A long-running campaign against puppy farming in Wales has warned of the devastating impact of the boom in dog sales over the pandemic.
Linda Goodman, founder of the Welsh-based CARIAD campaign group, said rescue shelters are bracing themselves to receive a wave of lockdown puppies and ex breeding dogs in the coming months.
Founded more than 10 years ago, the team behind CARIAD have been campaigning to stop puppy farms and puppy dealing by calling for changes in legislation and public education.
Thanks to their hard work, as well as the work of fellow animals rights campaigners, a new law has recently been passed in Wales banning the third party sale of puppies and kittens, meaning the animals must be sold at the premises where they have been bred.
Breeders will also now need to apply for a license through their local authority, who in turn will inspect their premises. You can read more about the changes in the law, which comes into effect in September, here.
But while CARIAD have welcomed the changes, Ms Goodman also warned of the consequences to come in the next few months after a record-high demand for puppies over the course of the pandemic.
Join our brand new website TeamDogs now.
When you get there, make sharing a picture of your dog in our Top Dogs feed your very brilliant first job.
Maybe when you’ve done that, leave a recommendation to help fellow dog owners in the TeamDogs community.
Ms Goodman said: “There’s probably about a million, a million and a half new dog owners now in the UK. Unfortunately a lot of those puppies were bought by people who wanted a quick fix to keep them company. Some of those people have now gone to work or they were probably low welfare puppies, they came in with behavioural problems, they haven’t been able to socialise during the pandemic anyway, and so they are surrendering them or worse they’re selling them on.
“I just feel like the last year has been a desperately bad time for animal welfare for dogs because of public behaviour. We used to say you can’t educate stupid, that was the phrase that everyone would use, but it’s not even about that anymore, you just can’t educate selfish. That’s what a lot of behaviour has come down to and now it’s down to rescue centres to pick up the pieces with these dogs which are all under a year old, they are still puppies.
“They’ve been coming in for a few months now, people handing their puppies over from anything from three months old to six or seven months old. During the pandemic there was plenty of opportunity for people to breed and have puppies available so a lot of people cashed in on that. The prices that people were prepared to pay were phenomenal prices that simply can’t be sustained because that demand was a fake demand.”
As well as puppies bought over lockdown, Ms Goodman said animal charities are also bracing themselves for ex breeding dogs that will be handed in before the changes to the law come into effect. In these cases, the dogs can require expensive specialist support to deal with medical and behavioural issues.
She said: “What happened was a lot of puppy farm breeding dogs were destined to be handed in just as lockdown happened and they held them back to breed more from them. So it means a lot of dogs that were already exhausted, and had been bred almost to death, will have had another litter churned out from them, at least one, and so god knows what state they will come in like.
“They will either up their standards and become commercial breeders rather than puppy farms, there is a slight distinction, because they won’t be able to be licensed under the new regulations and then the ones who have decided it’s all too hard to continue will either get out or downsize it at the very least because it’s not going to be lucrative for them. So hopefully those dogs that were held back that should have come in a year ago will now come in and that’s where a lot of the rehabilitation expense is going to be because these are dogs that will need veterinary care, behavioural help and a lot of fosters.”
On May 2, CARIAD announced their decision to dissolve the campaign group after a decade of work. Now run by Ms Goodman and Sue Davey, the pair will continue to work behind the scenes with other campaign groups and charities before announcing their future plans in the coming months.
Ms Goodman, who has received death threats and threats to her security over the years due to her work, said: “We did think long and hard about this for quite a while. I think we felt CARIAD as a campaign has done as much as it could do in its current format. We’ve achieved a lot, I think it’s fair to say in that time – it’s been over 10 years in September. I think it will start to show a lot of the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes when the new legislation comes in.
“As a campaigner the time has gone so fast, I can’t believe I was 10 years younger when I started, I don’t know where that time has gone. It’s only really in the last 12 hours I’ve been very emotional about it because the messages we’ve had have been so fantastic, people thanking us for what we’ve done, saying we’ve left a legacy, you don’t think about that. When you’re doing it you’re only focused on the dogs.
“I’m proud of the team past and present and I’m just glad we’re able to actually make a difference, that’s the one thing you want as a campaigner, to make a difference.”
As they are no longer taking donations, CARIAD are now encouraging people to support animal charity Friends of Animal Wales instead and their appeal to create a centre for the rehabilitation of additional needs animals. You can find out more here.