I will keep my remarks brief. I am concerned that a number of people no longer think that owning a dog, or indeed any pet, is a serious long-term commitment. That is shown by one statistic on dog ownership in the UK, which is that according to the RSPCA, one fifth of those who have bought a puppy within the last two years no longer own that dog. The definition of a commodity is
“a marketable item produced to satisfy consumer wants or needs”,
but puppy farmers consider only the wants or needs of the consumer. The wants or needs of their marketable item are irrelevant.
Britain is known across the world as a nation of pet lovers, but allowing the battery farming of puppies is cruel to the bitches involved and to their puppies. They are too frequently taken away from their litters far too early, unsocialised, traumatised and have health and temperament problems. With such a poor start in life, it is little wonder that they do not always settle easily into the families who buy them with such great hopes.
Allowing puppies who should become much loved family members to be traded as a commodity means that it is not only the dogs that lose out. People have also lost money, but many will also have lost their faith in dogs. The RSPCA, the Dogs Trust and smaller dog rescue charities such as Friends of the Animals and Bracken’s Dog Rescue on the Isle of Wight, pick up the pieces. All those excellent charities know only too well that puppy farms add to the problems. Too many dogs, many of whom are still young, need good, loving homes, which are harder and harder to find. We should therefore look carefully at reducing the number of litters. Many people think that two a year, rather than five, is the appropriate number to license. Local authorities should prosecute every time they find bad practice in licensed breeding premises.
Sentencing guidelines should make clear that practices typically associated with puppy farming are a serious criminal offence. Someone convicted of cruelty or poor dog breeding should be barred from holding a licence or working in any dog breeding establishment. Only then will we be able properly to tackle the cruel practices and horrible repercussions of puppy farming.