Maureen O’Sullivan hits out at dog breeding industry

Independent TD highlights ‘absolute squalor’ and calls for Revenue audit of puppy farms

Maureen O’Sullivan said it took a BBC programme, which highlighted the activities of a farm in Co Cavan, to force any action from local authorities. Photograph: Alan Betson

Maureen O’Sullivan said it took a BBC programme, which highlighted the activities of a farm in Co Cavan, to force any action from local authorities. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

County managers have been accused of breaching the law and failing to act against puppy farms which can have up to 500 dogs on them in “absolute squalor”.

Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan said counties Carlow, Cavan, Cork and Limerick were particularly bad and while local authorities had “ample grounds” to take action, “nothing has been done”.

Ms O’Sullivan, an animal rights campaigner, said the dog breeding industry was worth an estimated €350 million a year but only €95,000 had been collected last year in registration fees.

She said there were 200 licensed dog breeders which meant each must be earning up to €1.75 million.

In a trenchant attack on the failure of authorities to act, Ms O’Sullivan called for a targeted audit by the Revenue Commissioners to ensure breeders maintained records to ensure proper taxes were paid.

Ms O’Sullivan said it took a BBC programme, which highlighted the activities of a farm in Co Cavan, to force any action from local authorities. And she said the farm in question had been passed by a county vet.

She questioned what rules local authorities had for dealing with dog waste on a farm with between 200 and 500 dogs.

“Where are the guidelines for the disposal of that,” she asked. “It cannot go into a normal septic tank. It cannot be spread on the ground and there are dangerous consequences if it goes out into the atmosphere.”

Hitting out at the failure of local authorities to deal with what she described as the “absolutely scandalous treatment of dogs”, the Dublin Central TD said when county councils carry out inspections they are by appointment with several weeks’ notice.

She said if the premises are non-compliant “they are given an improvement notice and invited to comply”.

Regulatory framework

Ms O’Sullivan said there might be a robust regulatory framework in place but “that is on paper and is not being seen in action”.

She pointed out that the more popular the breed “the more they are churned out by the breeders” and with serious health problems.

“One year it was Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Another year it was Yorkshire terriers. The latest are Dalmations and huskies, all very cute as pups but they have much greater needs when older and they are being brought to pounds and rescue centres afterwards.”

Minister of State Damien English said it was a matter for the enforcement of authorities, and local authorities could issue a closure notice if a serious and immediate threat existed to public or animal health and welfare.

Mr English said the Department of Local Government, an expert group within the local authority veterinary services and other expert stakeholders were conducting an ongoing review of the dog breeding establishment guidelines.

They would take time to address a number of the issues Ms O’Sullivan raised, he said.

A large number of organisations participated in a working group to draft the revision of the guidelines.

He said the guidelines would go to Minister for Local Government Simon Coveney shortly and all these issues would be addressed.

“We will publish new guidelines in the near future,” Mr English added.