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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 07:28 GMT
Protest against puppy farm grants
Great Dane puppies
Breeding pedigree pups can be a lucrative business
Dog breeders and animal welfare campaigners opposed to grants being given to farmers take their protest to the Welsh assembly on Wednesday.

Organisations including the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust - formerly the National Canine Defence League - will man an exhibition in the milling area of the assembly headquarters.

They will be hoping to persuade AMs to change their policy of offering grants to farmers to diversify into commercial dog breeding.

Farming Connect provides assistance towards helping convert premises into breeding establishments, but there is widespread concern that it could lead to exploitation in some cases.

I hope the assembly will see sense and change this absurd policy
Alun Cairns AM
Dog experts argue that breeding is a specialist skill which takes years to practice and there is concern that commercial practices could lead to an increase in health problems due to some inherited conditions in pedigree animals.

Many want the grant scrapped, claiming there were already too many unwanted dogs.

In September, a 15,000-name petition objecting to the grant aid was presented to the assembly.

So far, only two grants have been awarded. Both, according to Carwyn Jones, minister for the environment, planning, and countryside, were "experienced breeders producing high-quality animals for family pets".

Alun Cairns, Conservative AM for South Wales West, has backed the campaigners.

He is hoping that the assembly exhibition will give fellow AMs more information about dog breeding and the dangers of large-scale breeding ventures.

Puppies
Too many puppies are already looking for homes
" With organisations such as the Kennel Club, Dogs Trust and other respected members of the canine world providing information about the dangers of large-scale breeding, I hope the assembly will see sense and change this absurd policy," he said.

"Animal sanctuaries and rescue centres across Wales are already inundated with unwanted and stray dogs so what will happen to the unwanted puppies which result from the over-production that is inevitable in commercial ventures?"

< The campaigners dealing with the stray dogs cost 1.3m every year in Wales and nearly 13,000 strays were destroyed by local authorities throughout the UK over the same period.

Karen McGarrigle, co-ordinator of the Say No to Puppy Farms campaign said: "While we sympathise with the plight of the farmers affected by the foot-and-mouth outbreak, raising a puppy that is going to live with your family requires a far different approach to that used for rearing and animal destined for the meat market.

"There are already far too many stray dogs in this country and people should not be paid to breed any more dogs," she added.

"We will keep on fighting this until it is stopped even if that takes us 20 years," she said.




SEE ALSO:
'Puppy farm' grant row
13 Jun 03  |  South East Wales
'Huge rise' of puppy farming
26 Aug 03  |  Wales
Fine for puppy trafficker
11 Nov 03  |  Northern Ireland


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