Make Your Voice Heard, Follow Aimee’s Lead
About a year ago I had the good fortune to be contacted by a young animal advocate. Having read my books and being concerned about puppy farming, she wanted to interview me. I got to know Aimee after working on the interview and wrote this about her at the time,
If I ever feel the monolithic puppy industry is just too much to battle, or my optimism for a better future for the dogs wobbles, I’ll remember they have people like Aimee on their side.
And yesterday my confidence in Aimee being a brilliant advocate for the dogs was confirmed once again. For Aimee met with Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the Welsh government. The meeting had been arranged a while ago and followed Aimee inviting Welsh Secretary, Alun Cairns MP to Barry Island Schnauzerfest last year and going to Westminster in November.
Aimee had prepared for yesterday’s meeting and took along original footage from inside Welsh puppy farms, provided to her by the campaign group Puppy Love Campaigns. But then, news of the death of a recently rescued puppy farm schnauzer, Mila, who was being cared for at the Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre reached Aimee and she put Mila’s life and passing on the table with the Minister.
Mila’s story encapsulates so much that is terrible in the breeding industry. She came out of the breeding shed in a shocking state of neglect and had clearly suffered badly for a long period of time. The puppy farmer who confined her was directly responsible for her agonies. But the system which allows this neglect and abuse to go unchecked must also share responsibility. Suffering is endemic in the puppy breeding business as years of evidence from groups like Puppy Love has shown. And despite many trying to bring about awareness and actions that will end this catastrophe being inflicted on thousands of dogs every year, nothing ever seems to change.
Now it just might if we all engage in the consultation process which was announced on Tuesday by the Welsh government. Encouragingly, the consultation seeks responses beyond banning the third party sale of puppies – which as many recognise will never be enough to make much impact on the puppy trade.
It’s widely known that puppy farmers and backyard breeders already sell directly to the public. They will just increase that avenue should selling to third parties ever be effectively enforced. Or, sell to rescues and the public won’t be able to tell the difference between a good and a bad rescue, much as they can’t now. For the puppy farmers, whether selling to a dealer, the public or a rescuer it makes no difference, they’re getting their sale, their pockets are lined.
Announcing the consultation, Lesley Griffiths indicated that banning commercial third-party sales “may only be one aspect of this”. This is what we need to hear from politicians and yesterday at her meeting with Aimee, she made it crystal clear that everything is on the table for her with this consultation. She’s prepared to look far beyond what the Westminster Government announced for England. And that’s heartening as this is the only way that what’s going on in breeding sheds will ever improve.
I’ve long argued tackling the problems at source – not just the end point which is the sale – is the only meaningful actions that will change matters. Limiting the number of breeding dogs anyone can keep would be a big step forwards. Retails bans in the US haven’t changed the huge puppy mill crisis there, and retail bans on their own in the UK won’t change our puppy farm crisis. Concurrent, robust measures are needed and most vitally with enforcement that’s planned and budgeted for.
Aimee confirmed how Lesley Griffiths AM is approaching the issues:
We brought up lots of points about how puppy farming can be combatted, including some real life examples, especially Mila. On Tuesday Lesley opened a consultation against puppy farming in Wales. She would like everybody who has any ideas or any experience to speak up. She wishes people to respond as widely as possible and not limit their responses to third party puppy sales.
Go into absolutely everything you have to say on puppy farming. She said all options are on the table and they are looking at a package of measures rather than just third party sales. They want to go further than England has.
So, we have an opportunity to speak about the dogs who we see year in, year out coming from Welsh puppy farms in shocking conditions. We have a chance to say that keeping dogs in breeding sheds is unacceptable. We have a chance to say that licensing breeders for more than a few breeding dogs is allowing abuse and neglect to go on. And yes, we also have the chance to say that selling to third parties should not happen. That is the end point of a whole line of suffering and the attention of Lesley Griffiths and her department must be focussed on what happens before the dogs reach there. Say that in the consultation.
If you’d like to help shape the consultation, there’s a couple of things I would suggest:
Complete the Consultation itself which can be done online here:
and complete this survey which Hope Rescue in Wales is running to help their consultation responses be as broad and informed as possible. Remember that Lesley Griffiths told Aimee she wants to hear as wide a set of views as possible and with as many experiences as we can give her:
We have until May 17th to get our consultation responses in.