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Karlin
31st August 2008, 01:05 PM
They are the latest celebrity accessory, but tiny 'handbag' dogs are being bred in conditions of horrific cruelty


The cruel irony, as this report reveals, is that the early lives of many of these pets could not be further from their pampered image


The pint-sized bichon frise has a diamond-studded collar and luxury pink sweater in her wardrobe. Bichon frise, as dog enthusiasts may know, means 'curly lapdog' in French, and Daisy certainly fits neatly on Coleen's lap, under her arm or in her handbag.
Such is the popularity of 'handbag dogs' that designers such as Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci have responded by making dog carriers that resemble handbags costing from hundreds to thousands of pounds.

Geri Halliwell is rarely seen without her shihtzu, Harry; Paris Hilton has Tinkerbell, the chihuahua; Britney Spears has not one, but three chihuahuas, Lucky, Lacy and Bit-Bit.
Kate Hudson loves Pomeranians, Eva Longoria Parker prefers pugs and Jessica Simpson has a maltipoo (a Maltese poodle). Madonna, Lady Victoria Hervey, Scarlett Johansson, Venus Williams and Kelly Osbourne, meanwhile, are also paid-up members of the 'handbag dog' club.
These pampered pooches used to be the canine companion of choice of ladies who lunch. The new celebrity owners have made them popular with women of all classes - young and old - and sales have soared.
Statistics from The Kennel Club show that more than 1,700 long-coated chihuahuas alone were registered last year, up 50 per cent since 2005, along with another 1,143 of their smooth-coated cousins - an 84 per cent rise. It is a similar story for other 'toy dog' breeds.
But behind the phenomenon of 'handbag dogs' is the cruellest of ironies. The early lives of many of these pets could not be further from that pampered image. For pampering plays little part in the brutal, mercenary world of puppy trafficking.
'Trafficking' is a word normally associated with drug dealers and people smugglers. But it has been chosen by organisations like the RSPCA to describe the ruthless trade in dogs such as chihuahuas, shih-tzus and bichon frises.
It's a question of economics - supply and demand. Reputable breeders cannot meet the increased demand. Unscrupulous ones can.


They can sell to dealers for a fraction of the market price - 'handbag' puppies can cost more than £1,000 - and still make a fat profit.

It is easy to do so when such animals, reared on 'puppy farms' in Wales and Ireland, are often deprived of a proper diet, clean water, sanitation and space. Puppy farms may sound like idyllic havens. In fact, they have only one purpose: profit. Bitches are treated far worse that battery hens. At least those hens are not deprived of proper diet, clean water, sanitation and space.
By the time these poor dogs go on sale at pet shops and kennels or are advertised on the internet, they have been transported hundreds of miles in the back of a cramped van or lorry and have changed hands several times.
They spend their lives imprisoned in tiny cages






Such dogs are likely to suffer from physical deformities, behavioural difficulties and general ill-health.
We saw the evidence with our own eyes at Petsville International in Kingston, Surrey, where 20 puppies, including chihuahuas, shih-tzus and pugs, were kept in wire-mesh cages stacked almost from floor to ceiling.
One dog stood out - a chihuahua with a price tag of £1,110. It was in a pathetic state. Can animals cry? This dog certainly looked like it was. It had weepy, streaming eyes, and terrible whimpering sounds were coming from its cell - sorry, pen.
'It clearly had an eye infection, an ingrown eyelash or some eye problem,' said the ex-veterinary nurse who accompanied us to the shop.

'It also had an "undershot" jaw, which means its bottom jaw is longer than its top jaw, and it possibly had worms. The animal needs to see a vet as soon as possible.'
When asked whether the chihuahua was sick, the shop assistant replied: 'No, she's fine.'
The assistant was unable to give accurate ages for any of the puppies on display, when they had arrived in the shop and which paperwork related to which dog. There was only one thing he could say for certain: they came from Ireland.

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/08/29/article-0-0275E99E00000578-712_634x493.jpg Caged: A pug bitch on the Bolands' puppy farm in Ireland
The identity of the breeder on such documents as there were was unreadable, but it was likely to have said 'John Boland'. Or someone very much like him. John Boland Jnr runs Ireland's - possibly Europe's - biggest puppy farm with his father in County Offaly, off the main road between Dublin and Galway.
We wanted to ask him about the chihuahua back at Petsville in Kingston, and all the other godforsaken outlets he has supplied over the years, and the plight of up to 1,500 dogs kept in breeze-block sheds on his land.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Boland Jnr was not in the mood to answer any questions when we called on him this week. 'I'll tell you what you can do, you can get off my land, get out of my house, and f*** off back to England. F *** you, f*** off back to England,' he said before giving us the V-sign for good measure.
If only the stars who are inadvertently fuelling the trade in toy breeds could visit this place.
Almost every kind of dog is here. But the Bolands now specialise in the handbag variety. It's where the biggest profits are to be made, after all.

