London: The ruthlessness of Britain’s dog trade has been exposed by a documentary which shows farmers keeping hundreds of bitches locked in giant sheds for breeding dogs, the country’s favourite pet, on an industrial scale.
One farm exposed in a shocking undercover BBC Panorama investigation was found to have a licence for 300 breeding dogs.
The farm, in County Cavan, Ireland, is believed to ship puppies to the UK.
The puppies are generally removed from their mothers far too early and sent by rail or van to ‘dealers’ or pet shops to satisfy the public’s growing demand.
Samantha Poling, a Scottish investigative journalist, currently working for BBC Scotland and BBC Panorama, said she found barns filled with dogs of all breeds, shrieking in cages, with no bedding or water bottles.
Using night vision cameras, she filmed the barns which were filled with dogs.
“Every breed, every age, every size. Many cowering in the corners, others shaking in the cages, with little or no bedding. What I’d discovered was a puppy farm – inspected and licensed by the local authority – where dogs were being farmed on an industrial scale,” Poling wrote in the Independent.
At the puppy farm, Poling discovered a massive complex of barns. There were breeds of all kinds: Spaniels, Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Poodles.
She found that none of the runs she filmed had drinking bowls. Instead, there was a system of pipes. In order to access drinking water, the dogs would have to press their nose and mouth against the nozzle. A system usually only seen in battery pig farming, she says.
Mike Radford, an animal welfare legalisation expert, said: “It is treating dogs as though they were agricultural animals.
“I am appalled… It raised fundamental questions about the local authority’s role. I would suggest it is failing,” Radford was quoted as saying by The Sun.
When bred to her limit, a female dog can produce 5,000- pounds-worth of pups a year.
Many ‘puppy farm’ puppies come with complete pedigrees, but, a pedigree in itself, is not necessarily an indication of quality.
Dr John Bradshaw from the University of Bristol said: “This is a production facility run on an industrial scale to produce a very valuable commodity.”
Cavan County Council, the authority responsible for licensing this farm, told the BBC that six inspections had been carried out in the last 12 months.
They say they “hadn’t encountered any direct evidence of any welfare problems during inspections”. Further, the facility was “generally compatible” with dog breeding legislation.
The owner of the farm, Raymond Cullivan, did not respond to the BBC’s requests for a comment, the report said.