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No charges for owner after raid on puppy farm

THE owner of a midlands puppy farm where 50 dogs were rescued from what were described as deplorable conditions by gardai and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) last November is not now expected to face charges.

It is understood that gardai have accepted that the owner had entered into the breeding venture with no experience and was overwhelmed by costs and work. He agreed to sign ownership of the dogs over to the ISPCA, which would have had to keep the dogs as evidence at a high cost if charges were to be brought.

Most of the pups have found homes but the ISPCA is still looking for owners for some of the larger breeds.

The raid on the premises is to be the subject of a TV3 programme Animal A&E showing this Thursday.

ISPCA volunteers along with gardai raided the house on November 12 last. At the time the ISPCA said the dogs and kennels were "filthy, wet and overcrowded".

The charity's chief executive Noel Griffin said yesterday: "We are only now beginning to re-home these animals as they required a lot of work and attention plus we have to ensure each animal is going to a good home. This requires a home visit in most cases which has a cost and time factor."

Mr Griffin said there had been a "great" public response towards the dogs but while most had found homes several had to be held to ensure they were ready for new homes. He said: "We know there are more puppy farms out there and we would appeal to people not to buy pets from 'buy and sell' ads and meeting people at the side of the road.

"We have had to do a great deal of work to help these dogs. Staff have been taking them home and looking after them and even after washing them time after time some still smelled bad for weeks. Some still have matted hair months later.

"There were no thoroughbreds. They were in terrible condition, literally sleeping and walking around in pee and excrement. It's been a real problem and the operation probably cost us €10,000 at a time when, like all other charities, we're facing cuts and our workload is going up and up."

He said that since the recession the number of pets being abandoned in Ireland has shot up and the ISPCA has seen significant increases in abandonments. The Longford centre is "steadily" looking after between 30 and 40 dogs, as many cats and at least 25 horses a week, he said.

He added: "People have been very good and homing the (rescued) puppies has gone well, but we have had to hold on to some and they are getting kennel stressed and need good homes."

He said the main problem was with the huskies, which he described as "very difficult" pets which people are still buying -- at prices of up to €500 for a pure bred -- oblivious to the hard work and expense of maintaining them as pets.

"We are very grateful for the public response and the exposure of this helps to highlight the issue itself and may stop the public from buying dogs from such farms.

"It also helps to create awareness of the work of the ISPCA and the struggle for funds. Unfortunately, like so many charities, demand is rocketing while donations are falling," he added.

Sunday Independent