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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TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE HISTORY FOR PUPPY FARM DOGS AND THEIR PUPPIES!

One of the counter arguments to banning the third party sales of puppies is that a ban is totally unenforceable because the illegal activity would be impossible to monitor and there aren’t enough resources to take action. We’re here to prove a ban is highly ENFORCEABLE.

Below are details of a number of cases where illegal/unlicensed pet shops and puppy dealers (third party sellers) have been successfully investigated and prosecuted. What this information shows is that not only is a third party ban highly enforceable, but that the authorities, the police and the RSPCA have a desire to investigate and enforce it.

WORD DOCUMENT: Unlicensed Illegal Pet Shop Prosecutions

PDF DOCUMENT: Unlicensed Illegal Pet Shop Prosecutions

Unlicensed Illegal Pet Shop Prosecutions

Counter this with the numerous investigations C.A.R.I.A.D. has undertaken, and continues to undertake into licensed pet shops and puppy dealers, and the fact that the authorities, the police and in some instances even the RSPCA have shown absolutely no will, desire or impetus to investigate let alone prosecute. Some such cases involve pet shop licence holders (third party sellers) Little Rascals, Richard Kendall, Peter Kendall, Stacey Hayward, Catwalk Pets, Willow Farm Kennels, to name but a few. What we have here is evidence that licensing legitimises the third party trade and protects those operating under it, whereas a ban would ensure that those operating illegally under a ban could easily be flushed out, investigated and prosecuted.

So when you hear that a ban won’t work, that there aren’t the resources to enforce such a ban and that licensing is the solution –  please refer these people/organisations to this blog.

AND NOW FOR THE SCIENCE BIT

Posted: March 29, 2017 in Diary

Not our usual sort of blog, but one that contains information that has been referenced in our animal welfare submissions and reports and which we hope you will find interesting.

Scientific studies have proven how detrimental puppy farming is on breeding dogs and on puppies sold away from their mothers in pet shops. Below are links to some really valuable sources of information on these subjects.

TITLE: Behavioral and psychological outcomes for dogs sold as puppies through pet stores and/or born in commercial breeding establishments: current knowledge and putative causes.

REFERENCE: Franklin D. McMillan, DVM, DACVIM;

OBJECTIVE: To study the behavioral and psychological outcomes for dogs sold as puppies through pet stores and/or born in commercial breeding establishments: current knowledge and putative causes.

LINK: http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878(17)30010-2/fulltext

RESULTS: RESULTS: Pet store–derived dogs received significantly less favorable scores than did breeder-obtained dogs on 12 of 14 of the behavioral variables measured; pet store dogs did not score more favorably than breeder dogs in any behavioral category. Compared with dogs obtained as puppies from non-commercial breeders, dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores had significantly greater aggression toward human family members, unfamiliar people, and other dogs; greater fear of other dogs and non-social stimuli; and greater separation-related problems and house soiling. Frank McMillan commented that the extent of the abnormalities in dogs sourced from large-scale breeders was a surprise. He said, “The problems span so many different types of behaviors, and the differences are rather extreme for some of the behaviours.”

The authors conclude that until the causes of the unfavourable differences detected in this group of dogs can be specifically identified and remedied, they cannot recommend that puppies be obtained from pet stores.

TITLE: Differences in behavioural characteristics between dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores and those obtained from non-commercial breeders.

REFERENCE: Franklin D. McMillan, DVM, DACVIM;  James A. Serpell, PhD;  Deborah L. Duffy, PhD;  Elmabrok Masaoud, PhD;  Ian R. Dohoo, DVM, PhD

OBJECTIVE: To compare the owner-reported prevalence of behavioral characteristics in dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores with that of dogs obtained as puppies from non-commercial breeders.

LINK: http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.242.10.1359

RESULTS: Pet store–derived dogs received significantly less favorable scores than did breeder-obtained dogs on 12 of 14 of the behavioral variables measured; pet store dogs did not score more favorably than breeder dogs in any behavioral category. Compared with dogs obtained as puppies from non-commercial breeders, dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores had significantly greater aggression toward human family members, unfamiliar people, and other dogs; greater fear of other dogs and non-social stimuli; and greater separation-related problems and house soiling. Frank McMillan commented that the extent of the abnormalities in dogs sourced from large-scale breeders was a surprise. He said, “The problems span so many different types of behaviors, and the differences are rather extreme for some of the behaviours.”

The authors conclude that until the causes of the unfavourable differences detected in this group of dogs can be specifically identified and remedied, they cannot recommend that puppies be obtained from pet stores.

TITLE: Mental health of dogs formerly used as ‘breeding stock’ in commercial breeding establishments.

REFERENCE: Franklin D. McMillan, Deborah L. Duffy, James A. Serpell

OBJECTIVE: Numerous anecdotal reports have suggested that after removal from CBEs many of the former breeding dogs display persistent behavioural and psychological abnormalities when compared with the general pet dog population. The purpose of this study was to determine if this anecdotal evidence could be confirmed empirically.

LINK: http://www.appliedanimalbehaviour.com/article/S0168-1591(11)00300-5/abstract

RESULTS: When compared with a convenience sample of pet dogs matched for breed, sex, age and neuter status, former CBE breeding dogs were reported as showing significantly higher rates of health problems (23.5% versus 16.6%, P = 0.026). With respect to behaviour, CBE dogs displayed significantly higher rates of fear (both social and nonsocial; ordinal GLM models, P < 0.001), house-soiling (P < 0.001), and compulsive staring (P < 0.005); and significantly lower rates of aggression (toward strangers and other dogs; P < 0.0001), trainability (P < 0.0001), chasing small animals (P < 0.0001), excitability (P < 0.0001), and energy (P < 0.0001).

By demonstrating that dogs maintained in these environments develop extreme and persistent fears and phobias, possible learning deficits as evidenced by lower trainability, and often show difficulty in coping successfully with normal existence, this study provides the first quantitative evidence that the conditions prevailing in CBEs are injurious to the mental health and welfare of dogs.

TITLE: Association between prospective owner viewing of the parents of a puppy and later referral for behavioural problems.

REFERENCE: C. Westgarth, BSc(Hons) PhD1, K. Reevell, BSc(Hons) MSc(CABC) KCAI CCAB1 and R. Barclay, BSc(Hons) MPhil CCAB2

OBJECTIVE: A case-control study was designed to test whether there is an association between the owners seeing the mother of a puppy, and later development of behavioural problems.

LINK: http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/170/20/517

RESULTS: After adjustment for confounding factors using multivariable logistic regression, case dogs were more likely to be younger than controls (P < 0.001); less likely to be obtained at six (OR = 0.27, 95 per cent CI = 0.09 to 0.85, P = 0.03), nine (OR = 0.22, 95 per cent CI = 0.06 to 0.80, P = 0.02) or 10 weeks (OR = 0.35, 95 per cent CI = 0.12 to 1.01, P = 0.05), than eight weeks; more likely for the owner to have seen only one parent (OR = 2.49, 95 per cent CI = 1.15 to 5.37, P = 0.02) than both parents, and more likely to have not seen either parent (OR = 3.82, 95 per cent CI = 1.12 to 12.97, P = 0.03) than both. Advice to ‘see the mother’ has been shown to be partly scientifically accurate in relation to future unwanted behavioural problems among dogs; in fact, it may be better for prospective owners to be recommended to view both parents.

TITLE: The Domestic Dog – Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People

REFERENCE: James Serpell (contributors – James Serpell, Juliet Clutton-Brock, Raymond Coppinger, Richard Schneider, M. B. Willis, Benjamin L. Hart, J. A. Jagoe, Chris Thorne, John W. S. Bradshaw, Helen M. R. Nott, Randall Lockwood, Roger A. Mugford, Valerie O’Farrell, Lynette A. Hart, Robert Hubrecht, D. W. Macdonald, G. M. Carr, L. Boitani, F. Francisci, P. Ciucci, G. Andreoli)

OBJECTIVE: This unique book seeks to expose the real dog beneath the popular stereotypes. Its purpose is to provide a comprehensive, state-of-the-art account of the domestic dog’s natural history and behaviour based on scientific and scholarly evidence rather than hearsay.

LINK: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/life-sciences/animal-behaviour/domestic-dog-its-evolution-behaviour-and-interactions-people

RESULTS: ‘… is not just for dog lovers but also for the curious. With enough detailed studies to interest specialists, this book is readable and stimulating. It ranges from the psychology of pets and their owners to the fascinating history of dogs’ domestication and diversification as a species.’ New Scientist

TITLE: Puppy socialisation and the prevention of behavioural problems.

