IF YOU WERE SHOCKED AT THE BBC ONE WALES PROGRAMME SHOWING HOW DOGS ARE LIVING IN LICENSED WELSH PUPPY FARMS YOU’LL BE EVEN MORE SHOCKED AT HOW THEY ARE DYING … AND WHY.
The failures of the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014 were revealed to a horrified audience on BBC One Wales on Monday 30th September 2019. Now, we can reveal that the way they die is even more shocking, as are the reasons why.
It has long been known that unwanted puppy farm breeding dogs that aren’t lucky enough to be handed over to rescues by puppy farmers for rehoming have an uncertain fate. Some dogs are sold on privately by puppy farmers but there are also some licensed establishments that historically have neither retired their unwanted breeding dogs to rescues nor sold them privately to other puppy farmers or advertised them for sale to members of the public.
These are the dogs that are being systematically ‘disposed’ of by means of destruction that is so brutal it is hard to comprehend how people who have made so much money out of their exploitation can sleep at night. But sleep they do. And it’s important to state that these are dogs that are not sick, nor are they emergency ‘mercy’ killings. We’ve received licensing inspection reports stating DOGS ARE DESTROYED TO GET NUMBERS DOWN because they exceed agreed licensing numbers. Others are being killed by puppy farmers when they are told they are no longer fit to breed from. But as anyone who has adopted or fostered an ex-breeding dog will know, just because they can no longer reproduce it does not mean that they aren’t able to go on to live full, happy lives when adopted. The ONLY reason puppy farmers are using bolt guns to slaughter dogs is the same reason they are kept in such appalling conditions. They just don’t care. And they don’t want the cost of humane euthanasia eating into their blood soaked profits.
Whilst the image of dogs being shot in the head with a bolt gun are hugely distressing, too distressing to show here, what will be more shocking to our nation’s dog lovers is that there are licensed establishments in Wales slaughtering dogs with bolt guns and by other horrific means without any supervision or impartial witnesses, and no intervention from local authorities or the Welsh Government because it appears that nobody knows whether a law covering this exists or which, if any, department is ultimately responsible. It is also being caused by flimsy wording in the current regulations which is easy for puppy farmers to ignore.
Within the Government’s current guidance framework, the exact wording reads:
Dog Breeding Establishments
Guidance for Local Authorities
Welsh Ministers Guidance to Local Authorities issued pursuant to Regulation 13 of the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014
4.7 Strategy for the retirement of breeding bitches and stud dogs. Local Authorities should consider the licence holders strategy for dealing with retired dogs including means of disposal and/or methods of re-homing that ensures the welfare of the dog as far as possible.
For the last 12 months C.A.R.I.A.D. has been researching why dogs are being systematically killed by certain puppy farmers in Wales without any apparent way to stop them. And in the last 12 months alone we know of at least 125 breeding dogs being bolt gunned from just three licensed puppy farms in West Wales alone. Because of the secretive nature of puppy farming it’s impossible to know ahead of time when dogs are going to be killed so the true numbers of dogs slaughtered in these farms right now can never be known.
Our story broke on this yesterday in the Western Mail and we’re grateful to Martin Shipton for meeting with us and talking through our evidence to help expose this travesty of animal welfare. However, with only limited space available in the paper, there was much that he couldn’t fit in to the article. So we’d like to tell you some of the other things that we have discovered in the last year which are hard to believe.
- Firstly, you don’t require a licence to buy or use a bolt gun. Bolt guns were declassified as Firearms in February 1998.
- Although you require a Certificate of Competency to operate a bolt gun on livestock we have found nobody who could clarify whether you need a Certificate of Competency to use a bolt gun on a companion animal.
- In April 2010 the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons stated that the use of captive bolt guns to kill dogs is unacceptable.
- Over the last 12 months we have been in contact with certain councils regarding large scale slaughter of breeding dogs by their licensed puppy farms using bolt guns, and more recently we sent out FOIs and emails to councils across Wales regarding the issue of the killing of dogs by licensed establishments. Some councils referred us to the police. Others referred us to the Animal Health and Plant Agency while others told us to contact the Food Standards Agency! In all cases, we reached a dead end because nobody knew where responsibility for dogs on this lies.
- One council explained more about the use of bolt guns stating: “It should always be remembered that captive-bolt devices are percussive stunners, not humane killers, and stunning should always be followed by immediate bleeding or pithing to ensure death.” This of course is in relation to their use on livestock. Again, nothing on the use of bolt guns on companion animals.
