The reason we are so adamant that the biggest impact on bringing the barbaric industry of puppy farming to an end is through banning the selling of puppies in pet shops and by other third parties such as puppy dealers, is really very simple.
Puppy farmers use third parties to sell their mass produced puppies. Why? Because it’s convenient. Because it saves time. Because it means they can’t always be traced as the birthplace of puppies if they become sick or die. And, most importantly, because they don’t want Joe and Jane Public setting foot on their land.
As was proven in this excellent article by The Mirror’s Andrew Penman [click here], the public currently have no access to the majority of puppy farms. Not because of their locations, but because these farmers use the excuse of ‘health and safety’ and ‘farm machinery’ to ensure there’s no public entry and therefore no public transparency of what really goes on behind barn and shed doors.
Let’s face it, the last thing puppy farmers want is year round public scrutiny when at the moment they only have to clean up their premises and move sick and dying breeding dogs to other farms for a once yearly local authority inspection. An inspection that we can prove is flawed to the point of being almost worthless.
Imagine if puppy farmers had to keep things ‘presentable’ every day of the year? Imagine if the public could see how the mothers of these internet and newspaper classified advertised pups were really being kept … what their physical and psychological state was like and stare into the eyes of these shut down and terrified dogs? People may still buy the odd puppy in the belief they were saving it, but they’d also immediately report their concerns about the mothers and littermates to the authorities and campaign groups.
And word travels fast. People talk about their experiences good and bad. All it takes is one horrified puppy buyer to see the truth and that establishment’s reputation is in trouble. With all that pressure on these breeding establishments two things would most likely happen. One is that it all becomes too hard to be a puppy farmer and they sell up and get out altogether. The other is that they improve their establishments and animal husbandry to such an extent that they cease to be classified as puppy farmers and become high welfare commercial breeders. The latter may be a stretch but hey, who knows?
Ah but wait. There’s another problem. At the moment these puppy farmers are selling puppies for a pittance … in some cases for as little as £80 each. For the lack of time and effort they put into raising these puppies, that’s still a pretty good profit. But the real winners here are the puppy dealers. They hold pet shop licences which allow them to buy in these puppies and then sell them on to other puppy dealers, pet shops or direct to the public. Now that same £80 puppy is being sold for around £300+. The longer the supply chain, the more the cost of that £80 puppy goes up until it reaches you the consumer. In a high street pet shop for example, that £80 puppy, which will have travelled hundreds of miles and changed hands several times may now cost you anything from £700 to over four figures.
And here’s the real kicker. The reason this is a problem is that it ensures puppy farmers can never afford to improve conditions sufficiently to make it possible for them to sell puppies directly to the public in the first place. So third party selling actually perpetuates the existence of an industry that everyone wants to see eradicated. (Well nearly everyone – plenty of criminals definitely want it to continue!)
How anyone can think this sort of puppy supply chain is good for either dogs or the public is astonishing. And yet, there are still those who think a ban on third party puppy selling isn’t worth fighting for because it’s ‘idealistic’. Damned straight it’s idealistic. It’s our job to fight for an ideal world for our sentient, voiceless friends and not lower our sights and give in to what naysayers think is more ‘pragmatic’ and more convenient.
A third party ban isn’t the only part of the whole solution. There are many other improvements which we support. But as the most significant and decisive action that can be taken – an action that would starve puppy farmers out of business – we’re standing firm on pushing for a ban with Lucy’s Law because, quite frankly, without this in place, all the other excellent recommendations won’t achieve the intended aim which is surely to end the cruelty of puppy farming and the hugely damaging trade in puppies.