REFERENCE: Irish Veterinary Journal 2010 Vol. 63 No. 10 pp. 630-633

OBJECTIVE: Establishing the importance of socialisation in ensuring a puppy is friendly and well-adjusted.

LINK: http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/20103297484.html

RESULTS: The most common cause of fear and aggression is lack of socialisation and behavioural problems often originate from fearful dogs. Indeed, behavioural issues are the most common cause of euthanasia in dogs under two years of age.

TITLE: Relationship between aggressive and avoidance behaviour by dogs and their experience in the first six months of life.

REFERENCE: Appleby, D., Bradshaw, J. and Casey, R

OBJECTIVE: To test behavioural signs for association with the dog’s maternal environment, the environment it experienced between three and six months of age, and the age at which it has been acquired.

LINK: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11376544_Relationship_between_aggressive_and_avoidance_behaviour_by_dogs_and_their_experience_in_the_first_six_months_of_life

RESULTS: Non-domestic maternal environments, and a lack of experience of urban environments between three and six months of age, were both significantly associated with aggression towards unfamiliar people and avoidance behaviour. Aggression during a veterinary examination was more likely in dogs from non-domestic maternal environments.

TITLE: Human directed aggression in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris): Occurrence in different contexts and risk factors.

REFERENCE: Rachel A. Casey, Bethany Loftus, Christine Bolster, Gemma J. Richards, Emily J. Blackwell. School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

OBJECTIVE: The consequence for dogs of showing aggression towards people is often euthanasia or relinquishment. Aggression is also a sign of compromised welfare in dogs, and a public health issue for people. The aims of this study were to estimate the numbers of dogs showing aggression to people in three contexts (unfamiliar people on entering, or outside the house, and family members); identify whether these co-occur, and investigate risk factors for aggression in each context using multivariable analyses.

LINK: http://www.appliedanimalbehaviour.com/article/S0168-1591(13)00292-X/abstract

RESULTS: These data suggest that although general characteristics of dogs and owners may be a factor at population level, it would be inappropriate to make assumptions about an individual animal’s risk of aggression to people based on characteristics such as breed.

TITLE: Prevalence of owner-reported behaviours in dogs separated from the litter at two different ages.

REFERENCE: Pierantoni L1, Albertini M, Pirrone F.

OBJECTIVE: The present study examined the prevalence of behaviours in dogs separated from the litter for adoption at different ages.

LINK: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21865608

RESULTS: These findings indicate that, compared with dogs that remained with their social group for 60 days, dogs that had been separated from the litter earlier were more likely to exhibit potentially problematic behaviours, especially if they came from a pet shop.

TITLE: Owner-Reported Aggressive Behavior Towards Familiar People May Be A More Prominent Occurrence in Pet Shop Traded Dogs.

REFERENCE: Federica Pirrone, Ludovica Pierantoni, Giovanni Quintavalle Pastorino, Mariangela Albertini

OBJECTIVE: There is longstanding recognition of the adverse effect of stressful experiences during early critical developmental periods and the later association with problematic behavioral issues in dogs. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the origin/source of puppies (pet shop vs. breeder) was associated with later potential problematic behaviors.

LINK: http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878(15)00197-5/abstract

RESULTS: The odds of displaying owner-directed aggression were significantly greater for the dogs that had been purchased from a pet store as puppies than those purchased from a breeder (control group). We also found an association between a dog’s pet store origin and other potential problem behaviors, including house soiling, body licking, and separation-related behavior, but this relationship was confounded by the effect of a set of owner-related factors. These findings indicate that obtaining puppies from pet stores may predispose them to potentially exhibit owner-directed aggression as adults. We suggest that further research in prevention of problem behaviors in adult dogs should be aimed at identifying the root causes of pet store-related behavioral issues, without ignoring confounding at a household level.

WORD VERSION: Supportive Evidence – Science Papers

PDF VERSION: Supportive Evidence – Science Papers

WHEN A DOG ISN’T FOR LIFE

Posted: March 28, 2017 in Diary

It’s hard to believe that it was way back in 1978 when “A dog is for life. Not just for Christmas” was born. Clarissa Baldwin OBE came up with the most famous slogan in the dog world for The National Canine Defence League (NCDL). In fact, this catchy slogan was so famous it was even entered into the Oxford English Dictionary of Quotations.

In October 2003, the NCDL changed its name to Dogs Trust and Ms Baldwin stated that reasons for the name change included: “… Defence has negative connotations, and league is just desperately old-fashioned.”

Of course, predicting the future is always a gamble but as the Dogs Trust’s then Chief Executive, Ms Baldwin said: “Change is always a difficult thing to manage but sometimes you have to do what you believe to be right and not what is easy.” How very true.

When the charity became Dogs Trust it stated that its mission was: “working towards the day when all dogs can enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction.” Certainly, nobody can argue that this is every dog lover’s ideal world scenario.

Fast forward to 2017 and Dogs Trust is now the largest dog welfare charity in the UK. The slogan remains in place 39 years on. But, despite its simple genius, it’s incredibly sad that today even Dogs Trust admit that it has failed to achieve its intended goal.

Today, the real world for dogs has changed unrecognisably.  Although we would all ideally like to see a time when the public can buy healthy happy puppies from healthy happy parents, the possibility of this happening is now further away from becoming a reality than at any time in history. Ironically, in part, due to the charity’s own recent actions.

There are thousands of dogs in the UK who will never “enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction” because of an industry that some of us call puppy farming. If “A dog is for life” was intended for the public moral conscience, then now it should surely extend to the life expectancy of dogs as well.

For breeding dogs in puppy farms, life limiting health conditions are the norm. Should they remain in puppy farms until they can no longer breed they can look forward to being ‘disposed of’ at the whim of their keeper. Some are relinquished to smaller rescues that are prepared to take the time and raise the money for their rehabilitation and are then adopted by kind and compassionate members of the public who understand their special needs. But for the majority, they are the ‘disappeared’. I’ve even seen a licensing inspection report that states the method of retirement for the establishment’s ex breeding dogs is ‘incinerator’.

For these legally exploited dogs no amount of licensing and regulation has or will ever help. They are nameless, unaccounted for victims of a greedy industry where corruption is rife.

The pictures with this blog are all that physically remains of five magnificent dogs who crossed the bridge too soon over the last seven years. Boomer, Cariad, Amy, Gwennie-bear and sadly Flora, passing so unexpectedly just a few weeks ago: Mast cell tumours, lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, alveolar carcinoma – just some of the evil diseases that claimed all my sweet, gentle friends – the youngest being just six years old. Like so many others, Flora’s life of freedom outside the licensed puppy farm that sold her puppies to licensed pet shops, lasted less than 3 years. So unfortunately, ‘A dog is for life’ is inconsequential to ex puppy farming breeding dogs who have been rescued, as well as the hundreds of thousands of nameless dogs who have died over the years in these establishments without ever knowing human kindness, let alone love.

Doggie montage (2)

Only when you’ve shared the pain and suffering of these exhausted and broken dogs can you truly understand the horrors that puppy farming inflicts on man’s best friend. You try to make up for the shameful neglect and abuse they are forced to endure so that the supply of puppies can meet public demand. But when they leave you – always too soon – you can’t help but feel cheated that what should have been the best years of their lives were stolen from them.

It’s hard to comprehend why ‘meeting public demand for puppies’ should ever be more important, more valuable and more passionately fought for, than the lives of the breeding dogs themselves. And yet for some it is.

A recent comment by Dogs Trust in The Independent stated: “The simple fact is that there are too few puppies to meet demand in the UK and as long as the supply of puppies from responsible breeders falls woefully short of meeting the demand, unscrupulous breeders will breed dogs for profit …”

There are a great many problems with this statement, but here are just three: 1) It isn’t a ‘simple fact’, 2) it appears that the supply of puppies to meet demand is the priority here and not the welfare of the breeding dogs producing them. And 3) if Dogs Trust ever want the supply of puppies to come from responsible breeders rather than being ‘woefully short of meeting the demand’, this will only happen if responsible breeders don’t have to compete with low welfare, high volume breeders continually churning out cheap puppies from dogs used as breeding machines.

The charity has also argued that a shortage of puppies could lead to pups becoming more expensive. But surely a good quality, healthy puppy should be something to strive for and if that means puppies become more expensive, that would be no bad thing. The fact that puppies can be bought so cheaply and in such high volumes, sold in a way that relegates them to being nothing more than goods and commodities, is exactly why so many people don’t value them as lifelong companions and sentient beings. In fact you could argue that to make ‘A dog for life’ a reality, this would be one of the most significant solutions to the problem.

