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Local MLA supports USPCA report on NI Puppy Trade

Pictured at the launch of the report is USPCA Chief Executive Brendan Mullan, MLA Robin Newton, Dr Marc Abraham OBE, and MLA John Blair.

South Antrim MLA, John Blair, backs the launch of a report which exposes Northern Ireland’s ruthless, multi-million pound puppy trade. Mr Blair addressed attendees at the official launch of the report at Stormont on Wednesday (20 October).

Launched by local animal welfare charity, the USPCA, the report entitled ‘Puppy Dog Fortunes’ provides an insight into the operations of legal breeders, illegal breeders, transporters, and third-party sellers, all of whom are desperate to cash in on the multi-million-pound industry at the expense of defenceless companion animals.

The report calls for enhanced regulation and better enforcement action to address the serious issues and loopholes currently being exploited by individuals involved in the trade. In the last two years alone, the industry’s scale has rocketed, with the report citing Covid-19 as ‘fanning the flames’ on the demand for pups, with average prices reaching £2,000 each.

Commenting on the report, John Blair MLA and Chair of the All Party Group on Animal welfare, stated:

“Northern Ireland is lagging behind the other jurisdictions on these islands in terms of crucial animal welfare legislation and there is an urgent need to crack down on illegal puppy farms.

“I welcome the USPCA's report, Puppy Dog Fortunes, on illegal puppy trade. The report provides vital insight into the operations of illegal breeders and is a positive step towards tackling puppy farming and other animal abuses.”

Brendan Mullan, USPCA Chief Executive, said:

“We have a very grave issue at hand which is causing unthinkable suffering to the thousands of dogs who are only seen as commodities by those engaged in this cruel trade, both legally and illegally.

“Northern Ireland has at least 45 licensed breeding establishments – one of which we are aware has nearly 700 breeding bitches and apparently only 10 members of staff. This staffing ratio causes great concern for the welfare of the animals involved.”

Brendan continued: “The illegal side of the puppy trade in Northern Ireland represents a sophisticated, inter-connected web of criminal activity. There is significant need for targeted and focused enforcement in respect of all groups and individuals involved – the illegal breeders, transporters and dealers.”

Intelligence gathered by the USPCA indicates the profitability of the industry. Based on the movements of a single ‘licensed’ pet transporter, who is estimated to beillegally transporting 120 pups a week, this represents a prospective value of £11.7million over the period of a year.

“This is a cruel money-making industry that demonstrates noregard for the welfare of animals. This report aims to shine a much-needed light on the issue, as the first step in tackling it involves recognition of the scale and seriousness of the problem.

“We fear that this industry is teetering dangerously on the edge of being uncontrollable in the absence of more effective regulation and enforcement,” Brendan added.


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