Advocates want laws with teeth to tackle puppy mills
... call for dog breeding to be restricted to qualified handlers
Noting that many individuals are putting profit above the welfare of dogs, some local veterinarians and animal rights advocates are calling for legislation to restrict commercial breeding to licensed and trained people. “Dogs [are] dying, injured,...
Noting that many individuals are putting profit above the welfare of dogs, some local veterinarians and animal rights advocates are calling for legislation to restrict commercial breeding to licensed and trained people.
“Dogs [are] dying, injured, abandoned from people, who just do the things that they think is correct or that they think is sound,” veterinarian Dr Gavin Hall noted in a Gleaner interview.
While The Keeping of Animals Act, The Cruelty to Animals Act, and the Dog Liability for Attacks Act cover aspects of the treatment of animals, none of these pieces of legislation stipulate requirements for the ownership and breeding of dogs.
And according to Hall, who has been practising veterinary medicine for three years, more people are engaging in breeding dogs because of the perceived lucrativeness of the business.
“I’ve seen an uptick in dog breeders popping up – people who say they are full-time breeders – and they actually have no kind of certification,” he said.
These people, he added, are sometimes administering medication and vaccines and even performing often-botched surgeries on the dogs.
Further, Hall stated that they often give unqualified advice to dog owners, which the veterinarians have to debunk when these animals are brought in for treatment.
He believes that regulation, supported by a public education campaign surrounding the treatment of dogs, is needed locally.
“We definitely need stronger welfare animals laws. We need to punish people when they do things that go against animals’ welfare or they do things that cause harm. When you get the stricter laws and penalties, people will be like, ‘There’s a deterrent now. I don’t necessarily want to do this’,” he said.
Colleague veterinarian Dr Briana Schwapp agrees.
Schwapp, who has also been practising for three years, told The Gleaner that she has seen first-hand the horrors committed to the dogs by breeders who are not concerned about their welfare.
“Sometimes they are not doing the correct procedures for vaccination, the correct procedures for the pregnant moms, they’re not X-raying them to check how many puppies are gonna be born, they have persons doing C-section who are cutting out dogs’ abdomen when they’re awake or they are doing it with inadequate drugs with inadequate sterilisation, which we’ve been seeing recently,” she said.
“The animals are suffering; there’s no question. At the end of it all, it’s the animals that suffer. We have puppies dying from terrible viruses because they’re not adequately vaccinated,” she added.
However, Schwapp conceded that some amateur breeders do take care of the dogs under their charge.
A member of the Jamaica Veterinary Association, Schwapp said two committees have been formed by the organisation to put forward suggestions for the amendment of the Cruelty to Animals Act to address the issue. This, she says, will centre around the standardisation of dog breeding.
“So if you’re caught, for example, doing a surgery on a dog and you’re not a surgeon, then you’d be held [liable for prosecution] under the act,” she said.
However, Pamela Lawson, managing director of the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, acknowledged the dread of puppy mills.
She pointed out that it is in the best interest of dog breeders to ensure their animals are well kept and taken care of.
But she pointed to another worrying problem: the falsifying of documents by these breeders that purport that these animals have been vaccinated.
“A lot of people end up buying animals and then a week later, the animal gets sick on them and dies and their money is all gone. There is very little recourse if something goes awry,” Lawson told The Gleaner.
And while she asserts that legislation is needed, she is concerned that it will not be properly enforced.
“It’s always good to want the legislation, but who is going to enforce it? I’ve become a bit disillusioned with us and putting laws into place, especially after the Dogs Liabilities Act. I think I’m all constitutionally [worn] out,” she said.