Something else that has escaped the public’s attention is that because the gene pool of puppy farm breeding dogs is so poor, the puppies they give birth to are predisposed to being poor quality themselves and are unlikely to live to what is considered the average life expectancy of a dog – regardless of breed or cross breed. So again, the chance of the puppy buying public being able to even have a dog for life is diminished. And that’s just the physical health toll. The behavioural issues of puppies originating in puppy farms is a blog all in itself.

my girls

Failure to address the problem of poor welfare breeding and selling of puppies is like saying to the public, “you don’t deserve to have a healthy puppy or a long-lived healthy canine companion”. And as excellent as the charity’s Dog School concept is “to help thousands of dogs overcome training and behaviour problems”, it is like applying a band-aid to an arterial bleed.

The RSPCA, IFAW, the Mayhew and every other welfare charity – with the exception of Dogs Trust, The Blue Cross and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home – wholeheartedly agrees with the recent EFRA Committee’s strong recommendation for a ban. They understand that the puppy farming problem will continue to get worse while the third party selling channel, i.e. pet shops and dealers, continues to enable it. And as long as it does, whether bought at Christmas or any other time of year, a dog is unlikely to be for life.

It is regrettable that Dogs Trust have put the proposed ban on puppies being sold in pet shops in their ‘too hard’ file. Perhaps now would be a good time for their current CEO to revisit the wise words of his predecessor and remember that “sometimes you have to do what you believe to be right and not what is easy”.  After all, it was during Clarissa Baldwin’s reign that Dogs Trust itself campaigned for this very ban!

It’s sad to think back to 2003 when the NCDL changed its name because “Defence had negative connotations.” Never have the exploited dogs of this country needed Dogs Trust more than they do today – not only to defend them, but to fight for them and instead of vehemently opposing a ban on the selling of puppies away from their mothers in pet shops, to do the right thing for all dogs by admitting they got it wrong.

Linda Goodman

Founder – C.A.R.I.A.D. (Care And Respect Includes All Dogs)

Following the announcement that Neil Parish MP, Chairman of the EFRA Committee has secured a Commons Main Chamber debate this Thursday 30th March, 2017 at 11.30am, we are urging rescues – those who work day and night to save, rehabilitate and rehome the victims of the cruel puppy farm trade – to tell the Government their side of the story.

In order to reach them in time before the debate, emailing them is the preferred route.

These are the Defra Ministers responsible for animal welfare in the UK who need convincing that the third party selling of puppies i.e. in pet shops and by dealers is what enables puppy farming to flourish, and must be banned.

Andrea Leadsom – andrea.leadsom.mp@parliament.uk

Lord Gardiner – contactholmember@parliament.uk

In your email, please cc in the members of the EFRA Committee who undertook the inquiry into animal welfare and made such a strong recommendation to the Government to ban puppies in pet shops. They visited a puppy farm in Wales that sells puppies via pet shops and needed no further convincing that the trade must be banned.

Neil Parish – neil.parish.mp@parliament.uk
Chris Davies – chris.davies.mp@parliament.uk
Simon Hart – simon.hart.mp@parliament.uk
Dr Paul Monaghan – paul.monaghan.mp@parliament.uk
Ms Margaret Ritchie – margaret.ritchie.mp@parliament.uk
David Simpson – simpsond@parliament.uk
Angela Smith – officeofangelasmithmp@parliament.uk

Because we understand the pressures on your time, we have provided a template letter for your convenience. You can use this to base your email on and we suggest adding your own personal message to it.

As someone who understands the problem so well, please also write to your own MP urging them to attend Thursday’s debate and supporting the EFRA recommendation. You’ll find your MP’s contact details at the Find Your MP link, alternatively you can write to your MP via the automated Write To Them website.

RESCUE TEMPLATE LETTER (PLEASE COPY AND PASTE AND ADD YOUR OWN PERSONAL MESSAGE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES):

Dear

As a rescue that often takes in ex puppy farming breeding dogs, we see first hand how poorly so many of these dogs have been treated – whether they have come from licensed or unlicensed establishments – you would be hard-pressed to spot any difference.

Too often the condition that these dogs arrive in are heartbreaking. They require a great deal of time and patience because they are psychologically shut down and afraid. They also require costly veterinary treatment to either make them more comfortable or to alleviate health conditions that have been left untreated during their time as breeding dogs. We then need to find foster homes to take them in until they are well enough to be adopted by caring members of the public who understand their special needs.

Puppy farming is being enabled by the ability for these establishments to sell poorly bred puppies to the public via puppy dealers and pet shops. If puppy farmers had to sell directly to the public, they would never get away with housing breeding dogs in such terrible conditions.

The sale of puppies by licensed third parties including pet shops and by dealers in 2017 is unacceptable, as it has been scientifically proven to be detrimental to their physical and behavioural health – leading to long term problems for owners.  The third party trade is also the primary reason for the existence of cruel puppy farms – where dogs are produced as a cash crop with no thought for their wellbeing; again this link is indisputable. Retailing puppies through licensed pet shops reduces our most valued canine companions merely to the status of commodities, encourages irresponsible impulse purchasing and is impossible to regulate to an appropriate standard. This leaves animals and consumers vulnerable to unscrupulous sellers and simply cannot be justified on any grounds.

Equally, because these dogs are so often genetically challenged, they are producing high volumes of puppies that will inherit poor health and behaviour issues that will predispose those puppies to being surrendered to rescues or dumped in council pounds by members of the public who are unable or unwilling to keep them for life. It has become a viscious circle and one that is left to small, cash-poor rescues like ours to have to pick up the pieces.

I urge DEFRA to reconsider its previous decision to dismiss the calls from the EFRA Committee to ban the selling of dogs by third parties. We understand that a clause allowing rescues to continue adopting dogs and puppies to the public will overcome any obstacles for our rescue work and is very easy to write into the new legislation.

The situation is dire for the dogs and for rescues who are working so hard to help so many dogs today. It is a situation that only you have the power to change right now.

Yours sincerely,

Dear Sally de La Bedoyere,

When the EFRA Committee recommended banning the third party sale of dogs (legally licensed as pet shops, irrespective of premises) it was a hugely progressive step towards improving the welfare of potentially millions of dogs in the UK. Having considered all the evidence before them, the Committee recognised that the “process of selling through a third party seller has an unavoidable negative impact upon the welfare of puppies” and decided that it is “important that animal welfare standards are ensured across all breeders.”

You appear to be in agreement with the Committee, stating in the case study that supports your own investigation that “a pet shop environment is not a suitable one for pet dogs to spend their early weeks of life.” You also explain that “Pet shop pups often come from puppy farms” because “good breeders will not allow their puppies to be sold in pet shops”. Your advice to potential purchasers is “please don’t buy puppies from pet shops” and you warn them that “you risk buying a poorly bred and poorly socialised puppy who will struggle to cope with life.”

It is therefore not only sad, but deeply confusing as to why, despite your view that “We certainly at Blue Cross believe that puppies should not be sold in pet shops and we would advocate for a ban,” you have not advocated for a ban in your recommendations.

Disturbingly, it has become apparent that although your website tells ‘Scampi’s Story;’ describing the extensive rehabilitation of a “terrified former pet shop pup,” you have actually advised the Government against banning third party sales. This has come as something of a shock to pet owners in the UK, many of whom are your loyal supporters.

In a written question, Justin Tomlinson MP asked DEFRA “what the evidential basis was for the conclusion that a ban on third party sales of puppies would lead to the creation of an illegal market.” In response George Eustice, The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stated that “Evidence was also presented to the recent EFRA Committee inquiry by Blue Cross, and The Dogs Trust on the annual demand for puppies and the risks of applying such a ban.”

However, your evidence appears to be somewhat contradictory:

You claim that there may not be “enough ‘good’ breeders to meet the very high demand for puppies in the UK“. This directly conflicts with your comment in March 2016; “In the last five years, Blue Cross has seen a 44 per cent increase in the number of unwanted and abandoned puppies needing our help.”

You have also claimed that a ban on third party sales “would be impossible to enforce with local authority resources already stretched to their limits” yet your report states that “Some local authorities are making serious efforts in addressing unlicensed sellers” and that this has resulted in enforcement action.

Your recommendation for a registration and licensing system “for anyone breeding or selling animals through any means” implies you believe it is possible for overstretched local authorities to identify and enforce the requirements for registration/licensing across all pet sellers, but claim that a ban would “force third party selling underground.”

Justin Tomlinson asked “what the evidential basis was” and George Eustice told him “evidence was presented” – but the problem is that your evidence doesn’t seem to be consistent.

