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New laws against puppy farms to come into place in new year

By Niamh Walsh 22/12/2019

Landmark new laws stamping out the online advertising of puppy-farm dogs as family-bred pets will be introduced in the New Year.

From February 1st, it will be illegal to advertise puppies without the name and other details of the seller, microchip number and the dog-breeding establishment licence.

The change, similar to ‘Lucy’s Law’ recently passed by the UK government, is the result of a sustained campaign by animal lovers throughout the country.

The legislation will crack down on thousands of farmed pups, many of which are sick and poorly bred, being passed off as coming from loving homes.

In a statement to the MoS, Minister of State for Rural Affairs Seán Canney, said: ‘The new legislation on the sale and supply of pet animals will come into operation on February 1st, 2020.

‘Anyone selling or supplying more than five pet animals in a given year will have to register with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

‘All advertisements of pet animals will have to include certain minimum information about the pet and the seller or supplier. If the pet is a dog, the ad must include its microchip number.

The minister said other changes are now being considered including a cap on the overall number of dogs a puppy farmer can breed.

The new law is a major step forward for animal welfare in Ireland – which is regarded internationally as the puppy farm capital of Europe – and will prevent pups like Ruby from being sold and dumped.

Ruby was bred by a puppy farmer for the lucrative Christmas market; one of the many thousands sold online as Christmas presents for a partner or an excited child.

But what should have been a fairytale Christmas for an excited family became a nightmare for Ruby who was born with physical deformities due to unscrupulous breeding.

As soon her deformed legs and spine became apparent, she was deemed worthless.

The tiny puppy was dumped in a ditch in rural Limerick and left to die. Luckily a passer-by heard her pitiful whimpers: she was in tremendous pain, starving and barely able to crawl. Her rescuer took her to the Deel Animal Action Rescue in east Limerick and they saved her life.

She was then cared for by fosterer Caroline Brueder who nursed her through the worst of times and got her well enough to be adopted.

Pups sell for between €500 and €2,000, sometimes more depending on the breed, reaping millions for puppy farmers. Puppy smuggling is now the third-largest form of illegal smuggling after drugs and guns. Leading rescues here and in the UK say there is more money to be made from smuggling pups than drugs with a fraction of the risk of getting caught.

Speaking to RTÉ on Thursday Gillian Bird of the DSPCA said in our ‘disposable society’ people were upgrading dogs like mobile phones; ‘The new puppy comes in, the older dog goes to the pound.’

Ruby needs extensive orthopaedic surgery to correct fused bones and her dislocated back legs. She may also have spinal problems.

Jackie Layng, a surgeon with Village Vets has just performed the first of four surgeries from which Ruby is recovering well.

Ruby is barely a year old and has suffered too much already. She will now have a happy – and hopefully a long life – with her new family. Many others will not be so lucky.