Would you pay £20,000 for a dog that could barely walk, couldn’t breathe properly, could never give birth naturally and was high likely to suffer from a variety of diseases including severe skin problems?
Plenty did. Enough to net Karl and Victoria Shellard £372,531 and provide them with assets of more than £1m.
The Shellards bred 67 litters over six years, with bitched being inseminated at every season and one bitch being forced to produce 6 litters in just 4 years.
They were fined £19,000 and ordered to pay back illegal earnings of £372,531 and costs of £43,775. That will still leave them pretty well off – and their main crime being considered to be not having a breeding licence.
Judge David Wynn Morgan assuredly missed the point when he told them “You could have run an extremely profitable business if you were properly registered…”
Just look at their dogs in the image here: animals so severely contorted that their shortened lives will be misery even without being forced to breed. Under The Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014 , Condition 3: Health, “The licence holder must take all reasonable steps to protect dogs from pain, suffering, injury and disease.” Well that would rule out the dogs that the Shellards were producing for a start.
Tragically for dogs, the Shellards are the tip of the iceberg and until people stop paying obscene amounts for distorted travesties of dogs, the majority will go unpunished and dogs will yet again suffer.
It goes without saying that 2021 was an odd year for all of us. Maybe not as awful as 2020 but still one that most of us would not regret passing. But what did we accomplish for dogs and what can we expect for them in 2022?
Gadgets remain fashionable – not just restrictive halters, harnesses, leads and collars that are use in stead of training but now DogTV. I suppose that it was only a matter of time before colour-adjusted programmes would be broadcast, but, as my ex-boss and vet Stewart Halperin said when asked about it, it may be better than leaving a dog with nothing but it is not a substitute for company, exercise and direct stimulation.
The same must be said of monitoring cameras and trackers used as a substitute for training decent recall.
As more professionally certified, non-aversive trainers become qualified, it is to be hoped that more owners will be exposed to better and kinder training techniques.
FOI requests made by the UKKC in July 2021 found that 98% of dog thieves criminals are never charged and in more than half of cases, a suspect is never identified. There were
196 cases of dog theft every month, a 7% increase from the previous year. Police forces found that criminals switched from county lines drugs trade which had been made difficult during lockdowns to a come in which they were guaranteed easy returns and little chance of consequences.
More than 500 dogs were estimated as stolen across the UK since the government’s Taskforce set up to tackle the issue in May 2021. Owners are still leaving dogs tied up unattended, walking them off-lead along roads (mostly illegal anyway) and not training reliable recall. Many new owners just want a “click and collect” dog and don’t ask questions as to where their “rescue” came from.
The government has planned a lot of legislation including a new dog abduction offence announced in September 2021 as part of their Pet Theft Taskforce. The offence will be part of the proposed Kept Animals Bill which is currently in the report stage in the Commons.
This Bill proposes an extension of the penalties and definitions of livestock worrying with 2021 seeing a year on year increase in the number of animals injured and killed. There will also be enhanced powers of entry and seizure of suspected dogs, with JPs being able to order entry and search. Control orders can be applied to owner and offender if the latter is different and in the absence of either at the time of the attack. Penalties can include a destruction order and disqualification form keeping or owning dogs. Worrying is defined as chasing, causing injury or suffering, or causing abortion or loss of or diminution in produce and
being at large in a field or enclosure in which there are relevant livestock. The lists of species defined as livestock has also bene extended.
The number of dogs, cats or ferrets that can be brought into the UK legally in a vehicle would be reduced to 5 mainly in an attempt to stem the illegal import of dogs. (98% of “rescue” dogs are imported illegally). Regulations will also be implemented to restrict the age at which a dog or cat can be imported and the importation of pregnant dogs and ban the import of docked or crop-eared dogs.
The Petfished Campaign continues to educate people as to how to source dogs and cats ethically.
There are proposals to license animal sanctuaries and rescue and rehoming centres which could see the end of the illegal importation of dogs and lack of behavioural assessment and support. Let us hope.
In 2022, we could at last see a ban on e-collars, although no mention has been made of electric fences used to confine dogs.
The government also state that they will “Ensure that dangerous dogs legislation continues to provide effective public safety controls”. Not sure why they say “continue” as it is clearly ineffective.
Let us hope that all or most of this legislation passes and here’s to a happier 2022!
South Korea’s president has announced that a ban on dog meat is a possibility in the wake of waning popularity. The may millions of dogs slaughtered annually had dwindled to approximately 1 million and three major dog meat markets have closed. Nevertheless, there is likely to be opposition to the ban with the financial consequences largely hitting the country’s poorest people who rely on the trade.
Support for a ban may be a popular issue in forthcoming elections, with consumers being in a minority, but there is also a vociferous section the public that, although not consuming dog meat, opposes a ban on libertarian grounds. It remains t be seen whether it will be an easy vote winner or a source of polarisation and division.
Meanwhile, 53 dogs were rescued by police from an illegal trader who has been a significant player for two decades. It is claimed that he was slaughtering up to 30 dogs per day.
As with South Korea, the consumption of dog meat is a minority choice but the effect of animal welfare out of all proportion. Many of the dogs are stolen from owners and the trade has been blamed for spreading zoonoses, including rabies.
Yesterday, two dogs were uppermost in my mind for very different reasons. A boy was killed by a dog in Caerphilly in a rare, but headline-grabbing incident. Details are still emerging, but the dog was shot at the scene.
