Puppy farm owners making ‘huge profits’ from ‘horrific cruelty’

Minister pledges to investigate Raymond Cullivan’s Misty Meadow farm

BBC Panorama secretly filmed in a large puppy farm in Co Cavan where breeding dogs were illegally being kept in cramped wooden crates. Video: BBC

 

An industrial-scale puppy farm alleged to be confining hundreds of breeding bitches in tiny cages, like battery chickens, is to be investigated, Minister of State Sean Kyne has pledged.

Mr Kyne confirmed he would look into the case after the Solidarity TD Paul Murphy identified the puppy farm highlighted in a BBC Panorama programme broadcast almost two years ago. Mr Murphy described Raymond Cullivan, owner of Misty Meadow in Co Cavan, as “possibly the chief villain who emerges from that documentary, and there’s many”.

The Dublin South-West TD has described Ireland as the puppy-farm capital of Europe, producing up to 100,000 pups a year. “This is in often industrial-scale conditions, similar to battery pigs or battery chickens,” he said, with “huge profits being made from horrific animal cruelty”.

Mr Murphy claimed Mr Cullivan’s farm “has hundreds of breeding bitches, dogs in tiny, tiny cages, not being allowed outside, illegally being kept in what are called coffin-type whelping boxes with their pups, unable to move”. He added: “Unfortunately, that isn’t just a rogue trader, an isolated incident.”

Independent inspectors

Mr Murphy called for the use of properly resourced independent inspectors, such as those of the ISPCA, because there had been inspections by Cavan County Council, which is responsible for licensing and regulating dog-breeding establishments in its area, “and they deemed everything was fine”.

Mr Kyne, who said he and his wife had acquired a breeding shih-tzu through the dog-rescue organisation Madra, said he would examine “what role there may be for independent oversight”.

He pointed out that the number of convictions of dog-breeding establishments rose from 118 in 2014 to 138 in 2016 and that prosecutions rose from 273 to 304. “The number of inspections of existing dog-breeding establishments increased from 80 in 2014 to 215 in 2016,” he said, and “improvement notices issued in respect of applications for renewal of registration rose from zero in 2014 to 10 in 2016”. “Certainly, people are more conscious of the importance of this area.”

Mr Murphy said that the ISPCA and other organisations were routinely refused access to local-authority inspection reports on such puppy farms. He suggested following the example of the Australian state of Victoria, where no dog-breeding establishment is allowed more than 10 breeding bitches.

The Minister added that guidelines on the operation of dog-breeding establishments were being reviewed after a public consultation last year and that a summary was on the dog-control section of the Department of Community and Rural Affairs website.