Inside The UK’s Puppy Farm Capital
This time last year, Schnauzerfest supporter, Aimee, at the time 13 years old invited Alun Cairns MP, Seretary of State for Wales to join her for the Barry Island Schnauzerfest Walk. He attended, took away copies of my books and engaged in the issues Aimee presented to him on puppy farming.
He followed up with her and helped arrange a meeting at DEFRA and one in February with Lesley Griffiths AM Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the Welsh Government. She has overall responsibility in Wales for what happens in Welsh puppy farms. Which have been the subject of a hard-hitting and well received BBC Wales Investigates report this week.
Watch the programme Inside the UK’s Puppy Farm Capital here
Aimee is a dedicated young person and prepared for her meeting with the Minister taking along original footage which campaign group Puppy Love Campaigns provided, which showed the dreadful situation inside Welsh puppy farms. Not historical evidence (they have footage dating right back to 2008), but current. Material they’d been gathering as they were working with the BBC Wales Investigates team on what was to become the Inside the UK’s Puppy Farm Capital report. The aim was to expose the full and ugly truth of multiple failings of vets, councils and all in authority who are responsible for enabling puppy farmers to get away with frequent and repeated breaches of welfare laws and licensing regulations. Not only to get away with, but making it easy for them to do so. This came over loud and clear to viewers.
At the meeting with Aimee and her mum, the Minister expressed shock and outrage at the film which Aimee showed her. She wanted to see more details and said she’d get her team onto it immediately, even saying she’d go straight to the puppy farms and close them down. It all sounded like perhaps a breakthrough might be possible in the years of stonewalling from those in power which Puppy Love Campaigns have faced. They immediately followed up, requesting a meeting themselves with the Minister so she could see more of their first-hand evidence. Footage taken in 2018 and 2019 from within Welsh puppy farms across several council jurisdictions. Some of which appeared this week in the BBC’s programme.
Lesley Griffiths however didn’t want to see more evidence at that time. She suggested that the evidence was reported to the Councils. That would be the same Councils which were shown on TV to be licensing puppy farmers and relicensing them in the full knowledge that dogs are being kept in conditions which breach animal welfare regulations. Councils which have done nothing to prevent the worst abuses of the breeding business over many years. All this Puppy Love Campaigns have been reporting for over 12 years. All this is well known in the corridors of power in Wales and beyond. But Puppy Love Campaigns are not listened to and one has to wonder why.
Why would a politician with responsibility for this not want to speak directly to those who actually know what’s happening in puppy farms. Those who speak to puppy farmers regularly, who get handed dogs like Olwyn, the poor breeding dog seen on TV being handed over by the puppy farmer with the words “give her a good home” – something he never gave her in all her sad years of providing him with puppies and a lucrative living. She lived in filth, on straw, in a crowded, noisy horrible breeding shed as was revealed on the BBC programme as he handed her over. Incidentally, he was willing to sell puppies directly to the public; he believed the BBC reporter and undercover Puppy Love Campaigns volunteer were members of the public coming to buy a puppy. Quite staggering that he sells direct to the public, as was clear from the film and records confirm it.
Olwyn would have died if Puppy Love Campaigns volunteers hadn’t been there for her that day as it turned out that she needed emergency surgery to remove a dead puppy (arranged by Hope Rescue)
But Lesley Griffiths didn’t want to speak to campaigners. I can only wonder why when she seemed so committed just a day or so before, sitting with Aimee and her mother.
What the TV programme showed, is the situation in Wales is seriously shocking. Even to those who have been investigating for years the morass of multiple agencies being complicit in enabling abuses to continue year after year in puppy farms.
Will this TV exposé be a game-changer? Following its airing several Welsh Assembly Members have committed to ensuring matters improve.
It’s acknowledged that the proposed introduction of a ban on third party sales of puppies – so called ‘Lucy’s Law’ – hasn’t yet happened. But, as Paul Heaney, the programme’s producer stated on Twitter that will not affect puppy farms selling directly to the public, nor ban puppy farming as is commonly headlined.
It will affect at point of sale, not at the source of the problem, that is, the conditions in the puppy farms themselves. I was struck by the scene with a puppy farmer in his ‘sales room’ where the puppies were put for the buyers while the filthy sheds the parents went back to remained out of sight of puppy buyers. As I understand it, Lucy’s Law won’t impact on breeders like this, mum after all will be present at sale – before she heads back to the misery of a breeding shed.
I hope that as Minister with responsibility, Lesley Griffiths agrees to engage with those who only want her to make matters better for the dogs. They have no other agenda but to see the breeding dogs of the UK safe and well cared for. Surely that’s not too much to ask for is it?
If you would like to do something for the dogs, why not write to Lesley Griffiths AM – she holds ultimate responsibility for the situation in Wales. Her email is:
To watch the full BBC Wales Investigates Report, Inside the UK’s Puppy Farm Capital, click on the link here: