Monday, 14 March 2016

Speaking up for others

Today I'm taking a break from writing about health and fitness, because I really can't be happy when the situation below exists. Please read this blog post, do what you can to help and share on the info. 

Man's best friend but is the opposite true?
Puppies - cute right? And looking at - or cuddling one - simply makes your heart sing. The soft fur, the over-excited waggy tail and the wriggly body. Who could resist? In fact, healthy puppies embody all the traits that generally make our life worth living; joy, trust and hope - all wrapped up in a cuddly, unquestioning bundle of love. So it's not surprising that dogs have been mankind's most faithful of companions for thousands of years (in fact some fossils suggests that 'domestic' dogs existed as much as 32,000 years ago).

But somewhere along the line, we've let these four-legged friends down. We've started to take them for granted, and stopped seeing them as living creatures that deserve our respect and love - instead often regarding them as possessions and accessories. Maybe it's about what they can give us - maybe it's about how we'll look as we parade them around with us. Which is why we have rescue shelters full of dogs that have failed to fulfil our - at times - unrealistic expectations - perhaps proving to be too demanding, not as expected, or just not quite what we wanted after all. Other times our life moves on and we simply leave them behind. Well shame on us.


Profits over pups

The main problem with pets becoming commodities is that they then have a price tag. In the case of a designer dog, that price tag can actually be quite a considerable one. Who wouldn't be up for parting with a wad of cash for the dog of their dreams? In turn this means of course that there's money to be made from supplying dogs. And once greed pops it's head thorough the door it seems (well for humans at least) morality and respect is long forgotten.

Which brings me to 'puppy farms' - places that intensively farm high volumes of puppies with little or no regard for the health and welfare of the puppies or their parents. In practice this means sheds full of mother dogs in confined spaces constantly giving birth. The mother dogs are not pet dogs, merely a means to an end. They receive no love, no affection, little in the way of comfort and the cheapest and bare minimum of food that will keep them breeding, they won't even see the sunlight. And they will be bred over and over again until they die.

The images of the inside of puppy farms are disturbing, but you can view some that have been reported in mainstream media here.

Health and behavioural problems

Typically the puppies are taken away from the mother far too early - and not looked after appropriately in terms of vaccinations and worming. These puppies are likely to go on to have both immediate health issues from poor husbandry and care, long-term medical conditions and birth defects because of the over-use of 'bloodstock' and lack of health checks on breeding bitches, and behavioural problems caused by a lack of early care and socialisation (like a human baby would if you took it away from it's mother after birth and kept it in a dark, confined space with no love).

Trading trust for greed
Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/SixNinePixels
If you buy a puppy from a pet shop and you cannot see it's mother then it is likely that the puppy comes from a puppy farm. The Kennel Club says 'In total 41 per cent of people who have bought a puppy in the last year did not see the puppy with its mother and 53 per cent did not see its breeding environment, meaning those puppies are highly likely to have been bred by puppy farmers and sold by third parties'.

(2014 Kennel Club PAW survey).

If it's wrong why is it allowed?

That's a great question - and one being asked of local councils and MPs across the country constantly. But we wonder if they are deaf. Currently it isn't illegal to sell or breed puppies if you have a license to do so - and can convince inspectors you're meeting the conditions that license sets out. The current animal welfare act is woefully out of date - and no one at the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs seems that bothered. You'll see many, many organisations and individuals are fighting to get this changed. These include:

PupAid
Puppy Love
The Kennel Club
RSPCA

You can (and should) sign the petitions that the organisations above have set up and write to your local MP - a process clearly explained by Puppy Love here.

Do you live in Berkshire?

This weekend I was part of a demonstration against a local pet shop that sells puppies. Rumours abound over where these puppies come from - and their general health. Of course I can't comment on that - but I can tell you that you should NEVER buy a puppy from a pet shop (or online for that matter). You should always see a puppy with its mother - and the person selling the puppy should interview you - to see if YOU are suitable, this will include questions about your home environment, your lifestyle and your family. Expect to have to 'pass' this interview and expect to wait for a puppy. If the puppy provider is happy to give you the puppy without asking any questions, then you should be suspicious. A rescue centre will also check you - and your home - out for suitability.

The call for a boycott of Linton Pet Stores (which is part of the Ladds Garden Centre complex in Hare Hatch, near Reading) that I attended will carry on. Every weekend those that want the council to revoke Linton's licence to sell puppies will protest peacefully with placards, banners and information. Wokingham Council has already received a petition with 15 thousand signatures asking for this to happen - but it has been ignored - just like the countless emails and letters to the local MP John Redwood. I believe that many of the other people that work on the Ladds site would like to see the trade in puppies stopped.

If you live locally - why not come along and protest? It's about keeping the pressure up and raising awareness. One look at the gathered crowd will tell you we are all normal people, trying our hardest to speak up on the behalf of the canine companions that we have so shamefully let down.

Linking up with
  ANIMALTALES 

6 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Agreed - shame on the puppy farmers, the third parties that sell them on and shame on Wokingham Borough Council and John Redwood MP for facilitating it! Imagine being able to put a stop to something like this - and choosing not to...

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  2. Puppy farms are just awful and I cannot understand how they are not regulated and bad ones closed down. I have always got my dogs from rescue centres and all bar one have been cross breeds. The moment man saw money could be made from breeding so called top end pedigree puppies then it all went wrong for some dogs. Thank you so much for adding the precautionary tale to #AnimalTales and apologies for taking so long to comment but the blog revamp took mist of my time this last week.

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    1. Yes, the shop owners only defence is 'we aren't doing anything illegal'. But then slavery, Apartheid, atrocities that happened in Nazi Germany - all those things were legal at one point!!

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  3. I've written before about puppy farming and I hope you got and continue getting some good support for this boycott #animaltales

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    1. We are - but of course it's still new information to some people. It's a reminder that we should all think before we buy. And also that we aren't powerless to take a stand.

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