The other situation could not have been more different but still resulted in the death of the dog. This dog had been entrusted to a dog walker who allowed the dog off lead on a cliff edge.
What links the incidents, quite apart from the devastation of the losses to the people concerned, is that they were both entirely preventable. In the first case, there are simply too few resources available to promote responsible dog ownership, starting with the breeding and purchase of dogs. In the second, too many unqualified, inexperienced people are entrusted with care of dogs. We will never eliminate accidents but it beggars belief that anyone would allow a dog off lead in such a potentially dangerous environment. It is never worth the risk. Whether it’s attacks on livestock or dogs off lead alongside roads, owners and carers of dogs need to stop being so arrogant as to think that their dog will not cause an incident and maybe lose its own life in the process. We also need to professionalise dog care with accredited training and licensing a requirement for all. Of course all the licensing and training in the world will only work if owners check documentation and not hand their dog over without proper interviews and full, written instructions to carers.
The wearing of red poppies to commemorate war dead began in France in 1921 but is not without controversy. Phrases such as the “glorious dead” conflicted with those who wished to recognise that ordinary men and women should be commemorated, but that there is nothing glorious about war.
Recently, the contribution that animals made and continue to make alongside humans in conflicts has been acknowledged by a purple poppy and, of course, by the dramatic Animals In War Memorial in Hyde Park, London.
So this year, why not go purple and support Murphy’s Army and their beneficiaries across canine services.
I’m adding a white poppy too.
The Cumbre Vieja volcan0 on La Palma, Spain has been erupting since September. Dogs have been abandoned and are now trapped by molten lava.
Although permits are required to transport dogs by air in Spain, attempts are being made to air lift the weak and hungry dogs using drones.
The drones weigh 50kg and are equipped with wide nets. The drone operators have just 4 minutes to lure the dogs into the nets and another 4 to fly them to safety before the battery capacity is exhausted.
The world is waiting with baited breath to see if this first ever attempt to use this technique will succeed.
Can you knit another dog from the hair that your dog sheds? Do you get through vacuum cleaners at twice the rate of your dog-less friends (if you have any)? Do you have take special measures to keep at least one suit of clothes free from dog hair?
I know how you feel, but nil desperandum – dog hair is not only useful for insulating and waterproofing dogs.
It appears that dog and human hair can be used for cleaning up oil spills. Speaking as a long-haired person who sheds almost as much as my dog, I find that quite cheering. The non-profit organisation, Matter of Trust, collects donations of human and canine hair to make mats and booms with recycled nylon tights (and I can ruin a pair of those just by looking at them, so it’s a win win for me). They particularly want ponytails that are 4 inches or longer (I draw the line there – my 18 inches are staying put). They even take donations of laundry lint.
So don’t tear your hair out about your dog (or you) shedding – put it to good use!
If you got a dog over lockdown or got a dog without waiting then the chances are that you got a dog from an illegal back street breeder or a puppy farm. 200 dogs were seized from a puppy farmer in Wales on September 17th. Some were fly-struck, 15 were seriously ill. In total there were 5 bitches nursing 18 puppies, 5 gravid bitches and 20 more adult dogs. Bichon Frises, Shih Tzus, Cockerpoos, Cavaliers, Labradors and Cocker Spaniels were all seized.
If you were expecting to get a dog in the next few weeks then maybe one of these was destined for your home.
Some of the dogs will be bale to find new homes but every time that ne of these dogs is sold or “rescued”, a space is created for another one.
There is an easy way to stop this trade.
Don’t expect to get a dog as if it were a click and collect item and think twice before going to a small “rescue”. That fashionable Cockerpoo that you got on demand was fuelling the abhorrent trade in dogs and you are as much a part of the problem as the criminals profiting from it.
Want advice on buying a dog or cat? Go to a qualified professional.
Do dogs lie? Although people often attribute dogs with far more cognitive ability than they are capable of (and far less for that matter), a new study suggests that dogs practice deception.
260 dogs were trained to find hidden food in one of two covered bowls. The dogs then learned to follow the suggestion of a person they had never met who indicated which bowl contained the food. The dogs appeared to trust the new person and, once this was established, the dogs watched as another person moved the food from the first to the second bowl. The communicators were either in the room and also witnessed the switch or were briefly absent. In both instances, the communicators then recommend the first bowl which was now empty.
Half of the dogs followed the communicator’s misleading advice if the communicator hadn’t witnessed the food switch. However roughly two-thirds of the dogs ignored the communicator who had witnessed the food switch but still recommended the empty bowl.
This is more complicated, cognitively, than it appears as it suggests that dogs have at least partial theory of mind – the ability to understand and take into account another individual’s mental state.
This is video of my late dog being distracted – did Lily know what she was doing?
Dogs can have a lot of safe fun, but never let a dog go into water that you don’t know. Hidden hazards include débris, currents, tangling weed and pollutants. be especially careful of water that is an unusual colour; toxic algae can turn water turquoise, green, blue, red and brown and can be fatal to dogs and humans. Seawater can make a dog’s skin dry and flaky and the coat dull, particularly if they are susceptible to skin irritations. Always rinse off seawater with freshwater and make sure that your dog does not drink it. Seawater can be polluted and contain harmful flotsam especially after heavy rains when sewage may have been discharged directly from outflows.
Rivers can be dangerous at low tide as mud can engulf dogs and humans very quickly.
Use a harness and a long line so that you can control your dog at all times and if you do get into trouble, contact the coastguard on 999.