'I can get you whatever type of pup you want,' Mr Boland's father boasted to one customer recently. 'We are all in it to make money. The more pups we sell, the better.'
Do animals cry? It seemed as if this one did






The 3ft-by-3ft pens contain as many as four puppies. Some of the faces we saw peering through the mesh belonged to pugs. Shih-tzus, bichon frises and other breeds, which also appear in glossy magazines and on the red carpet with their celebrity owners, are waiting to be sold to dealers for £250 to £550.
The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) maintain the Bolands are exploiting a loophole in Irish law that allows puppy farms to operate unregulated.

In Britain, the law says a bitch over eight cannot be used for breeding and no bitch can produce more than one litter a year, and no more than six litters in a lifetime.
No such rules exist in Ireland. It's the canine equivalent of the Wild West. So bitches on the Boland farm can be used, quite legally, as breeding machines, forced to have litter after litter, leaving the mother weak, exhausted and prone to illness.
They can spend their entire lives pacing back and forth in their pens to cope with the distress and boredom. Some, say experts, even lose the ability to bark. Because no one ever comes when they do, they have simply given up trying.
Their puppies are about eight weeks old when they are sold to dealers and packed into the back of vans for the start of a gruelling journey to Britain.
The Special Operations Unit of the RSPCA intercepted one such cargo at Holyhead. Thirty dogs, including shih-tzus, had been loaded into cages and stacked in shelves in the back of a Mercedes van.
By then, they had spent two hours being driven from the Boland farm to Dublin port, another hour waiting on the quayside to board a ferry, and a further three hours on the boat.
Yet the dealer escaped prosecution because he had a fan in his van and was still under the 12-hour time.
Where was the van's final destination? The south-east of England, and businesses like Petsville International. There are similar premises in High Streets - and backstreets - up and down the country. Almost all of them now stock 'handbag dogs'.
Petsville has another branch in nearby Sutton. The shop has been forced to refund at least one customer whose dog later became ill. The council received 19 complaints - mainly concerning animal welfare - about the premises, which inspectors visited 16 times in 2006.
Another link in the Irish puppy trafficking chain can be found in a building down a dirt track in Wickford, Essex. Nearly 40 dogs are kept here, among them a bichon frise, shih-tzu and a chihuahua-cross.
This is Dobe Farm Kennels, run by Loretta Toye. Toye was unavailable when the Mail, posing as a buyer, visited to inquire about a bichon frise advertised on the internet for £450.
A young woman claiming to be her daughter insisted: 'We have all the documentation.' But when we asked to see the dog's mother, as recommended by the RSPCA, she replied: 'That's not possible. We got the dog from Ireland, from a breeder.'
Complaints against Toye, who has also used the name Bastin, go back 20 years. Dogs bought from her in the past have died within days of being collected. Others needed expensive veterinary treatment.
In 2004, Toye was prosecuted by Essex County Council Trading Standards for selling fake pedigree stock and providing bogus vaccination certificates. She was fined and banned from selling 'substandard' goods. Scandalously, many might think, she still has a pet shop licence.
So where do the stars actually buy their pets? Well, Coleen McLoughlin acquired her bichon frise from Dogs4Us in Manchester, a superstore selling everything from doggy hoodies to quilted velvet carriers.
Photographs of celebrity customers are displayed inside. The most prominent is Coleen with Daisy.
Dogs4Us, which has a sister branch in Leeds, could not be more different to the dingy outlets where many puppies like Daisy end up. The most recent accounts for Dogs4Us, covering the year to December 2006, show a turnover of more than £2.9 million.

Nevertheless, there have been complaints about the health of puppies bought from this outlet.

'The Leeds branch has been open only since the start of July, but we are already seeing up to three sick puppies a week at my practice,' said one veterinary nurse.

'That is more than we get from any other petshop in the city. Most come in suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea.'

One of the breeders which has supplied Dogs4Us is based in Wales, a notorious puppy-farming area. The breeder in question is Sylvia Jones, who lives in the hamlet of New Inn in West Wales.

Mrs Jones owns 30 breeding bitches. Puppies, including bichon frises like Daisy, are housed in a converted garage adjoining her house. The animals are kept in metal cages - three to a cage - measuring about three-and-a-half feet by three-and-a-half feet.

