YOU CALL them puppy mills and we call them puppy farms but whatever we choose to call them they are places to be despised.

Pup Aid, Sign the Petition

Looking back through our archive we have been writing on the issues for years but for some reason no one seems to grasp the nettle and take steps to regulate or even outlaw them.  Well, a few years ago here in the UK a system was launched which allows people to set up their own online petitions. The deal was that if a petition attracted 100,000 signatures then the issue earned the right to be debated by the UK’s 650 members of parliament in our lower chamber, The House of Commons.

Earlier this year a vet called Marc Abraham , a well-known through his TV and radio appearances his writing for newspapers and magazines, launched a petition calling on the government to ‘end the cruel practice of puppy/kitten farming’, and ban the sale ‘of young pets where the mother is not present and interacting with her litter’ .  The only exceptions asked for are rescue animals who have been orphaned or abandoned.

That petition has passed the 100,000-signature threshold needed to get the issue debated. In fact, the PupAid petition has become the biggest pet welfare petition of all time. Mr Abraham, who is one of the Kennel Club’s veterinary advisors, spoke at last week’s meeting of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) saying that every group represented there had the power to make changes for the good of dogs, and that he hoped the e-petition could now move things ‘to the next level’.

The PupAid petition has gained more signatures than any other previously on animal welfare; there have been 40,000 e-petitions launched on general subjects and only 23 have reached such a figure. Marc said: “I’ve learnt some interesting lessons during the course of this. Puppy farming is generally an unknown industry by the public, but when people find out about it – that dogs are being bred commercially in such conditions – they become very passionate, and this has created modern-day army of new foot soldiers.
This subject now can’t be ignored and the petition will take the debate into Parliament next year, trying to make damned sure that something is done about puppy farming and that puppies are always seen interacting with their mothers.”  Marc said he was disappointed that some welfare organisations had failed to back his petition, claiming they had done so because ‘it was not their idea’. “People need to come forward to work together on this one,” he said. “Cruelty can be prevented.”

APGAW chairman Neil Parish said that to raise 100,000 signatures was no mean feat: “The matter will come to Parliament in March and will be debated thoroughly,” he said.
”This will highlight the need to see puppies and kittens with their mothers so people know where they come from.
This will be thoroughly aired and I will make sure I speak quite strongly on the issue.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) responded to the petition saying that the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999, which amended and extended the provisions of the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 and the Breeding of Dogs Act 1991, provided protection for dogs used in breeding establishments.
”Under this legislation, any person who keeps a breeding establishment for dogs and carries on at those premises a business of breeding dogs for sale must obtain a licence from the local authority,” a spokesman said. “The local authority has the discretion whether to grant a licence and, before doing so, must satisfy itself that the animals are provided with suitable accommodation, food, water and bedding material; are adequately exercised and visited at suitable intervals; and that all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent and control the spread of diseases amongst dogs.
For dogs bred by breeders who are not in the business of breeding and selling dogs but who breed occasionally, so-called hobby breeders, there is the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal or fail to provide for its welfare. The maximum penalty is a fine of £20,000 or six months imprisonment, or both.
  As with the dog breeding legislation, local authorities have powers to investigate allegations of cruelty or poor welfare.
If anyone has concerns about the welfare of dogs at a particular breeding establishment, they should report the matter to the relevant local authority, or the RSPCA who can investigate any such complaints.

We’ll have to wait and see if anything comes of the debate. Too often in the UK we see TV coverage of an empty house of commons with only a handful of MPs turning up to debate what is often very serious legislation so the initial worry is will MPs actually be sufficiently interested in the debate to even turn up?

Earlier in the year the President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) used his annual London dinner speech to call for an inquiry into illegal imports of puppies for sale. Peter Jones also said a way must be found to end puppy farming, that he believed the Government’s changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) did not go far enough, and that the introduction of compulsory microchipping was a ‘huge victory’. You can read the full story here

Dog World readers hate puppy farms – or puppy mills – and have often called for the Kennel Club to stop registering dogs which comes from such places. So it’s clear there is a demand for something to be done, we just need to hope the UK’s MPs appreciate the level of public feeling and use this as the chance to do something really significant.

On another note

THE BIGGEST ever DOG WORLD ANNUAL will be out for the final general championship show of the year, LKA.

We hope readers will enjoy every page of it, starting with a striking front cover image by Lisa Croft-Elliott which is bound to be a talking point.

There is a comprehensive review of the events in the British dog scene over the past year, profusely illustrated with the dogs and people who made the news, not only in the show world but on the working side and in many other fields too. There is a special section for juniors this year featuring three who are making their mark in serious group competition.

Kennel Club chairman Steve Dean wonders where the dog world will be in five years time, and Sheila Atter gives us her usual trenchant opinions from the grass roots.

Nick Waters’ traditional Dog in Art spread has a Scandinavian flavour this time.

For decades Ferelith Somerfield compiled the yearly review and in view of her retirement after judging best in show at BUBA this weekend after an immensely distinguished judging career, we felt this was the right time to tell the story of her life in the dog world.

Two outstanding kennels are featured in depth – from Britain the Saxonmill Afghan Hounds with their amazing breeding record, and from the US the Pouch Coves, perhaps the world’s best known Newfoundland kennel, now reaching the heights with Portuguese Water Dogs and making a mark in Norwich Terriers too.

The office of president of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale carries enormous influence in the dog scene worldwide. Rafael de Santiago has taken over this post this year and the ANNUAL carries an in-depth interview with him.

Steven Seymour profiles some of Europe’s most spectacular summer shows, and then there is comprehensive coverage of the 2013 events in the world’s major dog showing countries.

You can order your print or digital copy now at Dog World/Annual