We get contacted by a lot of people with all sorts of experiences. Some are puppy buyers, others have direct experience from within breeding facilities. What follows is an example of that kind of experience told to us by a kennel hand who worked in a Carmarthenshire Council licensed puppy farm. Conditions were so disturbing she didn’t stay after her week’s trial.
“The advert said I’d be taking care of pedigree dogs; I imagined something like a professional breeding kennel, the sort that health test and keep about 6 or so dogs. How wrong I was.
My work involved caring for a large number of dogs, of various breeds living in assorted agricultural buildings. In one there was a large breed dog in a pen so small he could barely turn around. In other pens there were numerous medium and smaller dogs. None of the pens at the rear of the building had any natural light and were in constant darkness.
Another adjoined building housed pups and whelping females of several breeds. There were approximately 4 litters on the ground when I was there. One poor bitch in this building struck me in particular. She was incredibly nervous and shied away from all contact. The single puppy left with her was already copying mum and was incredibly nervous – one step towards her and she’d run to the furthest corner.
In a cattle shed (also used for milking the few dairy cows kept on the farm) there were more pens containing dogs. Several of them were shockingly nervous, it was clear they had little human interaction. One in particular was so nervous that even with the offer of food this poor dog would choose to dart past me, cowering to the floor and quivering. Others were friendly and gentle, obviously wanting contact but were too nervous to approach me. Another really got to me: she was wonderfully tempered, welcoming strokes and kindness I gave her, but never once moved from the kennel. I placed food and water in front of the opening so she could still have something to eat and drink. Every time I visited I was greeted with a tail wag and soft eyes. I would have loved to have helped her more, and feel awful for leaving her there – but then I feel bad for leaving them all there.
Some dogs disappeared overnight. One day I’d clean out a pen housing a dog and the next day there’d be no dog in sight. I don’t like to imagine what happened to them. I was given no warning there would be no dog the next day, it was very upsetting.
In another shed with pens, there was a run attached which was never used. These dogs were not currently breeding, they were waiting for their next seasons. I was told to give them additional vitamin powder as it “brought them into season”. The dogs were frantically jumping up, some showing signs of nervous aggression.
Elsewhere there was a semi-outdoor pen, probably an old milking area. Once when cleaning out here, I had help from a family member. The dogs were different sexes and when a few escaped from their pens, she didn’t know which dogs belonged where. Rather than checking the sexes they were placed back by counting the number of dogs – for example, she asked “did this pen contain two or three dogs?”I was shocked!
I swept out the pens daily, replacing a thin layer of very fine sawdust. The beds were made of small amounts of shredded tissue paper – barely enough to cover the base. Water and food were provided twice daily in the puppy building, once a day in the other outbuildings. Water was given from old, chewed buckets which were difficult for the smaller dogs to reach. The dogs diet consisted of dried and wet food on some days. On the rest of the days they were fed on defrosted, out of date pies which had been delivered in bulk. I was told this was a cheap way of feeding them. One day a week the dogs were given a “rest day” when no food was provided.
None of the dogs were regularly walked, indeed it would have been impossible to do so, there wasn’t time with so many dogs to care for. Only two slip leads were available, none of the dogs wore collars, and to use slip leads on the smaller dogs would have been near impossible – that is if you could get any of them to venture beyond their pen door in the first place. The only interaction these dogs had was when somebody appeared to clean their pens and put down a bowl of food and water.
At the end of my stay they were awaiting a council inspection. I was told not to allow anybody into the building under any condition, no matter what anyone told me – even if they said they were from the council, and that I was to say they must make an appointment with the owner first.
The dogs were fed, watered and given some form of shelter, but nevertheless it was not a good place for dogs to live. I completed the weeks trial but couldn’t continue as I knew I couldn’t make a difference to their lives. But I can speak out and hope to make a difference that way as it really opened my eyes to the world of dog breeding. I would never wish that life, in a place like that on any dog.”
This puppy farmer is licensed by Carmarthenshire Council and operating legally. This is the terrible reality of life for breeding dogs at the hands of puppy farmers. Action to tackle the problems at source, in breeding places like this is seriously, urgently needed. Please feel free to send this blog post to your MPs to educate them and demand real, effective action for the dogs today.