Friday, February 25, 2011

Undercover operation to expose pet shops and farms

THE Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and animal welfare groups went undercover to inspect 35 pet shops and farms across the island over November and December 2010.

The undercover operation - a follow-up to the 'Stop the Cruelty in Puppy Mills' campaign launched in October 2010 - found that a total of 19 out of 35 establishments did not comply with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority's (AVA) standards.

These establishments have been reported to the AVA. Conditions were lacking in many establishments, from improper flooring to small cages and unsatisfactory hygiene. The survey conducted by the animal welfare members found that 79 per cent of the establishments did not provide details about the puppy's parents when asked, while 84 per cent did not allow viewing of parents. When prompted by the welfare members with basic queries on whether they could see the puppies' parents, the enquirers received these responses 'for are buying the puppy, not the parent', and 'if you can find another pet farm which allows you to see the parents, the pup is free'.

Most were not forthcoming with licence application information either, with all 13 pet farms and 33 per cent of the pet shops declining to help. A whopping 92 per cent of the farms and shops did not question prospective buyers on their knowledge of puppy care and very few shops were proactive in offering pet care tips.

Deirdre Moss, executive director of the SPCA, said: 'It is a case of puppies for profit and the results highlight the urgent need for setting higher industry standards and best practices, a robust licensing system and increasing rigorous enforcement for the trade.' The results from the undercover operation have been forwarded in a paper to the AVA with key recommendations such as improvements to flooring, abolishment of the use of water bottles, mandatory licensing at the point of sale, as well as proper counselling on pet care prior to any purchase of a pet.

Other recommendations include a, 'Think twice before you buy' poster (designed by welfare groups and endorsed by AVA) that should be prominently displayed in all shops and farms, and improvements to be made in all 19 premises that failed to meet AVA's standards. View the 'Stop the Cruelty in Puppy Mills' campaign website at