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Extraordinary failures of a broken system lead to Welsh vets under fire

Brown Labrador puppy looks up at camera
© Pixabay

Despite their encountering dogs with injuries and diseases consistent with maltreatment, some Welsh vets are not pushing for justice, writes the BBC.

By Nick Whittle, 30 Sep 2019

Welsh puppy farms are doing well at the moment. According to a report by the BBC, there are “260 licensed dog breeders in Wales producing an estimated 24,000 puppies every year.” It is thought the industry is worth around £12 million to those involved.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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By law any breeder who manages to produce from their dogs three litters or more a year is to be licensed. But in a recent investigation of the conditions of the farms, the BBC found woefully inadequate facilities and dogs in a poor state of health.

To make matters worse, vets who treat the dogs and who witness the lack of animal welfare are failing to report their findings to authorities.

Vets: a duty of care?

Despite their treating dogs with a range of illness and conditions such as matted fur, rotten teeth and skin disease, some Welsh vets are turning a blind eye to the conditions in which the dogs are being kept.

The investigation found dogs in "filthy" conditions at council-approved sites. Furthermore, some breeders who were deemed to be keeping animals in squalid conditions were continually re-licensed.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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One breeder in Carmarthenshire was discovered to have kept insufficient records, and had had an outbreak of parvovirus among his dogs. That led to one dog he sold dying in the arms of its new owner.

Of that case, Carmarthenshire council told the BBC, “We welcome any evidence from vets or consumers to help us take appropriate action where needed. We have a strong and proactive approach to enforcing dog breeding standards in Carmarthenshire."

Mitigation

In the court case that followed, the breeder’s local vet was reminded of the need to check dogs having been vaccinated for infectious diseases, and of the need to vaccinate when called on to do so.

The Carmarthenshire breeder denies any wrongdoing. “The operator is a person of clean character whose reputation within his own community and the industry is beyond reproach,” his solicitor said.

According to the BBC, “vets are part of a ‘broken’ system that has failed to address poor welfare at puppy farms in Wales.”

The Welsh government admits it faces difficulties when it comes to enforcing the law.