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Shocking puppy farm scandal exposed

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A SHOCKING BBC Wales documentary screened on Monday night (Sept 30) laid bare the extent of the puppy farming scandal in West Wales.

This newspaper has repeatedly reported on the cruelty of puppy farming and the Lucy’s Law campaign and is not surprised by the content of the BBC Wales Investigates programme, anchored by Wyre Davies.

With the resources at its disposal, BBC Wales was able to dig deeper into links between breeders, vets, and how licensed premises are permitted to keep open despite serious animal welfare issues.
SYSTEMIC FAILURES IN ANIMAL WELFARE

One veterinary practises, Towy Vets of Carmarthen, was shown to have listed a dog as fit for breeding even though it also recorded it as dead. Animals as young as three months old were also shown as ready for breeding.

A breeder based in Carmarthenshire, Alun Douch, alleged that he had administered the parvo-virus vaccine to animals himself, having bought it from Towy Vets.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon rules provides that a dog can only be vaccinated after a medical inspection by a qualified vet.

The medical records for the parvo vaccine’s administration must have been lacking as Mr Douch later sold a puppy to a Swansea woman which had to be destroyed because it suffered from the highly contagious and lethal disease.

When the dog’s buyer contacted the breeder, Alun Douch of Tywi Vale, Nantgaredig, she alleged that Mr Douch offered to administer antibiotics to the animal.

A Council inspection document revealed that there was an ongoing problem with parvo-virus at Mr Douch’s breeding establishment.

The same document-related that an inspector had seen Mr Douch kick a dog during the inspection.

Mr Douch continued holding a licence in spite of that incident.

In a statement to the BBC, solicitors acting for Mr Douch denied ‘any cruelty to any animal’.

An expert panel assembled by the BBC which examined the cases used in the programme expressed serious concerns about animal health and welfare and questioned the rigour of the inspection regime and enforcement.

The BBC report that a senior vet – Mike Jessop – who is brought in by local authorities to advise on welfare issues, told the broadcaster there were clear examples where some professional colleagues have been “found wanting”.

He said he would be making a referral to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons regarding the evidence in the programme.

In a statement on its website, Towy Vets said: ‘In relation to the BBC Wales Investigates television programme broadcast on 30th September 2019, a specific health report given to a Carmarthenshire licensed breeder was referenced. We are unfortunately unable to discuss client cases and share any of the background detail to the referenced report, and handwritten notes on that report.

‘Towy Vets passionately believe that breeding should be done within strict animal welfare guidelines and expect our vets to follow the RCVS code of conduct. We would welcome further dialogue with Carmarthenshire Council on the regulation of breeding.’

MP CALLS FOR DECISIVE ACTION

In 2018, Carmarthenshire became one of the first local authorities in Wales to adopt Lucy’s Law.

Lucy’s Law aims to ban third-party puppy and kitten sales, ensuring stronger protections for animals.

However, the problem in West Wales appears to be not only with unlicensed breeders but also with the activities of licensed ones.

Jonathan Edwards MP, who wrote to the Labour Welsh Government to address the poor animal welfare issues raised on the programme, developed that point.

Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards said: “My constituents are very concerned that this remains an ongoing issue in Wales. It is my understanding that these terrible events took place on licensed premises. It appears that licences have been issued to people who do not have the welfare of these dogs at heart.

I have written to the Welsh Government to press them for immediate, decisive action to stop these farms from operating in such a terrible manner. An investigation is also required for these unscrupulous activities. It seems clear to me that the current regulations under this government are inadequate.”

AM QUESTIONS ‘FAILING’ SYSTEM

Mid and West Regional Labour AM Joyce Watson raised the harrowing programme in First Minister’s Questions in the Senedd.

Ms Watson commended the BBC for showing ‘cruelty beyond belief in council-registered puppy farms’.

The AM continued: “It showed hundreds of dogs living in filthy, dark, damp and cold conditions. These premises are inspected annually by inspectors and vets, people who are supposed to prioritise the welfare of the animals.

A number of premises have been inspected and found wanting, with breaches concerning poor animal welfare logged by inspectors and vets.

This wasn’t a one-off, they had consistently failed to meet recommendations and had been issued with warnings. Despite this, no action was taken against the breeders and licences were reissued year on year.

In some instances, not even basic needs were being met, such as in one site near Llandysul that featured in the programme.”

In that case, a dog was given to undercover workers from a rescue charity. After a vet inspected the animal, a dead puppy was found undelivered and emergency surgery needed to save the animal’s life.

Joyce Watson continued: “The legislation that is in place to protect these dogs is failing. The sheer volume of upheld complaints suggests that something is radically wrong in this process. Minister, I’d like to know what immediate action the Welsh Government are taking, in light of this report, to protect the welfare of both the puppies and the adult dogs at the puppy farms featured in this programme. And it’s clear to me, from the response that I’ve had swiftly overnight, that these authorities are overwhelmed.”

