Image: BBC Panorama - Britain's Puppy Dealers Exposed
We do a lot of work on issues that arise from puppy farms (puppy mills). Puppy farming is a miserable business. If you’re not familiar with it it’s essentially the battery farming of dogs to produce puppies for sale. Dogs in puppy farms are often confined to very small enclosures for most of the day, they are provided with little exercise and stimulation and all they do is breed litter after litter. It’s a truly depressing existence.
In many respects puppy farming is no different to other kinds of intensive farming where animals are treated as commodities, where welfare is not priority and making money is. And before the puppy farmers pipe up about how it’s not in their interests to ignore welfare – there is a big difference between keeping animals just physically healthy enough to be economically productive, and keeping animals healthy and happy.
Puppy farming is crappy for the dogs. But it’s also hugely problematic in a lot of other ways – there are environmental problems, there are public health problems, there are issues that arise because of the poor socialisation of the dogs and the stress of the environments they are bred in, and poor ownership screening procedures which place pressure on rescues and pounds. It’s just a thoroughly unnecessary and horrible industry.
Puppy farming in Ireland
So here’s the thing puppy farming in Ireland is legal and it’s supposed to be controlled by two pieces of legislation – the Dog Breeding Establishment Act and the Guidelines that go along with this. Lots of the ancillary activities that relate to puppy farming – planning legislation, environmental legislation, advertising standards etc are also meant to control the effects of this industry. But what we are routinely seeing is poor enforcement of the legislation, widespread lack of compliance with the law – and very little is being done about this.
You might be wondering why is this the case? Good question. It’s something we have been digging into for years now and have found that there are a host of reasons why- and we will be writing about these. But that’s not in any way to suggest we think the position is OK or that we are accepting of the current state of affairs. Quite the opposite - In fact we think the situation is a terrible indictment of those in positions of authority and we want to challenge why they are being so feckless. We think there is value in pursing these issue, not just for dogs, not just for the environment, but because we think it can also improve matters in animal industries more generally. This is because the issues that we see arise in relation to puppy farming, are not isolated to puppy farming – we think they are likely to be symptomatic of broader issues with the approach of government institutions to animal industries.
Some of the issues that we are going to cover under this heading include the poor enforcement of animal welfare laws, the broken freedom of information process, issues around the regulation of the veterinary profession, problems inherent in the processing of planning applications in respect of facilities housing animals… (of course there will be more).