We have some questions to help us and the British public better understand Blue Cross’ position on third party sales of dogs and puppies and particularly, what evidence you have to prove that continuing to allow the commercial third-party sale of puppies away from their place of birth can ensure their welfare and that of their parents.

If Blue Cross “would like to see a total ban on pet shops selling puppies and kittens” and “would advocate for a ban,” why has this not been included in the recommendations?

Does Blue Cross believe that breeding dogs will be healthy and well cared for if the breeders allow their puppies to be sold in pet shops?

Why does Blue Cross feel it is necessary or desirable for “the very high demand for puppies” to be met, when it has seen a 44 per cent increase in the number of unwanted and abandoned puppies?

Will Blue Cross advise potential owners that licensed and inspected pet shops are appropriate sources from which to obtain a responsibly bred puppy?

In response to BBC Panorama’s 2016 documentary Britain’s Puppy Dealers Exposed, Blue Cross points out that this ‘nightmare trade’ is totally legal and asks “If you knew the mother of your puppy had been forced to bear several litters over several years, had likely never seen a vet, and the documents claiming she was healthy were probably falsified, would you put your money into this supply chain?” You say “No reasonable person would.”

Does Blue Cross believe that a system of licensing and inspections that has allowed this “vicious and inhuman trade” to remain “totally legal” is a more pragmatic solution than “a ban on this type of selling”?

In fact, rather than providing answers or assurances that your evidence invariably supports your conclusions, your alternating views on banning third party sales only serve to confuse and generate more questions.

We have put all our questions in these review documents.

Yours sincerely,

Julia Carr BSc (Hons), Founder Canine Action UK

https://cariadcampaign.blog/questions-for-blue-cross/

Dear Adrian Burder,

When the EFRA Committee recommended banning the third party sale of dogs (legally licensed as pet shops, irrespective of premises) it was a hugely progressive step towards improving the welfare of potentially millions of dogs in the UK. Having considered all the evidence before them, the Committee recognised that the “process of selling through a third party seller has an unavoidable negative impact upon the welfare of puppies” and decided that it is “important that animal welfare standards are ensured across all breeders.”

Interestingly the concept of a ban on the sale of puppies in pet shops is not a new one. And whilst you have referred to it as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction, it was in fact Dogs Trust that called for a ban in 2009 – highlighting the link between the battery farming of puppies and their sale through retail outlets.

It is therefore not only sad, but deeply confusing as to why you no longer campaign for a ban, but even more concerning is that now you believe preventing the sale of puppies through pet shops is not in the best interests of animal welfare and is a “knee-jerk response to the huge numbers of illegally imported and so-called puppy farmed dogs for sale in the UK”.

Disturbingly it has become apparent that based on this belief, Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has actually advised the Government against banning third party sales. This has come as something of a shock to dog lovers in the UK, many of whom are your loyal supporters.

In a written question, Justin Tomlinson MP asked DEFRA “what the evidential basis was for the conclusion that a ban on third party sales of puppies would lead to the creation of an illegal market.” In response George Eustice, The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stated that “Evidence was also presented to the recent EFRA Committee inquiry by Blue Cross, and The Dogs Trust on the annual demand for puppies and the risks of applying such a ban.”

In recently issued statements that aim to justify your position, you have used words such as ‘believe‘ and ‘fear’. Dogs Trust’s concerns about a ban appear to be based on assumptions about what ‘may‘ happen or what the consequences ‘could mean‘.

Justin Tomlinson asked “what the evidential basis was” and George Eustice told him “evidence was presented” – but the problem is that belief, fear and assumptions do not constitute evidence.

We have some questions to help us and the British public better understand Dogs Trust’s position on third party sales of dogs and puppies and particularly, what evidence you have to prove it is in the best interests of animal welfare to continue to allow the commercial third-party sale of puppies away from their place of birth.

Does Dogs Trust have evidence that pet shops can be suitable places for the sale of puppies?

Why does Dogs Trust believe it is possible to increase enforcement of a robust regime of licensing and inspection but not a ban on commercial third party puppy sales?

Your aversion to a ban appears to be primarily based on a view that it is necessary to satisfy the demand for puppies. “The simple fact is that there are too few puppies to meet demand in the UK.”

How can Dogs Trust claim there are too few puppies to meet demand when it has revealed that 37,000 dogs remain unclaimed in Council pounds and a “massive 54% increase in dogs handed over” to its rehoming centres over the Christmas period, of which over a third were puppies?

Does Dogs Trust have any suggestions for increasing the number of ‘responsible breeders’ or reducing demand?

Does Dogs Trust believe some purchasers will have no option but to buy a puppy from licensed third party sellers because there are not enough ‘responsible breeders’?

You advocate “a robust regime of licensing and inspection for breeders backed with increased enforcement of the law“.

Does Dogs Trust have evidence to show that the welfare of the dogs involved in the commercial puppy trade can be ensured if sold AWAY from their place of birth?

Can Dogs Trust provide specific examples where inspection and regulation has successfully improved the lives of dogs in commercial dog breeding establishments that supply puppies to third parties such as pet shops?

Does Dogs Trust still consider that seeing a puppy interacting with its mother is critical in having a puppy that is well socialised as it moves through its life and how would Dogs Trust ensure ‘transparency’ in third party sales if purchasers never see the puppy’s mother or assess the condition of the breeding establishment?

In fact, rather than providing answers or assurances that you have reached your conclusions on the basis of solid evidence, your statements aiming to explain your view on banning third party sales merely raise more questions.

Does Dogs Trust believe that continuing to allow puppies to be sold by commercial third party traders will mean that puppies are bought for life, not just for Christmas?

We have put all our questions in these review documents.

Yours sincerely,

Julia Carr BSc (Hons), Founder Canine Action UK

https://cariadcampaign.blog/questions-for-dogs-trust/

We are pleased to announce Neil Parish MP, Chairman of the EFRA Committee has secured a Commons Main Chamber debate this Thursday 30th March, 2017 at 11.30am. There are two vital animal welfare issues being debated:

1: Banning the sale of puppies via third parties
2: Increasing the maximum custodial sentence for animal cruelty

We are now calling on the public to write to their own MP urging them to attend this vital debate. Many MPs stated during the Pup Aid petition debate in September 2014 that they had received a record number of constituent emails – let’s ensure the same thing happens for this debate.

We have placed below a template letter for you to use. You can obtain your MP contact details at the Find Your MP link, alternatively you can write to your MP via the automated Write To Them website.

TEMPLATE LETTER (PLEASE COPY AND PASTE):

Dear (insert MP name)

As my representative in Westminster, I urge you to attend the debate in the Commons Main Chamber this Thursday 30th March, 2017 at 11.30am. There are two vital animal welfare issues being debated:

1: Banning the sale of puppies via third parties
2: Increasing the maximum custodial sentence for animal cruelty

Both of these recommendations from the EFRA Committee were recently dismissed by DEFRA which I find deeply disturbing and wholly unsatisfactory. I am looking to you to not only represent my views on this, but to be a voice for animals that need us all to be their voice more than ever before.

Chairman of the EFRA Committee Neil Parish MP says “Our inquiry into animal welfare highlighted the scale of the puppy trade in the UK. The quality of life of the puppies vary considerably and I believe that banning the third party sale of dogs is essential to improving the condition of dogs sold in the UK. Since the publication of our report, many welfare organisations, such as the RSPCA, have changed their minds on third party sales and agree that there should be a ban. I will be urging the Government to look again at this issue.

During our inquiry, we found that incidences of inhumane treatment of animals are all too common. Sentencing powers under the Animal Welfare Act are some of the weakest within the international community. The Animal Welfare Act was a landmark piece of legislation in 2006, but it is now time for the Government to legislate to increase the maximum custodial sentence for animal cruelty. I believe that the maximum penalty should be increased to five years.”

I would also like to bring to your attention the links between the abuse of children and vulnerable adults and animal abuse. So, whether you consider yourself to be an animal lover or not, the issue of animal cruelty affects our society as a whole.

The sale of puppies by licensed third parties including pet shops and by dealers in 2017 is unacceptable, as it has been scientifically proven to be detrimental to their physical and behavioural health – leading to long term problems for owners.  The third party trade is also the primary reason for the existence of cruel puppy farms – where dogs are produced as a cash crop with no thought for their wellbeing; again this link is indisputable. Retailing puppies through licensed pet shops reduces our most valued canine companions merely to the status of commodities, encourages irresponsible impulse purchasing and is impossible to regulate to an appropriate standard. This leaves animals and consumers vulnerable to unscrupulous sellers and simply cannot be justified on any grounds.

I realise that this debate falls on the last day Parliament sits before recess, however I cannot stress enough how much your presence at this debate will be valued by me and fellow constituents who feel strongly about animal welfare. I hope that these issues are also of importance to you personally and to the party you represent.

