The end result came on 26 July 2017 when a High Court Judge found in favour of North Kesteven. It seems he had neither the inclination or interest in attempting to set a precedent which would compel licensing authorities to impose improved welfare standards on dog breeding establishments – in this case Little Rascals Pets Ltd (aka Bridgett Dickens, Peter Dickens, Edward Swindells, Penny Swindells) – which would basically have the effect of putting these puppy farmers out of business overnight. [The Judgment]
The basis of Chancepixies‘ legal argument was that the standard of animal welfare currently binding dog breeding establishments like Little Rascals is totally inadequate. Actually it’s downright cruel. But it’s cheaper and much more convenient for Little Rascals and North Kesteven to keep dog welfare to an absolute minimum because it maximises their profits.
However, its thanks to Chancepixies that we’ve all discovered how commercial dog breeders/puppy farmers are under far less scrutiny and legally bound by much lower standards of welfare than domestic dog owners.
You can read Chancepixies’ statement here → Latest News
At the moment, licensing authorities use guidelines contained in the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973, which means that puppy farmers like Little Rascals need only adhere to the barest minimum of welfare for their dogs, and that’s exactly what Swindells and Dickens argued for in court (as the ‘Interested Party’) in collusion with their licence givers North Kesteven Borough Council (Defendant).
Chancepixies argued that animal welfare standards of licensed commercial dog breeders should be bound by code of practice set out in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which also states—
“veterinary advice should be sought before dogs are bred and that dogs and puppies should have space to get away from other dogs when they want to. ” (section 40)
But the judge apparently decided that this was “not necessary to the granting of a licence”. Good news for North Kesteven, Swindells and Dickens. Tragic news for the breeding dogs and unsold puppies who will continue to suffer.
Please continue to support Chancepixies. Let’s not forget that they are, first and foremost, a charity dog rescue, relying on donations to keep them going. Their only interest is animal welfare and the sacrifices they have made, and the courage it has taken, in bringing the court case against North Kesteven is second to none.
Local authorities dishing out licences to commercial dog breeders like Little Rascals are only legally obliged to inspect and approve a breeding establishment based on the totally inadequate Breeding of Dogs Act 1973, which deals mainly with the kennelling of breeding dogs but not with important aspects of their social care and well-being [Little Rascals Ex Breeding Dogs].
It’s all very convenient for North Kesteven because it means that, like other councils, they can send an ‘inspector’ along to a pre-arranged inspection once a year and, armed with a clipboard, using the ‘tick box’ system, the inspector will spend as little time as possible on the premises. If there are any ‘advisories’, the proprietors (Swindells and Dickens) will be informed, but no one from the council will return to check that those ‘advisories’ have been carried out.
On top of that, the ‘inspector’ will rarely be trained in any kind of animal welfare, and on his/her ’rounds’ will often have inspected a totally unrelated business, such as a restaurant under Health and Safety regulations, prior to visiting a breeding establishment.
Bearing in mind Swindells and Dickens do NOT declare certain parts of their property used for dog breeding, North Kesteven continue to issue a licence, year after year. HOWEVER, considering North Kesteven have been made fully aware – on several occasions – of Parvovirus in puppies sold by Little Rascals Pet Ltd, but when questioned always deny it (in spite of veterinary confirmation), it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something very suspect seems to be going on between the licencee and the licenser.
As it stands, licensed puppy farmers like Little Rascals are legally entitled to treat their dogs as disposable commercial property. In other words, in spite of having so many dogs and puppies on their premises (an astounding 368 at the last count, of which 142 were puppies) Little Rascals are legally allowed to treat them ALL as ‘merchandise’.
Current law actually protects commercial puppy breeders. It allows them to maximise profit at the expense of the mental and physical health of the breeding dogs and the puppies they produce. It‘s a sick joke.
Even more of a sick joke is the fate of unsold puppies. We’ve already seen tragic examples of Little Rascals‘ ex-breeding dogs. We know some dogs and unsold puppies are lucky enough to end up at a local dog rescue, but what happens to the rest?
Little Rascals are not required by law to inform any authority about the fate of unsaleable puppies or dogs which are no longer fit for their purpose.
An incinerator and shotgun licence are very useful to puppy farmers, and both exist on Little Rascals’ premises.
If any of us advertised a puppy in this way, a puppy so obviously terrified and bewildered being filmed at such great length, we would be met with a barrage of online criticism and abuse, fully justified.
Not one single Little Rascals’ supporter has criticised them for this video – not one. It isn’t just the law that needs changing, it’s certain people’s attitudes and moral standards. Until that time this shocking practice will continue, and the sub-humans lining their pockets from the misery of animals will continue to prosper.
Let’s also not forget that Little Rascals help their business acquaintances to profit from animal misery. One such close friend and supplier of puppies to Dickens and Swindells is John Boland, Ireland’s (if not Europe’s) biggest puppy farmer, who keeps his breeding dogs and puppies in conditions a normal human being wouldn’t wish on a sewer rat—
Statement of Chancepixies:
“High Court ruling confirms the need for urgent reform of dog breeding legislation –
On Wednesday 26th July 2017, judgment was handed down by Mr Justice Garnham, in a test case brought by us, which aimed to set a legal precedent that would have helped to see an end to the suffering of dogs held in licensed, large scale commercial breeding establishments or ‘puppy farms’.
In bringing the case we hoped to persuade the Judge that the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Code of Practice issued under it should apply when a commercial dog breeding establishment applies to its local council for a dog breeding licence. Presently, most councils only consider the requirements of the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 which prescribes matters such as size of kennels and levels of heating and lighting, but does not deal with more qualitative aspects of dog welfare, such as the need for dogs to have appropriate levels of human contact.
The Judge found that when inspecting commercial breeding establishments local authorities are not required to consider in detail the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs (issued under the Animal Welfare Act 2006). Giving judgment, the Judge said: “…the Code was not designed to be a list of pre-requisites for the grant of a licence under the 1973 Act. … Had that been Parliament’s intention the 2006 Act could have specified that was so”.
The judgment highlights an anomaly in the legal framework which effectively holds puppy farmers to lower standards of animal welfare than those to which every day owners of pet dogs are held.
North Kesteven District Council has over a number of years continued to renew the licence of a particularly large ‘puppy farm’ – allowing it to keep 200 breeding bitches. At the last inspection there were a staggering 368 dogs on site. Of these 142 were puppies and 226 were adult dogs. These dogs were, bred over generations by humans, to live with humans, as companions. We are supposedly a nation of dog lovers. If so, how have we allowed this to happen?
Although bitterly disappointed at the result, we remain upbeat and will renew our efforts on campaigning to obtain support from DEFRA and the Government to address this discrepancy.
Unfortunately, our charity is not a wealthy one; we came into this sector to make a difference not make money, and this action had the ability to make such a huge difference that we felt it was worth the risk, we still believe this to be the case and we can still make a national change, but only if we survive, this case may well cost the charity everything unless it gets the financial support to continue.”
Please support the ongoing work of Chancepixies