Belfast City Council calls for more powers to fight puppy breeding in Northern Ireland
Belfast Council called on Stormont to empower local authorities to tackle puppy breeding by increasing breeder’s license fees and more oversight.
At the recent monthly plenary council meeting on Wednesday, a Green Party motion on a series of measures to combat the commodification of puppies through mass breeding received all-party support.
The measures were mainly appeals to the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for Stormont and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine for the Republic of Ireland.
However, one element calls for boards to have the power to increase breeder license fees and create a central database of licensed breeders across all boards, with unique identifiers assigned to each breeder.
Green Councilor Anthony Flynn forwarded the motion. He told the chamber, âOur animal welfare staff do a wonderful job in this city. They respond to complaints from citizens of this city concerned about the welfare of an animal.
“They are tracking information from Operation Delphin which includes working with HMRC and others to intercept puppies in ports, they are successfully prosecuting under the Welfare Act. animals, and I commend them for that.
“However, I think budgets are tight and this council needs more to tackle what is an extremely lucrative industry for criminals who will always go out of their way to try to avoid statutory bodies.”
He added: âThe license fees for breeding establishments, which are administered by local councils, are governed by the Animal Welfare and Dog Breeding Establishment Regulations, and the fees vary between depending on the number of female dogs kept.
âThey range from Â£ 150 for 10 breeding female dogs or less, and up to Â£ 350 for 200 female dogs, with an additional Â£ 50 for 100 female dogs thereafter.
âIn Northern Ireland there are only 45 licensed breeders, or puppy breeders, who in turn have a total of 1700 licensed breeding female dogs.
âThis is an average of 40 per registered breeder, but we know that some of the individual breeders have 100 to over 600 breeding female dogs in their establishments.
â600 breeding female dogs for a registered holder would equate to a license fee of just Â£ 550 per year. Each breeding female dog is allowed up to three litters every three years and a total of six litters in her lifetime. On the sources of income of these breeders, I’ll let you do the math.
“These fees are ridiculously low for the work required to oversee these establishments, and the minister must either review these fees or give the councils the power to change the fees themselves, as well as additional enforcement powers, by particularly in terms of surveillance. “
He said, âToday I took a quick look at some of the online sites that breeders often use. You type in “Belfast”, “dogs and puppies”, and you’ll be inundated with German Shepherd puppies for sale up to Â£ 700 each, Toy Poodle puppies for sale at Â£ 1,200 each, or French Bulldog puppies for sale up to Â£ 700 each. at Â£ 1,200 each.
âThey are all Belfast-based vendors, and furthermore, according to our own council statistics, Belfast City Council does not have any registered dog breeders in our council area. However, Belfast is specifically indicated as a location where illegal breeding has been reported to the USPCA.
He called on members of the public in Belfast to be aware of ‘unscrupulous breeders’ and to report any suspicious activity to the council’s animal welfare team or advisers.
He said: âDogs are for life, not just for Christmas. If you are planning on having a puppy, go to a local adoption center as there are plenty all over Northern Ireland with thousands of puppies deserving of a loving home.
The motion approved by the chamber states: “This council takes note of the USPCA’s ‘Puppy Dog Fortunes’ report recognizing, with concern, the scale and seriousness of the illegal puppy trade and the heinous neglect, cruelty and suffering. caused to animals.
âHe reaffirms his support for Lucy’s Law and supports the ‘Justice for Reggie’ campaign. Accordingly, the Council decides to write to the Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Marine of the Republic of Ireland to express his concerns.
The council calls on both jurisdictions to introduce Lucy’s Law, a law that started last year in England, meaning members of the public can only buy from registered breeders.
He also calls for the removal of a legal loophole that exists within the licensing of breeding establishments, which allows individuals to breed litters of multiple breeding female dogs without a license.
The motion also calls for changes to the microchip, including requiring a new unique number for puppies, linked to their breeder, so that puppies can be traced back to their point of origin and a point of responsibility.
The council also wants to make it mandatory that all breeders organize and provide documentation for veterinary visits of newborn puppies, to allow for rigorous inspections and to promote animal welfare.
Finally, the motion requires all sellers, forums and sales sites to perform breeder verification and ensure the traceability of the provenance of each animal advertised and sold, with harsher penalties for those who break the law.
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