In another win for animal welfare, two dog breeders operating an unlicensed “puppy farm” in Wales, UK, have been fined £400,000 for forcing female dogs to persistently produce litters despite not having a breeding license.
According to The Guardian, Karl and Victoria Shellard face 24 months in prison if they refuse to pay the fines, after their business – PosherBulls – was found to have broken regulations.
‘Puppy farm’ breach
The couple made female dogs deliver more than one set of puppies a year, breeding a total of 67 litters, Cardiff Crown Court heard.
Additionally, one pup, named Coco, was forced to produce six litters in a four-year period.
Through PosherBulls, the Shellards made £372,000 illegally from 2014 to 2020.
This was obtained by selling bulldog puppies via website adverts and social media – at between £1,500 and £20,000 per pup.
Judge David Wynn Morgan said: “You were running a puppy farm and doing it to make money. And you made a great deal of money indeed.
“You could have run an extremely profitable business if you were properly registered but you’re going to pay the price for that folly.”
Broken animal welfare laws
The couple pleaded guilty to breeding dogs without a license, as well as nine counts of failing to ensure the needs of a protected animal for which they were responsible.
They were “repeatedly” told by their local council to apply for a license for PosherBulls. But they proceeded to ignore those requests, the court was told.
Under The Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014, a person intending to breed dogs must obtain a license if they keep three or more female dogs on their premises.
They must also hold a license if they advertise a business that breeds or sells puppies from those premises.
The Puppy Contract advises potential customers to “walk away” if a business does not have a license. It states that you should also ask to see the breeder’s license number.
And, that if you are concerned it could be a puppy farm, to contact your local trading standards. You can also report it to the RSPCA.
Ethical issues of puppy breeding
According to PETA, there is “no such thing” as a responsible dog breeder, as it involves profiting at an animal’s expense.
This is because it means dogs at animal shelters lose their chances of finding a home, and are often euthanized as a result.
Moreover, many breeders do not require puppies to be spayed or neutered, meaning the animals are soon able to reproduce. And this results in “exacerbating the overpopulation crisis.”
It is especially relevant as many organizations are reporting soaring pet acquisition numbers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rise in demand for puppies amid COVID-19
The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) conducted a survey about this. It ascertained that 2.1 million people in the UK had collected a new pet over lockdown.
PFMA’s chief executive Nicole Paley said: “With millions working from home or furloughed from their jobs, many have clearly considered the numerous benefits of pet ownership.
“…Owners need to consider their pet when thinking about return to work plans, any possible future hit on finances, less time available, and the possibility of separation anxiety for their pet.
“…Sadly, there are unscrupulous breeders out there who are willing to take advantage of the rising demand.”