'Zero tolerance for puppy farms' as Christmas looms
Guidelines around puppy farms have been labelled out of date by a Fine Gael minister amid an appeal by animal welfare groups for officials to clamp down on the illicit sales of dogs and puppies.
Housing and Local Government Minister Damien English said industry regulations were no longer suitable and needed to be addressed.
His claims were endorsed by the ISPCA, which said standards needed to be adapted to deal with the issue.
The minister said: "The rules and regulations in other countries are more rigid than the current guidelines.
"There is general consensus that the scope of the existing guidelines needs to be enhanced as they are quite benign and represent a minimal standard that is probably no longer acceptable, particularly in view of recent issues that have arisen regarding some of the establishments."
The ISPCA issued an appeal to families who are considering getting a puppy in the run-up to Christmas.
And the charity's Carmel Murray said that it was time for a government crackdown on puppy farms. She said: "Unfortunately we have seen a lack of consistency in the enforcement of the regulations.
"It is time for a crackdown on illegal behaviour by dog breeders in Ireland and we call on all local authorities to enforce the dog breeding establishments legislation robustly and to take action where breeders fail to comply."
She said it was important that families were aware of where they were getting puppies and advised using a local rescue centre or dog pound.
The ISPCA also advised families considering buying a puppy from a dog breeder to hold off until they have checked the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group, regarding the facilities the puppy was coming from, and the animal's medical records.
Ms Murray added: "Unfortunately there are far too many internet adverts that encourage you to buy without doing your research."
Local authorities are required to maintain a register of dog breeders and the location of their farms, and make the information readily available for public inspection.
It must also include the maximum number of breeding dogs that may be kept on site but animal rights groups have complained that accessing such records can be difficult, especially in counties with a large number of breeders.
The Department of Local Government is reviewing the guidelines around dog breeders but TD Maureen O'Sullivan has urged the Government to do more.
She said: "Our pounds and shelters are overflowing and Ireland is overpopulated with dogs, yet we continue to license people to breed dogs with abandon."