Where do you go with your suspicions?
If you suspect a dog breeder, seller, or rescue is not all they claim to be, or, you have suspicions of illegal breeding here are the places to report to:
- Naturewatch Foundation is a dedicated charity which will investigate reports of illegal, or dodgy breeding and pet selling. They will take your report seriously. They can prosecute and stop them operating.
- They can prosecute and stop breeders/sellers/businesses operating.
- In England and Wales if you suspect someone is selling or breeding puppies illegally call 0300 1234 999. For a greater chance of your report bringing action, collect and provide any evidence you can obtain of animal welfare concerns. The RSPCA can investigate if there is evidence, so help them by getting that if you can safely do so.
- Generally anyone breeding dogs to sell needs a licence to do so from their local authority. Rather than getting in a knot of whether someone meets the ‘business test’ or should or should not be licensed, I take the view that if you have concerns, you should report those to the local authority covering the area. The onus is on the authority to do the checks, issue the licence (or not), not you as a member of the public to understand the rules. Your responsibility is to report concerns. Report, give them a bit of time, and follow up.
- If you have concerns about a breeder or seller in Wales, report to Animal Licensing Wales. They are doing good work prosecuting and closing down breeders who break the rules and improving things for dogs in Wales. They rely on reports from the public, and the few rescues which will report and work with the authorities.
- They will accept reports of cruelty or concerns about breeders in Scotland. Call the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999
- In Northern Ireland, as well as the local licensing auhorities, report cruelty or illegal breeding to USPCA.
The Kennel Club
- I would like to say report your concerns to this organisation which takes money from breeders of all types, including known puppy farmers and action will result. However, I have no reason to think the Kennel Club will act on your concerns. As an example, one of my dogs, Albert, was born in a puppy farm in Norther Ireland. It featured in the 2016 BBC Panorama BAFTA award winning documentary Puppy Dealers Exposed. After the documentary aired, The Kennel Club continued taking money from the breeder, aka puppy farmer, Eric Hale for litter registrations, and the last time I checked, was still doing so. But, report your concerns anyway, then the KC can’t claim to have no knowledge of any concerns regarding an illegal, or dodgy breeder.
Press and Media
Reporting to the local press and media is also worth exploring. Be as accurate and detailed as you can be with your concerns, giving as much help and useful contacts as you can as this will help busy journalists take interest.
Why you must report your suspicions
Social media can be a good place and a very bad one. It can be a place where people are unfairly targeted for apparent misdeeds. Dog breeders are sometimes accused of being puppy farmers when they would deny they are any such thing.
Gossiping, rumour spreading, malicious lies, rivalries, point scoring, all find a loud and easy place on social media posts. And when it involves dogs and apparent animal cruelty, all kinds of things can be posted which may be outright lies. I try always to look past the bare bones of a post and look for context and wider involvement. It isn’t always easy to know what’s true, what’s malicious, or what’s a bit of both.
However, social media can also be a place where things that need exposing, get exposed. Where the harsh, exposing light of a social media frenzy brings things to the surface which have been hidden for years.
The dog world can be an unpleasant place in which to question things. I know this from experience. Factions, cliques, clubs, business, big money, competition, politics, crime, all sorts of less than pleasant forces are at play. If you suspect wrong doing, it is not at all easy to act on your suspicions. It can be far easier to scroll through social media feeling outraged, or tap out comments on a social media post and do nothing else. However, social media posts alone will never bring change for the dogs. That requires the authorities to act. For them to do so, they have to be made aware of suspicions. They need evidence. Some they will gather following tip offs and reports, but they need to be alerted in the first instance. Even after being told things are wrong, sometimes, little happens without the persistence of individuals following things up, again, and again.
It can take a long time for action to happen. The legal process can be slow. But, reporting any suspicions of wrong doing can, and should be done by anyone who has knowledge, or evidence, or experience of what is happening. Not to do so, becomes complicity in the wrong doing. And when it comes to dog breeding, there’s always plenty of that going on.