Council following the council’s decision to relicense Little Rascals for 200 breeding bitches. Chancepixies challenged the council’s decision on animal welfare grounds and the council were given 14 days to respond.

Following the anticipated North Kesteven District Council response to the Pre-Action protocol letter, Chancepixies filed a Permission Bundle to the Courts for Judicial Review number two against North Kesteven District Council just before Christmas 2016.

On 4th May 2017, the Honourable Mr Justice Collins – High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division – in the matter of an application for Judicial Review, granted permission to Chancepixies Animal Welfare to proceed with their case against North Kesteven District Council. The Honourable Mr Justice Collins observed that regards the question as to whether a Commercial Breeding Enterprise of the size of that run by Little Rascals can comply with the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is arguable that sufficient regard was not given in the decision to the requirements under the 2006 Act.

At the time of writing, despite being issued with a court order for costs during the September 2016 hearing, North Kesteven District Council have not complied with this order and costs remain outstanding.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT AND WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PUPPY FARM DOGS?

Chancepixies Animal Welfare and their team of highly regarded lawyers from Bindmans LLP (Salima Budhani) and Matrix Chambers (David Wolfe QC) have been granted legal permission to proceed with Judicial Review against North Kesteven District Council and ‘interested party’ Little Rascals.

If successful, this case could set a LEGAL PRECEDENT in terms of the way commercial dog breeding establishments are licensed and the protections afforded to dogs on those premises. In short, this LEGAL PRECEDENT could signify the end of battery farming of dogs (puppy farming). Thousands of dogs currently housed in puppy farms are afforded none of the protections under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and were councils legally obliged to give consideration to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 when granting a dog breeding licence, then many of these puppy farms would be refused a dog breeding licence.

So, what happens next …

Legal challenges of this nature are costly, and as a result Chancepixies Animal Welfare – a small independent charity based in Kent – must raise in the region of £50,000 as a matter of urgency. Not only will these funds cover legal costs, but they will protect this small charity should they lose their case.

Although this is a huge undertaking by a small, independent charity, Chancepixies refuse to give up when thousands of breeding dogs in the UK are enduring unimaginable suffering on licensed commercial breeding establishments because those responsible for licensing these establishments deem these dogs to be less important than those we share our homes with.

Chancepixies are the only organisation to have taken on this mammoth undertaking, and it’s only right and just that we all unite with them against a system that puts profit before welfare.

North Kesteven District Council stated in one of their many responses ‘This is not such a grave case …’. We beg to differ!

Contact Information:

Chancepixies Animal Welfare
T: 01304 204429 / 07881888560
E: enquiries@chancepixies.com / hmanderson79@gmail.com
http://www.chancepixies.com
Txt: PIXI35£10 to 70070
http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/chancepixies
PayPal: enquiries@chancepixies.com

Bindmans LLP was founded in 1974 by pre-eminent human rights and civil liberties lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC (Hon). Since then we have built a formidable reputation for our commitment to human rights and our ethical, creative and campaigning approach to legal issues. We often represent some of the most vulnerable people in society and champion cases which challenge the law.

For further information please contact:
Salima Budhani
Judicial Review and Public law
T: +44 (0)20 7833 4433
Bindmans Press Office
T: +44 (0)20 7833 4433

PRESS RELEASE & CASE HISTORY (PDF) – Chancepixies Press Release and Case History

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