I would be extremely grateful if you would confirm whether you will be attending and that you will be supporting the EFRA recommendations.

Yours sincerely,

On 30th January, 2017 a long-standing C.A.R.I.A.D. supporter wrote to the Head of Animal Welfare Policy at the Welsh Government expressing their overwhelming disappointment in the failure of the Welsh dog breeding regulations to effect any meaningful change in the welfare of dogs kept in licensed breeding premises in Wales.

This letter followed on from a C.A.R.I.A.D. article entitled ‘Dogs are suffering in Welsh ‘puppy farms’ despite new regulations, say campaigners.’ published on Wales Online in December 2016.

puppileaks-logo

Below is the letter submitted by our long-standing supporter to the Welsh Government. This letter is being published as part of our PuppiLeaks campaign.

To: Head of Animal Welfare Policy, Welsh Government

Dear Head of Animal Welfare Policy

I am writing to you in your capacity as Head of Animal Welfare Policy, and as the senior official who was directly involved in the final stages of the development of the Breeding of Dogs (Wales) Regulations, 2014.

1) I am writing in particular to express my overwhelming disappointment in the failure of these Regulations to effect any meaningful change in the welfare of dogs kept in licensed breeding premises in Wales. It has become evident, through evidence of authority licensing reports obtained through FOI, and other evidence that the key provisions of the Regulations are simply not being applied.

2) License reports for both Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, for example, for both 2015 and 2016, again and again refer to the premises examined having significantly lower than the required minimum number of staff in relation to the numbers of breeding dogs licensed for. Yet in every case the premises has continued to be licensed.

3) Two key elements of the legislation which would have been critical to effect significant improvement in welfare, were the requirement that each premises submit for approval a ‘socialisation’ programme (for the puppies bred), and an ‘enhancement and enrichment’ programme to ensure adequate exercise, stimulation and interaction. Yet in hardly any of the licence reports is there any reference to the socialisation or enrichment activities of the premises, and pretty much none at all to the required socialisation and enrichment programmes. Again, despite this, the premises are being licensed.

4) What is undoubtedly continuing to happen is that many premises, likely most, in the primary breeding authorities Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, are keeping dogs as before in barren accommodation without adequate, exercise, stimulation or interaction, and with entirely inadequate staffing levels to enable proper care. They will, one can anticipate, continue to be failing to be provided with adequate veterinary care and other basic facilities in many cases.

5) How has this come about? The Welsh Government needs to accept a very substantial amount of blame. The Regulations took about five years to come into place after the Task and Finish Group report was initially produced. Throughout this period there were multiple consultations with extraordinary delays between each and no sense of urgency whatsoever from the Government. Such delays when queried were often met with a weak response that, ‘it’s with our lawyers’. These lawyers appear to have been remarkably tardy not to mention incompetent as the drafting was at each iteration still flawed.

6) An absolutely key element of the Regulations should have been effective Guidance to local authorities to spell out how the Regulation provisions should be interpreted and applied. The first draft of this was weak, and then sat on a shelf for two years without further consideration. Shortly before the Regulations came into effect a final Guidance document was produced but astonishingly this was significantly diluted even compared to the first. With almost complete lack of concern and lack of understanding of the licensing inspection process, the Government presumed to retain a very poor and lightweight document.

7) This process is particularly galling as earlier Pembrokeshire County Council had put in a great deal of work to provide new model licence conditions under the extant Breeding of Dogs Regulations, 1973. These were comprehensive and of a high standard with thorough guidance to local authorities built in. The conditions rightfully included the expectation that each authority would ensure that the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act6, 2006 were met before a premises was licensed. Pembrokeshire County Council took the initiative to persuade other authorities in Wales to adopt these, working with the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA). But the Welsh Government effectively chose arrogantly to ignore this work and to pursue its own regulations without the competence to do so effectively. We now have the worst of all worlds – poor regulations and inadequate Guidance.

8) While the Welsh Government is blameworthy in this, key culprits also include particular local authorities. Most significantly Carmarthenshire, which is the largest and has 81 licensed breeders, and Ceredigion. The standards applied have been minimal at best, but have often clearly failed to meet the requirements of licensing regulations. Both authorities have stated that they do not apply the Animal Welfare Act when licensing, since ‘this is not a statutory responsibility’. These authorities are continuing to ignore the new Regulations ignoring requirements for minimum staffing, ignoring requirements for puppy socialisation and environmental enrichment. And ignoring the Animal Welfare Act.

9) I understand that when issues have been raised about failures of application and enforcement by local authorities, the Government’s first response has been to avoid the issue stating that it has no authority. The second step has been to provide a link to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. How helpful. Yet this betrays yet another ignorance – the Ombudsman will not act on general complaints about failures of authorities to meet statutory duties, it will only act on behalf of individual citizens who can provide evidence that they have suffered personal detriment as a result of an authority’s action or inaction. An animal can’t complain about personal detriment nor can someone on their behalf. So no remedy through this route is possible. How come the Welsh Government doesn’t know this? The only available remedy is judicial review – and that requires a likely minimum of £50,000 for legal fees.

10) A further critical issue for Regulations such as these to be properly implemented is adequate training for licensing officials. I understand that there was a 1-day workshop for local authority staff run by the Welsh Government shortly after the Regulations came in, but this is hardly likely to have been adequate. In anticipation of the need for licensing officers to gain an understanding of puppy socialisation and ‘enhancement and enrichment’, C.A.R.I.A.D. produced two Guides. These were published in different formats and made available freely on-line by C.A.R.I.A.D. Copies were supplied to the Welsh Government, though my suspicion is that it could barely be bothered to promote or encourage their use, despite the fact that they are of high quality and based on systematic and up-to-date review of relevant scientific evidence.

11) When the Regulations were passed in 2015 it was stated that there would be a review, particularly relating to the issue of the staff to dog ration. My recollection is that this review was meant to happen within a year. But I don’t think anything has happened yet. A big question is what happens now? What seems likely is that the implementation of the Regulations, such as they are, will continue to be poor or non-existent through continued preparedness of local authorities to licence premises irrespective of whether they meet legally required standards or not. The main consequence of this, of course, will be the continued suffering and poor welfare of thousands of breeding dogs kept in cow-sheds and the like, to make as much money as possible for licensed puppy farmers.

12) But of course the consequences don’t stop there. Failure to properly socialise puppies leads to behavioural problems. These can mean dogs are more readily abandoned or given up. Failure to socialise is associated with increased risk of aggression and dog-biting so this bears on potential risks and costs to health authorities. Numbers of dog bites seen at out-patient clinics across the U.K. are surprisingly high – about 250,000 per annum, and that is without considering those that only go to the local G.P. Inadequate conditions lead to infections and ill-health and owners are often faced with the distress of dealing with a suffering dog, as well as increased veterinary costs. There are so many instances of people having bought puppies via intermediaries from licensed puppy farms, including in Wales, that develop such problems. Seeking redress is not easy.

13) These issues need to be looked at now by the Welsh Government with urgency and without the complacency that has been characteristic of its approach so far. The persistent inability of the Government to understand how licensing works and what the demands on licensing officials are is a key issue and needs to be addressed also.

Yours faithfully,

On 6th February, 2017 our long-standing supporter received the following hugely dismissive response from the Animal Welfare Branch, Welsh Government.

Thank you for your email and letter about the Dog Breeding Regulations.

Welsh Government officials are working with Local Authorities to assess the enforcement of the Regulations and the impact they have had on the welfare of dogs in licensed premises. The first stage of this is a data capture exercise, working direct with the Trading Standards Officers in Wales via the Partnership Delivery Programme, and this is currently underway.

Many of your complaints have previously been raised and discussed with either myself or other members of my team but please be assured that the welfare of dogs and their offspring are a priority for us and we will continue to work with Local Authorities and Third Sector organisations with this aim in mind.

Yours sincerely,

Animal Welfare Branch/Cangen Lles Anifeiliaid
Department for Natural Resources/Yr Adran Cyfoeth Naturiol
Welsh Government/Llywodraeth Cymru
Cathays Park/Parc Cathays
Cardiff/Caerdydd
CF10 3NQ

What C.A.R.I.A.D. finds deeply worrying is that the recent announcement from Defra stating their plans to improve the breeding and sale of dogs in England, bear a striking resemblance to the Welsh regulations implemented in April 2015 – regulations that have failed to effect any meaningful change in the welfare of dogs kept in licensed breeding premises in Wales.

