C.A.R.I.A.D. was created following peaceful protests against an application for a 196 dog ‘puppy farm’ in Carmarthenshire. We realised that with so many wanting the same end, we would have more impact if we came together in one united campaign, not only against this particular application, but with the greater aim of seeing the end of puppy farming in Wales. We knew that, as Wales had the unenviable reputation as the hub of puppy farming in the UK, we had to try and lead the way for the rest of the UK.
Sadly, despite our efforts, this puppy farmer’s application sailed through. Our disappointment turned to outrage that this situation in Wales was being rubber stamped by both licensing officials and vets who were signing sick dogs off as being ‘fit for breeding’. We had to make it stop and expose the truth.
Our official public launch came on puppy farm awareness day 2011 at Burns Dogs Day Out in Pembrey Park. We were so encouraged by the strength of feeling at the event with people queueing up in the pouring rain to sign our petition.
On Tuesday 11th October 2011, C.A.R.I.A.D. representatives travelled to the Senedd, Cardiff and presented our hand-signed petition from the people of Wales to Alun Streeter, Head of Companion Animal Welfare in the Welsh Government and his colleague, Sian Smith from the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer. Following this, the petition was delivered by them to the then Minister, John Griffiths. Then we went to Downing Street with yet another petition which we presented in a pet carrier.
Over the years we implored Assembly Members to vote through new regulations for the puppy farm dogs with urgency. Five different Ministers over this time, led to interminable delays and endless redrafting of the new Breeding of Dogs (Wales) regulations. But we kept up the pressure on the Welsh Assembly Government.
Through sheer desperation we held a rally at the Senedd on Tuesday, 25th June 2013 insisting there were no more delays and that dogs were dying for the laws to change – literally. Only a few days later, the proposed vote on the revised regulations was again cancelled!
When the new regulations were finally approved and launched in Wales in April 2015 we knew our battle was far from over. Although an improvement on what had gone before, there was always going to be a battle for enforcement. One that continues to this day.
During our years on the ground in Wales – living amongst the puppy farming community – we have returned to the Welsh Assembly time and again to provide the Welsh government with evidence of animal welfare failings. Since the new regulations were enacted, we have returned again having charted how during the first year, the new legislation is still failing to protect the silent victims of puppy farming exploitation. Although accepting of our evidence and shocked and disappointed at our findings, we are still waiting for them to take any meaningful action on this information.
Extending our campaign for the dogs
In the last few years we have extended our fight for the dogs to Westminster, providing evidence of the failings of the Welsh Government’s new breeding regulations. The hope being that during their own consultation in England they would have a deeper understanding of where the problems lie.
With our amazing coalition partners, we have provided the Westminster Government with hard evidence, data and strategic solutions that would make a huge difference to the way the puppy trade currently operates.
We will continue to highlight the problems associated with every aspect of puppy farming and the puppy trade to anyone who is prepared to listen to the facts. And hearteningly so many now are – including the media, MPs, the public and the pet industry itself. Collaboration is the only way to succeed for these dogs and we are grateful to all those who have agreed to meet with us and work together to find solutions for better canine welfare.
A lot has changed in the world since we started C.A.R.I.A.D.
Sadly, something that hasn’t changed is the living hell these dogs are subjected to every day. But there is much to be hopeful for because there are a lot of people in high places who have listened to us and our fellow campaigners and they are now committed to ending this legalised animal abuse.
C.A.R.I.A.D. will continue to campaign, educate, support rescues and other animal welfare organisations, lobby and conduct meetings with people who can change the lives of dogs for the better until we have achieved what we originally set out to do.