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Irish puppy farms raking in €27m a year

CRUEL puppy farmers are earning €27m a year in Ireland by raising around 90,000 dogs in horrendous conditions around the country.

Ireland is now known as the puppy farming capital of Europe, according to animal welfare groups, who say new legislation needs to be introduced urgently to regulate the industry.

Orla Aungier, spokeperson for the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA), told the Herald puppy farming is a massive problem in Ireland.

"It's endemic because of having no legislation and no regulation. We're talking about breeding dogs purely for commercial benefit.

"We can't estimate how many there are but very recently, in January, the Canine Breeders Association announced that puppy farms were earning €27m and 90,000 dogs were being bred."

The Breeding Establishments Bill, which would regulate and safeguard the welfare of dogs and protect the public, is currently being discussed at Government level.

Gardai and animal welfare groups currently cannot inspect farms which are suspected of being cruel, and only some puppy farms have been exposed when investigators have gone in undercover.

Ms Aungier added: "The conditions in a puppy farm really have to be seen to be believed. The dogs are bred continuously with no rest in between litters for the bitches.

"They're very cramped conditions and the dogs have little or no access to socialisation or veterinary care. They often live in a small wire cage -- that's the reality for many."

Animal welfare groups such as the DSPCA, ISPCA, Dogstrust, Irish Blue Cross, Irish Kennel Club, Veterinary Ireland are all calling for the legislation to be introduced urgently.

A spokesperson from Dogs Trust said: "Many puppy farms are known to have 500-700 breeding bitches on the one farm and, a lot of the time, people are meeting breeders on the side of the road."

Dogs Trust says the danger is that when someone buys a pup from a battery farm the dog will eventually have a lot of health problems later on.

"If they're overbred, they can have different medical problems. If someone has bought a dog for €500 from a responsible breeder they'll probably have no problems."