On 21st December 2016, the BBC aired episode 8 of consumer programme Watchdog. A report contained in the programme centred on the activities of LICENSED dog breeder and pet shop, Kevin Knox owner of Ivy Leaf Kennels.

watchdog-ivy-leaf-kennels

Following DEFRA’s announcement of a new licensing regime, which will supposedly improve the lives of the nation’s breeding dogs and their puppies, we thought now would be an opportune time to give you an insight into what it means to be a LICENSED dog breeder and pet shop in the UK, and how the system is often set up to fail the dogs.

Below is a blog from Julia Carr, dog welfare campaigner, lobbyist and founder of Canine Action UK.

ivy-leaf-kennels

‘Kevin Knox isn’t entirely to blame for selling sick puppies.’

BBC Consumer Affairs programme, Watchdog, highlighted that despite the focus on illegal puppy sellers, problems are just as likely when the seller is licenced and legal.

Ivy Leaf Kennels owned by Kevin Knox has been the subject of negative media attention for many years and was exposed by BBC Inside Out in 2010 for selling sick puppies. Despite this, he continues to be licensed both as a breeder and as a pet shop, which allows him to buy in puppies from elsewhere and sell them on.

Watchdog repeatedly stated that since Inside Out was aired, they have learned of 52 cases of puppies becoming seriously ill and 11 puppies that died soon after purchase. One case was reported in June 2014. Quite rightly the programme pointed out that Kevin Knox’s response “Our client accepts that sometimes puppies die” is completely unacceptable.

The programme sent an undercover team to act as purchasers and they filmed the sale as Mr Knox handed over a puppy with as much feeling as if he was selling a toaster. Apart from conjunctivitis, the puppy was in reasonable physical condition although it was not comfortable around humans and required remedial behavioural support to ensure that this wouldn’t develop into a problem. The programme also observed that the kennels appeared ‘clean and professional’ although very sterile with no form of environmental enrichment.

The programme attempted to discover why so many puppies had become sick or had died and focussed on potential issues with the environment, including an unsanitary outside yard and lack of handwashing facilities. Suggestions for improvements were made to Mr Knox in a letter, but what the programme didn’t highlight was that these issues should have been picked up in the inspection process.

With such obvious risks for disease transmission, why have the premises been relicensed? The programme stated at the beginning of the piece that “if they’re licensed, you should feel secure in the knowledge that your puppy has been well reared and is healthy and happy.” Clearly Ivy Leaf kennels are not operating as they should and it is fantastic that this has been exposed in such a high profile way. However, it is just as important that searching questions are asked about the licensing process that has not been able to prevent these very serious problems.

The truth is, while Kevin Knox is a convenient person to blame for the sick and dying puppies he has sold, the buck doesn’t stop with him. There are supposed to be processes in place to protect not just the welfare of dogs and puppies but to protect consumers.

Ivy Leaf Kennels are licensed as a dog breeding establishment and as a pet shop – that should mean inspections are carried out to ensure that the premises meet the required criteria for both activities. Kevin Knox’s legal representative issued a reply to Watchdog which was shown on screen. It claims “Each year his premises are inspected by the local authority and each year his premises are deemed to be of sufficient standard to have an animal breeders licence and a pet shop licence issued to him by them.” However this is not entirely true.

Durham’s response to our own Freedom of Information request (dated January 2016) states “the Council does not hold the requested information (inspection reports) for 2013 and 2015. This is because the premises were not due for inspection in 2013 and inspections had not been carried out for 2015 at the time your request was made.” The only inspection received for Ivy Leaf Kennels was dated 2nd December 2014, so it appears that if no inspection was made during 2013 then about two years had elapsed since it was last inspected.

However, it is likely that even if Durham Council had been more diligent with their inspection protocol, puppies would still be dying or developing serious illnesses after being sold because Kevin Knox operates within a system that allows him to buy in puppies from other breeders based many hundreds of miles away, transport them to his own establishment and sell them on. These puppies are likely to be sourced from multiple different breeders who breed dogs as a cash crop, with no consideration for their physical or mental welfare. These breeding establishments are probably never seen by the public as their sole market is likely to be third party traders such as Kevin Knox and the other eighty licensed pet shops that are permitted to sell puppies.

The whole system facilitates the trading of dogs as a commodity and allows them to be bred, reared and sold with no regard for their wellbeing or suitability to become well-adjusted family pets.

The bald reality is that it doesn’t really matter how clean Ivy Leaf kennels are, or whether customers are able to wash their hands. If the council was prepared to inspect the establishment every month, puppies would still be dying. No matter what measures are imposed at the point of sale, those puppies would still be bred by irresponsible breeders because no responsible breeder would allow a third party to sell their puppies. They would still have to endure a lengthy journey in unmonitored conditions, crammed in with other stressed and poorly bred puppies from multiple sources. They would still be kept in a situation where the only objective is to sell them as quickly as possible to make room for more puppies.

Kevin Knox is just a representative of the entire problem, one that cannot be improved while it remains legal to sell puppies through commercial third party outlets.

Eleven puppies are known to have died during the last six years; this is probably just the tip of the iceberg and even the puppies which have apparently been in good health after sale are likely to have behavioural problems or go on to develop chronic conditions as they age due to bad breeding practices. Puppies that die before they are sold are not ever accounted for. We MUST not accept that “puppies die”. We must not allow them to die.

There is only one way of making a difference and that is to completely ban the commercial sale of puppies through third parties. Don’t blame Kevin Knox for doing what he is legally permitted to. Make sure that he is NOT legally permitted to do it any longer by supporting a ban on the third party sale of puppies.

Since the Watchdog programme was aired, the RSPCA have launched an investigation. Our question is ‘Why wasn’t this investigation launched sooner?

puppileaks-logo

In January 2017, the plight of countless dogs bred to within an inch of their pitiful lives was reported in the media. It shocked, sickened and angered the UK public. The Mirror’s headline read ‘Inside sick illegal UK puppy farms where cruel breeder left dogs in complete darkness ‘close to death’.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/inside-sick-illegal-uk-puppy-9691272

richard-jones

photo: cascadenews.co.uk

This article belies the ugly truth about Richard Jones and his premises which we internally referred to as ‘The Barn’ for more years than we care to remember. We are here to expose the full, ugly despicable truth about a Welsh puppy farmer who was sanctioned and licensed year upon year by Ceredigion Council.

Hundreds of dogs were failed by Ceredigion Council, the Welsh Government and a Welsh Licensing System that was, and still is, not worth the paper it’s written on. But what saddens us the most is that like Puppy Love Campaigns, we too feel we failed the dogs because despite how hard our two campaigns tried, we couldn’t stop their suffering during all these years. Here’s why …

NOTE: One of Richard Jones’ official council inspection reports was one of the worst and most damning we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen hundreds, yet the council saw fit to relicense him.

On 27th April, 2013 we first went public with the shocking case of Blaen-Y-Ffiniau, Silian – a puppy farm licensed for up to 70 breeding dogs. For those who still deny that there is even such a thing as a puppy farm, this is the licensed puppy farm run by Richard Jones. A licensed puppy farm already exposed in 2011 by Puppy Love Campaigns.

Here is our original Facebook poster from 2013.

The Barn

Here is the original post on Facebook that accompanied our poster:

Ceredigion County Council, the authority who within the last two weeks voted 16/1 in favour of a planning application for Nant Y Castell, Pontsian – a puppy farm licensed for up to 70+ breeding dogs – will shortly be considering an application from a puppy farmer who lives approximately 5 miles away from his unattended barn licensed to house 70 dogs. This puppy farmer has been licensed for a considerable amount of time without planning permission, something certain Councils in Wales deem perfectly acceptable.

These recent photos show the face of puppy farming in our country today. Puppy farming is a U.K. wide travesty that is a blot on our landscape. C.A.R.I.A.D. and Puppy Love Campaigns have challenged Ceredigion County Council on a number of occasions about this particular establishment, below are some of their responses.

“I would confirm that the premises concerned has been inspected by an Officer of this Department who was accompanied by an authorised Veterinary Surgeon. At the time of the visit the premises was found to generally comply with Ceredigion’s licensing conditions.”

“I can confirm that the date of visit was the 26th January 2012 and during the inspection the dogs did have warm, clean bed areas and gas heaters are available if needed.”

“To clarify the term “generally “ it is to say that the premises is collectively and on the whole complying with Ceredigion’s Licencing Conditions. The premises is not an overflow from a Licenced Breeder. At present there is no one living on site but the dogs are visited at regular intervals in accordance with the Licencing conditions.”

C.A.R.I.A.D. does not deem sawdust and planks of wood, seen in these concrete compartments, to be ‘warm, clean bed areas’. Neither do we deem it acceptable that Ceredigion County Council have licensed an unattended barn where the owners live approximately 5 miles away.

