By Jonathan McCambridge, PA
Animal welfare laws in Ireland need to be broadened to deal with the trade in illegal puppy smuggling, politicians have been told.
A charity representative told the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine that puppy farming was the biggest animal welfare problem that his organisation faced.
The committee was considering the impact of the 2013 Animal Health and Welfare Act, which was introduced to strengthen measures to prevent and deal with cruelty to animals.
But Brian Gillen from the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA), told members that the legislation did not cover the area of puppy farming.
He said: “It is puppy farming in Ireland that is our biggest animal welfare problem that has not been addressed properly.
“The DBE [dog breeding establishment] legislation is not administered by the Department of Agriculture.
“It would make more sense to have the Department of Agriculture take on responsibility for DBEs.”
Mr Gillen said his charity possessed evidence that a number of dog breeders registered in Ireland were involved in exporting puppies.
He added: “What that means is in terms of the trade and transport, the idea of transporting very young puppies, six to eight weeks old, across borders is abhorrent.
“It is pure cruelty as far as we are concerned.
“The whole industry is based on the concept of cruelty to animals and deception of the consumer.
“We feel the whole puppy farming area is something that is not properly addressed and we feel it is something that should be brought in under the Animal Health and Welfare Act as it refers to everything else with the exception of the DBEs, the puppy farms.”
Mr Gillen also said the legislation needed to be strengthened over animal mutilation, and said there needed to be a ban on ownership of dogs with cropped ears.