I’ve been very busy recently recording interviews for future shows, and one that sticks in my mind is one with Margaret Flack. Margaret, with the Kennel Club and the UK dog newspaper Our Dogs, is mounting a campaign to stamp out puppy farms, dog dealing and dog smuggling in the UK. I hope she is successful, and so should each and every dog lover in the UK - and beyond.
Margaret spoke about the awful reality of puppy farms she had visited – dogs living in cramped filthy cages, bred with one aim in mind; to make money. She said the stench of the place assails you as you walk in and stays with you long after you have left. You can hear this interview in episode 76 of DogCast Radio out on November 8th.
Of course breeding dogs is only half the business of making money from them, and puppy farmers need an outlet. The horrific news is that a new pet superstore has two locations in the UK already and is looking to expand. Once they are established, Europe is only a short distance away, and they have a lot of scope to spread their badly bred dogs beyond Britain.
This isn’t bad news just for the dogs involved, but also for those who are unlucky enough to buy them. Puppy farmed dogs are not bred with health or temperament in mind. Usually parents have not been health tested, and bitches have litter after litter until they cannot carry on. Mass produced pups may be cheap but buying one is buying heartache and probably setting yourself up for massive veterinary bills.
Don’t think that by buying a puppy from a shop you are rescuing him – you are in fact lining the pockets of the heartless money grabbing individuals who bred him. Plus, of course there will be another pup to take his place and bring in more money. The only way forward is to put these people and any others like them out of business.
There are two parts to this. The first is for people to know how to buy a puppy. Research is the key. Research the breed you are interested in. Visit relevant websites, contact breed clubs, attend shows and talk to breeders and owners. Be aware of any health concerns, and ask to see test results. When you actually choose a pup, see at least the bitch (mother) as well, and if possible the dog (father); parents are a good indication of temperament, size and so on.
The second part is for legislation to give the Kennel Club the legal power to control the breeding of all dogs in the UK. Only when all breeders have to by law follow thorough health tests and codes of ethics will we see puppy farmers once and for all put out of business.
Of course, I am not forgetting the thousands of dogs of all ages currently in shelters, desperately in need of a good home. Rescue is the alternative to going to a reputable breeder.
I was horrified to hear about the latest developments in puppy farming in the UK from Margaret, but I am delighted that she and many others are determined to campaign and demonstrate to put a stop to it. Her interview makes fascinating though disturbing listening, and her strongest message is not to buy from puppy farms or pet shops.
Dog lovers working together are a force to be reckoned with, and I hope for many reasons we can all pull together on this one.