Saturday 20 January 2018

County council vets in 'puppy farm capital of Europe' at war with ISPCA

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Stock picture
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

The relationship between the ISPCA and vets in border counties, a region dubbed the puppy farm capital of Europe, is at breaking point after a row about dog breeding practices.

County Veterinary Officers in Leitrim and Cavan wrote to government officials asking for the ISPCA's public funding to be revoked if it continued to criticise Cavan County Council after a BBC documentary last year highlighted the mistreatment of dogs on puppy farms.

A letter by Cavan veterinary officer Michael O'Sullivan and Leitrim veterinary officer James Madden told government officials that local authority cooperation with the ISPCA needed to be reviewed urgently. They said the behaviour of the ISPCA was "disgraceful" after the organisation questioned puppy farm inspections in Cavan.

"The ISPCA are [sic] in receipt of substantial government funding through the department of agriculture ex-gratia payment system. We believe that in light of recent developments (the) department should review the funding available to the ISPCA and that a particular condition of such funding is that ISPCA refrain from direct criticism of local authority and department of agriculture veterinary officers."

However, the ISPCA said any criticism levelled at local authorities was warranted, citing footage aired last year showing breeding bitches in Co Cavan being kept in illegal conditions and wooden crates.

The letter to the Department of Agriculture by Mr O'Sullivan and Mr Madden said both men carried out joint inspections of two large puppy farms in Cavan just days after the BBC documentary was aired. They later carried out further inspections with the ISPCA. The lobby pulled its support after Cavan County Council agreed to a one-month court adjournment after a farm appealed seven improvement notices on the grounds it needed time to carry out structural work. In a reply the ISPCA said the councils acted inappropriately.

"Any criticism that is being levelled at Cavan County Council is a direct result of Cavan County Council's failure to effectively enforce the Dog Breeding Establishment Act and to effectively apply the existing guidelines," wrote ISPCA chief Andrew Kelly.

"Issuing a licence to a breeder for 300 breeding bitches despite him not having appropriate facilities or planning permission is simply unjustifiable."

Attempts to reach the ISPCA last week for further clarification were unsuccessful.

Sunday Independent

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