Some dogs are kept in the dark just to save on electricity





Mrs Jones, it should be stressed, is a licensed breeder. A licenced breeder is a breeder who is licenced by the local authority. This means they are subjected to a rigorous annual inspection.

But is this really any different from a puppy farm? The RSPCA and animal welfare group Puppy Love think not.
Breeders like Mrs Jones, who sells to 'intermediaries' rather than direct to the public, and who breeds five different breeds (most reputable breeders specialise in one or two) are, in effect, puppy farms.

Mrs Jones, a grandmother in her 60s, admitted she had 'no idea' where many of her pups end up.

Dogs4Us owner Ray McCadden said only five puppies had ever been obtained from Mrs Jones.

He denied Dogs4Us had any dealings with puppy farms, but declined to reveal the names of the breeders it does use.

'The majority of our puppies come from licensed breeders (which are subject to unannounced visits from environmental health officials) throughout the UK.

'When puppies arrive here with us they are checked by a vet, vaccinated, microchipped and monitored,' said McCadden.

'All puppies carry a six-month guarantee against congenital defect or illness. So our vet would carry out treatment free of charge.'

Even so, a Facebook group called Boycott Dogs4Us has now been formed and already has 243 members.

'The market for handbag dogs has risen because of celebrity owners,' said the RSPCA's Andy Robbins. 'But this has led to an increase in the number of unscrupulous breeders and traders.

'These people are interested only in profit, so every penny spent on bedding, food or water is seen as a waste. Some are even kept in the dark to save on electricity.'

'How much is that doggy in the window?' asks the provocative leaflet published by one animal welfare group highlighting the plight of handbag dogs.

If we didn't know the real price such animals are paying for their popularity before, we do now.
Find this story at www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1050747/How-tiny-handbag-dogs-bred-conditions-horrific-cruelty.html

Lisa_T
31st August 2008, 02:30 PM
I saw this article yesterday and was horrified - not so much by the existence of the puppy farms or the way in which the dogs were kept since I knew of both from this site, but by the fact that it's possible in the UK to buy puppies from a shop. Somehow I had the idea that was illegal here, but evidently not.

Good article though and hopefully it will feed off the anger from last week's programme and drive impetus for change.. (and encourage celebrities to look *responsibly* for puppies and declare their methods to the world - that might help raise the profile of good breeders also...).

hbmama
31st August 2008, 03:48 PM
:swear: and :(

Lisa_T
31st August 2008, 04:13 PM
BTW - on this subject Martin Clunes' show tonight is looking at pedigree dogs and the consequences of inbreeding!

Bet
31st August 2008, 04:15 PM
Could I ask this simple Question ,why was there no mention of the Dreadful State Dogs are being kept in ,in those Puppy Factories

Why is'nt CAWC and the others concerned about this disgraceful treatment of Dogs getting involved in the Welfare of Them .

Bet

Karlin
31st August 2008, 04:51 PM
A lot of groups including CAWC ARE concerned, Bet. Here in Ireland, we have formed a couple of lobby groups and many in rescue and the vet profession have put in many hours working on this issue. Speaking for myself, I have helped organise political demonstrations, produced press releases for relevant groups, written several articles for the Irish Times, and lobbied directly to relevant ministers and civil servants as well as arranged meetings for others to do this.

As for CAWC, they are currently working on a report on dog breeding in the UK:

http://www.cawc.org.uk/reports

And they have worked to influence legislation regarding puppy farms in the UK. For example:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2005/02/20767/53702

Just because a group produces a report on one area does not mean they are not focusing on others. Why would they not be interested in the puppy farm issue? They have a very broad remit.

Or look at it this way: just because you were interested in heart health in cavaliers, did it mean you weren't interested in the issue of puppy farms? Could you not work on both separately and equally? I could just as well turn around and ask, why did you spend all that time arguing for the MVD protocol when you should have been pushing the Kennel Club to stop giving KC registration to puppy farm puppies?

That's a good question for you to go ask the UK CKCS Club and the Kennel Club -- why are they not working to eliminate the ability of puppy farms and backyard breeders to register their dogs? That registration is what gives puppy farmers and BYB full legitimacy and those registrations are controlled by the Kennel Club. The KC could require that breeders all be active members of their relevant breed club before they could receive registration for their puppies, for example. Three fourths of registered puppies are registered by NON CKCS Club members. You know the majority of those are BYBs and puppy farms *in the UK*. If it requires a change to the way they operate, then why can't they change their regulations to do this?