This application is for a Certificate of Lawfulness which is different to a Planning Application. Can this application be challenged? Highly improbable because the certificate will almost certainly be passed under delegated powers this week. Can you express your disgust and outright objection to this puppy farm? ABSOLUTELY!

We urge you to find time this weekend to make your feelings known to the powers that be. Council members are PUBLIC SERVANTS there to serve the needs of all in the community, including those who oppose puppy farming. Members of Parliament are elected by the public, for the public to represent our interests and concerns. Tell them puppy farming has no place in our country. Tell them to enforce the Animal Welfare Act. Ask them why puppy farming is still legal in the UK when if just one of the five freedoms was applied, “the freedom to exhibit normal behaviour”, puppy farming would be ILLEGAL.

Approximately 8 million dogs are kept as pets in the U.K. Every single one of us who share our lives with our canine friends must speak up and give them a voice. If we all spoke out it would be a voice that nobody could fail to hear.

If you think it’s acceptable for 70 breeding dogs to be housed in an unattended barn, in the middle of nowhere, then please do nothing. If however, you think this lack of humanity towards our companion animals does not belong in our country, please make your voice heard now.

THANK YOU!

On 17th May, 2013 we reported that the application for a Certificate of Lawfulness had been refused.

Below is our original Facebook poster.

The Barn Refused

Here is our original post on Facebook that accompanied our poster:

Unfortunately, all this meant was that the barn would in principle be subject to planning regulations. It was decided by the Council that no enforcement action would be taken as the premises would be unlikely to breach planning regulations. However, there was a further planning application for the building of a house alongside the barn. The planning officer recommended refusal as this was against national planning guidance.

The planning committee subsequently over-ruled the planning officer’s recommendations and voted to accept the application for building of a 3-bedroomed house. C.A.R.I.A.D. submitted a complaint to the Welsh Government asking them to ‘call in’ the application. Once they had considered our complaint the Welsh Government said yes, the application was in breach of planning guidance, but it was outside their remit to call it in as it wasn’t raising an issue of ‘national importance’. So the situation is – Blaen-Y-Ffiniau, Silian continues to be licensed – though in our view it actually breaches the authority’s own licensing conditions. The barn itself has not been subject to any planning regulation scrutiny and won’t be. A house has been approved for construction adjacent to the barn in which the applicant will live – mainly deriving income from the puppy farm, though this is formally in breach of planning guidance, but was approved by the planning committee.

On 27th April 2014, we we’re appalled to report that Blaen-Y-Ffiniau, Silian was still operating – breeding and selling puppy farmed puppies.

The Barn 2014

Over the years we have continued to pressure Ceredigion Council, the Welsh Government and frankly anyone else who would listen, including the RSPCA, but Richard Jones remained untouchable. Even when his licence wasn’t renewed in 2015, coincidentally the same year the new Welsh dog breeding regulations were introduced, officials clearly did nothing about the countless breeding dogs they knew were in Richard Jones’ possession.

NOTE: These poor dogs still remain in Richard Jones’ abusive hands. Please sign this petition as a matter of urgency to help free these souls. This family has a shocking history when it comes to their treatment of animals.

Whilst we’re grateful and relieved that Richard Jones has finally been exposed to legal proceedings and publicly shamed, it in no way makes up for the years of immeasurable suffering these poor dogs were subjected to under his ‘care’. It takes away none of their pain or fear. And whatever lenient sentence he is given, it will not fit his crime. And it will certainly not bring him to justice for the countless dogs whose lives cannot be accounted for once they ceased to be ‘productive’. It is, quite simply, too little too late. These dogs were left to rot by a system that is licensed to kill and by people who were employed to protect animals from this sort of neglect and abuse, and failed. A perfect storm.

It is no coincidence that Ceredigion Council only intervened when they discovered Richard Jones was operating without a licence. They turned a blind eye to the welfare failings of this disgraceful commercial breeding establishment for all the years he was operating ‘legally’ with a licence. A licence that granted him impunity. Yet more proof that licensing does not protect dogs, it just legitimises this sort of cruelty. Some claim that he went underground when his licence wasn’t renewed – he did not. He remained in plain sight in exactly the same premises he’d been in for years, just like the Carmarthenshire breeder in our One Visit documentary.

One final point: Richard Jones sold his puppies to pet shops and dealers (third party sellers). Richard Jones, and puppy farmers like him are the reason we will never stop lobbying for a BAN on the sale of puppies away from their mothers. Without this holistic strategy in place, no amount of licensing on its own will ever stop puppy farming. Because puppy farming, by its very nature, operates behind closed doors where people can quite literally get away with canine murder.

richard-jones-2

photo: cascadenews.co.uk

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ONE of the things we are pushing for within a holistic strategy to combatting puppy farming, is a ban on the sale of puppies by third parties for one simple reason – most puppy farmers never have to open their doors to the public or any kind of prying eye apart from council licensing inspectors. These inspections happen once a year and do not give a true picture of what happens on a daily basis in these establishments on the other 364 days of the year. Nor are licensing staff animal welfare experts. Added to this is that in Wales puppy farmers can dictate which vet signs off their dogs as fit to breed from when they relicense. It is the perfect storm when it comes to the lack of transparency and impartiality which continues to allow canine suffering. These are the same establishments that sell their poorly bred and often sick puppies to licensed pet shops and puppy dealers.

Daily Mirror Article: Puppy Farms Operating Behind Firmly Closed Doors

What this means is that thousands of puppy farm dogs are suffering behind closed doors and their often sick and underage puppies are being sold on to YOU, via a network of third party sellers (pet shops and puppy dealers). This is HUGE business not just here on the mainland, but with the thousands of puppies being imported from Ireland and the rest of Europe (puppies bred on industrial scale puppy farms). These too are being sold to pet shops and puppy dealers. THIS IS ALL PERFECTLY LEGAL.

We, and many others have continued to lobby government on virtually a daily basis to get a ban enforced so that EVERY dog breeder has to open their doors to public scrutiny. Unfortunately, and although many of you don’t want to hear it, a handful of the largest and richest national charities are doing the complete OPPOSITE*. They are actively lobbying government to keep this network of puppy dealing going, knowing this will keep thousands of dogs suffering on puppy farms, and ensuring thousands of sick puppies imported into the country will continue to be sold to puppy dealers. They will tell you their reasons are based on a belief that a ban won’t or can’t work – they’re wrong. We have our own thoughts on what their real reasons really are, but we’ll keep those to ourselves for now. (*We have the evidence)

Below is a screenshot of a paragraph taken from a letter issued by Lord Gardiner. This paragraph clearly states that ‘a number of established welfare charities have advised against a ban on third party puppy sales of puppies’.

lord-gardiner-letter

Below is a screenshot of the response by George Eustice to Justin Tomlinson MP on the issue of a ban on third party sales of puppies. George Eustice’s response clearly states ‘Evidence was also presented to the recent EFRA Committee inquiry by Blue Cross, and The Dogs Trust on the annual demand and the risks of applying such a ban.’

response-from-george-eusticeThankfully, we are not alone. There are other charities and organisations out there lobbying for a ban because unlike the speculation being offered to Government by these three powerful charities, organisations lobbying FOR a ban can support this with evidence; these include IFAW, OneKind, Brian May’s Save Me Trust, Naturewatch and more recently due to their revised position, the RSPCA.

Another great campaigning organisation called Protect All Wildlife has started a petition urging Dogs Trust, Blue Cross and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to reverse their stance on this ban and do the right thing for the dogs. These three charities have the ear of the Minister and the Minister has acted according to their wishes and dismissed EFRA’s and the RSPCA’s recommendation for a ban on selling puppies in pet shops and by third parties. We have been told that this consultation is the last chance for this ban to be considered by Westminster for many years. So, at the eleventh hour we are desperately asking them to reverse their decision as it seems that Dogs Trust, Blue Cross and Battersea hold all the cards for the future of our nation’s long suffering puppy farm dogs and pet shop puppies.

As an aside: Even if selling puppies in pet shops wasn’t linked to the puppy farming industry, we would have thought that these charities would be fighting tooth and nail to stop puppies being sold like commodities in pet shops. These are sensitive, intelligent sentient beings, not groceries or electrical goods. But the fact that the third party puppy trade is inextricably linked to the cruelty of puppy farming makes it even more disappointing that they have lobbied the Government to dismiss calls for a ban – especially after all the evidence we have provided to these charities in so many face to face meetings with them.