- We wrote to the Welsh government and although we have received an email stating they are happy to answer our questions, at the time of posting, we still await these answers.
We can only deduce from our research that nobody is responsible for the way these dogs are being killed which is hard to comprehend or accept. Even the Animal Welfare Act 2006 doesn’t seem to offer any protection for them.
With the current broken licensing system about to be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary, there has never been a better opportunity to stop this slaughter of the innocents. It is hard to even imagine the terror and suffering of these dogs at the hands of people who show so little mercy for them in life and so little regard for them in death. Can you imagine a Bichon, a Cavalier, a Chihuahua, a Schnauzer just as a few examples of dogs being killed like this right now having one of these terrifying weapons held against their heads and fired? It is a gut-wrenching thought for any dog lover isn’t it? But it’s happening. Please help us to stop it.
What C.A.R.I.A.D. is calling for as part of the Cabinet Secretary’s urgent review of the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014 is that current Guidance ‘Strategy for the retirement of breeding bitches and stud dogs’ is revised as follows and becomes a mandatory part of licensing conditions:
Every dog’s life and death must be accounted for and documented, including the method of transfer or euthanasia. The word ‘disposal’ must be removed within the Guidance wording. We dispose of rubbish, not sentient creatures!
Regardless of whether a breeder is being made to downsize because they have too many dogs in relation to their licence or otherwise, or whether the dogs are declared no longer fit to breed from by a vet, there must only be three options for the ‘retirement’ of these dogs which are:
- handing the dogs in to a recognised rehoming organisation
- if sold on to the public, that the breeder must ensure these dogs are spayed/neutered prior to sale and that the sale is recorded and documented with details of the purchaser on the licensing inspection report in addition to requirements of The Microchipping of Dogs (Wales) Regulations 2015 which state:
Change of keeper
8.—(1) From 6 April 2016, where a dog is transferred to a new keeper, the new keeper must, unless the previous keeper has already done so, record their full name, address and contact telephone number (if any) and any change in the dog’s name with the database on which the dog’s details are recorded pursuant to regulation 3(5)(b).
(2) From 6 April 2016 no keeper may transfer a dog to a new keeper until it has been microchipped unless a certificate issued under regulation 3(2) or 3(3) states that microchipping would significantly compromise a dog’s health.
- if a dog is deemed by a qualified veterinary professional to be beyond veterinary help that they are humanely euthanised by a vet and this is recorded and documented with the details of the vet, date and location on the licensing inspection report
We can only hope that the wider canine welfare world will support our campaign to end this slaughter. But the dogs need more than hope. They need action and they need it now. Will you help us to help these poor dogs by contacting your AM and local councillor today? If you’ve already contacted your local councillor in the past about puppy farming or Lucy’s Law, you will probably find that they will be equally horrified by this deathly loophole. Please feel free to use any of the contents of this post in your own correspondence urging them to raise this issue with the Cabinet Secretary as a matter of urgency.
You can find details of your local Councillor by visiting your local council website.
You can find details of your Assembly Member here: http://senedd.assembly.wales/mgFindMember.aspx
IMPORTANT: In response to our article in the Western Mail a Welsh Government spokesman said: “The Animal Welfare Breeding of Dogs (Wales) Regulations 2014 came into force in April 2015 and, as is the normal procedure, regulations are regularly reviewed. The minister has asked the Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group for a review to consider if the regulations are fit for purpose.”
The Government promised a review after one year, which didn’t happen, then after two years, again this didn’t happen. We are now in the fifth year and finally a review is happening. HOWEVER, we are disturbed to hear that a review is being undertaken by the Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group, a group whose membership includes key members of the farming community (including a former National Farmers Union President), vets who themselves are farmers and one member who sits on the Canine & Feline Sector Group. Here’s why we simply can’t understand the relevance of consulting with this group:
“The aim of the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group is to ensure healthy livestock are kept to high standards of welfare and lower the risk of the spread of animal diseases.”
Dogs are not livestock and in this country are not part of the food chain. So how is this group’s opinion relevant to dog welfare? And how could this group possibly be impartial enough to “consider if the regulations are fit for purpose.”?
Finally, the issue of using bolt guns on dogs is not new and our friends at Caged NW have been fighting hard for it to be banned for many years. Whether domestic pets or racing greyhounds the issue is the same – it’s all about DOGS and we are so grateful to our friends at Caged NW for giving us permission to use the hashtag #BanTheBolt
We look forward to campaigning with them further on this issue.
Click on the link below to read the Western Mail article.