Responding on the Welsh Government’s behalf, Trefynydd Rebecca Evans told AMs she and other AMs shared Joyce Watson’s horror at the programme’s content.

Ms Evans said: The Minister for Environment and Rural Affairs [Lesley Griffiths AM] has written — or intends to very shortly — to veterinary bodies, and also to local authorities about this specific issue. She’s meeting with the chief veterinary officer tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct 2). But I also know that the Minister intends to ask the animal welfare framework group to revisit the current breeding regulations to improve welfare conditions at breeding establishments.”

TIME IS THE KILLER

How long that will take is anybody’s guess, in the meantime animals are still suffering in both licensed and unlicensed puppy farms in Carmarthenshire and elsewhere.

An illustration of the current regulatory regime’s shortcomings is shown by the case of Sylvia Griffiths, the owner of Glenview Kennels in Llandyfaelog, who continued to breed and sell puppies despite being refused a licence by Carmarthenshire County Council.

Griffiths held a breeding licence for Glenview since 1998, originally granted for up to 23 adult dogs.

However, when she applied to renew her licence in July 2016, animal health officers visited and found 74 adult dogs on the premises in overcrowded conditions with no free access to exercise areas.

Despite being given time to address conditions and warned that a failure to bring about necessary improvements to animal welfare, when council officers returned to her premises in December 2016 they found that conditions had not improved sufficiently to permit Griffiths to continue holding a licence.

Notwithstanding the officers’ findings, Griffiths continued to defy the law and breed dogs for sale.

It took a complaint from a concerned customer in May 2017, however, for the Council to take further action.

It was over a year later, on July 20, 2018, that Griffiths was ordered to pay £13,500 in fines and costs for continuing to breed and sell puppies illegally.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Linda Brokkes

    October 2, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    The mass production of puppies for profit on a commercial scale needs to be banned outright. There are puppy farmers in Wales who are licensed to keep anything up to 60+ breeding bitches. How on earth can anyone look after that many dogs and their puppies, making sure they’re groomed, exercised and kept in comfortable sanitary conditions. Sadly this has been going on for years and nothing appears to have changed. The Welsh Government and local councils make a pretence of being horrified by the findings of these undercover investigations while the public spotlight is pointed at them, but then allow this sordid trade to continue once the public’s attention is turned elsewhere. I saw a recent planning application to Ceredigion County Council for another huge purpose built puppy breeding facility. No doubt another opportunist looking to make thousands while their poor dogs are bred at every season with no regard for their health or welfare.

  2. Avatar

    Bob

    October 15, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Mr Douch is still trading as the Director of Tywi Vale Ltd and has a persuasive looking website https://www.tywivale.co.uk/
    Should be banned and website taken down.

  3. Avatar

    Jos

    January 24, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    A group of us raised the money to buy a three and a half year old Airedale bitch from this man, We arranged foster care and rehoming. Alun Douch met the foster carer at Worcester, where she was hauled out of the Boot of his car by the scruff of her neck and handed over, she was frightened and filthy, he said he was going to give her a shower but didn’t have time. She was in a terrible state mentally and physically. Her paws were so impacted with muck she was having difficulty in walking, her coat was matted and filthy. It took a lot of time and patience for her wonderful foster to bathe and groom her. She had not been bred as apparently the stud dog proved to be infertile. She was nervous ofmany things.
    She is now in her forever home, but still has many issues..
    Alun Douch needs to be accountable for his neglect of god knows how many dogs he has at his establishment. Their suffering continues.
    We have photographic evidence of her journey.

  4. Avatar

    Njgel JOHN

    April 17, 2020 at 10:35 am

    I bought a cavapoo puppy from this breeder last year for £1250. The puppy was only with us for one night before it became seriously ill. Alan Douch took the puppy back he stated he would give her anti biotics. The puppy died a few days later. Alan Douch said that i would have to claim the cost of the puppy back through insurance which took weeks to sort out. We were stopped from seeing the puppy during her first 8 weeks by various excuses from Alan Douch the alarm bells should have rung. Warning to everybody out there do not go anywhere near this so called breeder.

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HONK for hope is being backed by the coach operators surrounding the South West Wales area. 

They took to the roads around Haverfordwest, Carmarthen, and Cardigan in peaceful protest to support the call for help by coach operators during the corona virus pandemic.

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Waters tells Welsh Tories to “Get Serious” in Senedd debate

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LLANELLI’S Member of the Senedd Lee Waters has criticised the Welsh Conservatives for trying to score points from the coronavirus crisis.

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