We love dogs and we know you do to. If you want to see an end to puppy farming, if you believe that selling puppies in pet shops as commodities is wrong, PLEASE read this blog by Protect All Wildlife and sign and support their petition to these three charities as a matter of urgency. The clock is ticking and time is sadly running out for the dogs … thank you.

https://protectallwildlifeblog.wordpress.com/dogs-trust-blue-cross-battersea-please-dont-let-puppies-keep-being-sold-by-pet-shops/

#BanPetShopPups

Sometimes the truth hurts. Tough! Dogs are dying and we MUST be their voice.

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Over the coming days, weeks and months we’re going to be speaking the truth. You won’t always like what we have to say, but it will be truth based on evidence and years of experience.

Thousands of dogs are suffering on puppy farms and in pet shops and they’ve been suffering for decades. When we first started C.A.R.I.A.D. we were naïve about why this had been allowed to continue for so long. But now we understand. We understand because we have taken the time to meet face to face with people. The public, breeders both good and bad, vets, behaviourists, Councils both good and bad, welfare organisations large and small, the pet trade, AMs, MPs and MEPs.

This type of suffering doesn’t happen by chance, it is being enabled by inadequate legislation, ineffective council officials and a vast network of people and organisations that so many of us have had great faith in all our lives. But regrettably many have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. In other words, they are saying one thing publicly but behind our backs they are doing something quite different so that the cruel puppy trade continues, no matter the consequences to the dogs, the puppies or YOU the public.

Some of these people and organisations have tried to silence us and some may try to again. But their threats, false accusations and attempts to denigrate us are nothing more than distraction techniques designed to not only try and derail the truth but to disguise their own failings, ignorance and in many cases pure self-interest and financial greed.

Now in our seventh year of campaigning and lobbying we have, over time, been gradually peeling away the skin of an onion and revealed layers that have made us cry discovering things we could never have imagined at the beginning of this journey. We thought the greatest enemies of the dogs were the puppy farmers themselves. But what has emerged has in some cases shocked us to the core. The real politics of puppy farming and the puppy trade in the UK is shameful. And now it’s time for those responsible to be publicly challenged.  At the end of the day, knowledge is power. And 2017 is the year when we will provide you with that knowledge so that the balance of power is returned to the public and ultimately to the dogs we all care about.

#PuppiLeaks

DEFRA DECEMBER 24TH – IMAGINE

Posted: December 24, 2016 in Diary

24TH DECEMBER – Today, the dogs need you to read and share our ‘IMAGINE’ blog. Why? Because we can dare to dream.

IMAGINE … THERE ARE NO PUPPY FARMS (it isn’t hard to do)

‘Twas the day before Christmas and in a change from our usual schedule, we journey into a fantasy world. A world without puppy farming and other forms of canine exploitation. What could an idealistic dog world look like and how would it affect dogs, dog lovers, the pet industry, charities and society?

If  you’re sitting comfortably, we’ll begin…

Picture in your mind only healthy, well socialised and genetically sound puppies being born – whether pedigrees, cross breeds or mixed breeds. Puppies that are healthy, happy and valued family members; bred from healthy, happy parents, cared for as cherished companions instead of being used as breeding machines and treated like commodities as they were back in 2016 when puppy farming and back street breeding were rampant.

Now, as you might expect these puppies aren’t cheap because they’re not mass produced. But boy are they worth every penny, and also the time people have to wait to buy one because, unlike the bad old days, in this world you can’t just buy a puppy in an instant or on a whim.

You have to put your name down on a waiting list because these carefully bred puppies are only sold to people who can prove they are committed to a lifetime of caring for them as members of their family. Gone are the Dickensian days of puppies being sold in pet shops or advertised on internet classifieds. And you definitely can’t get a puppy delivered to you.

When your puppy is ready, you take home a cute fluffy bundle of joy that is as healthy as possible and has the perfect temperament to be in a family environment with children. Because your puppy has had the best start to life, the whole dog owning experience is a real joy.

In this alternate universe, as a dog guardian (we dispensed with the term ‘owner’ back in 2020) you have a dog licence which provides councils with funds to support and enforce animal welfare in their counties as well as providing dog friendly spaces where you can exercise your canine friend in complete safety.

Every dog has a third generation RFID chip that means all dogs can be tracked (making dog theft virtually impossible). Every dog in the country is accounted for through a central database from the moment he or she is born to the moment they pass away. These chips also prove invaluable in providing their guardians and the veterinary profession with data on how their dogs are feeling, both physically and emotionally, so that they can respond to their needs quickly.

Because these puppies are healthy, with wonderful temperaments and are easy to train – more and more people who once considered that getting a dog was a bit of a lottery, now want a canine companion or two, or three in their lives. Well, because there are no more puppy farms and back street breeders, no more imported pups from puppy farms in Europe and Ireland, to cater for this high canine demand more and more smaller caring, high welfare breeders have emerged.

But what about rescue dogs I hear you ask? Well here’s the really good news. Since people stopped being able to buy cheap, mass produced puppies with health and behaviour problems, they’ve  stopped relinquishing their dogs to rescues. Because people have to wait to buy a puppy and pay quite a lot of money for their new friend, the days when people used any old excuse to ditch their dog because they were too much work, too old, they’d become bored with them, or had chosen the wrong type of dog for their lifestyle, are long gone.

Dogs are no longer considered to be fashion accessories either, so breeds never become ‘trends’ that go out of style. Yes, in this alternate universe, people do everything they can to ensure that their loved dog is a dog for life. They can’t imagine parting with them for any reason. In fact the only dogs that still do end up in care centres are there because their owners have passed away or have gone into care homes and no other family members are suitable or willing guardians. But these few dogs are never without a home for long because dogs of all ages and sizes are so valued in this world.

There are no strays or dumped dogs either, because every dog born is accounted for and every guardian is accountable for ensuring they are kept safe, healthy and cared for.

Breed Specific Legislation no longer exists because it was finally understood that controlling canine aggression and biting wasn’t about a ‘breed’ at all, but about ‘breeding’ and education. And as  puppy farming no longer exists, it’s no coincidence that reports of dog bites are now almost unheard of.

Greyhound racing has also been consigned to the history books having been replaced by virtual dog racing, so the gambling industry can still rake in billions of pounds without having blood on its hands.

Service dogs such as those who help sniff out drugs, search for missing people, detect cancer or assist the disabled now have special legal status, with penalties of life imprisonment for anyone deliberately seeking to harm them. While anyone found guilty of hurting an animal is now given a custodial sentence of 10 years without parole and banned for life from keeping any animals. Such deterrents have seen very few instances of animal cruelty since being introduced.

An added bonus for dogs themselves is that the complex health problems certain breeds had once been forced to suffer through misguided breeding standards and human vanity – you know the ones that left flat faced dogs like Pugs unable to breathe properly, Cavaliers with skulls too small for their brains and German Shepherds with sloping backs that left them crippled – have finally, completely been eradicated.

Of course, this idyllic new world also means that without a constant supply of dogs needing to be rehomed – and unlike back in the day when big charities had to raise millions from public donations to open more and more new state of the art kennels – these big centres have been able to close their doors.

With most dogs now staying with their families for life and more people wanting at least one dog in their family, the pet industry has flourished. People spend more and more on their adored friends for many more years. As dogs now live longer, healthier lives, the UK has become totally dog friendly so people don’t have to leave their four legged friends at home as much as they once did. And those companies that allow people to bring their dogs to work find their employees are more productive and contented as a result.

Another cool side effect is significantly lower premiums on pet insurance because dogs don’t get ill so often, and it’s only when they have unfortunate accidents and hurt themselves that they really need expensive veterinary treatment.

Our utopian UK dog world is full of people who have been well-educated about caring for and respecting our non-human friends because animal welfare has been part of the school curriculum for decades now.

Science has moved on from testing on all animals and so our beagle friends and others dog breeds who were once tortured for the pharmaceutical industry’s benefit, never have to fear being used in laboratories ever again.

And so, in this wonderful, idyllic world for our best friends, the long-held knowledge that pets are good for people can now finally be returned, because at last people are also good for pets.

Just imagine …

Of course, people of a certain age might say that some things in this fantastical future dog world are reminiscent of a bygone era. Before everything was mass produced and disposable. Before the internet. Before we knew the cost of everything and the value of nothing …

To those who are campaigning just as hard to end all other forms of animal abuse, never give up. However hard the battle and however many unreasonable obstacles are thrown at you, you are the only hope that one day we might live in a kinder, safer world where all sentient beings can exist without fear, pain or suffering.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that people once branded those who said they wanted to land on the moon as fantasists and idealists. But man did walk on the moon because someone, somewhere had the passion and will to make it a reality.

Read more about our Defra December campaign here.

imagine