Profits from illegal dog breeding in Ireland are “akin to the drug trade”, it has been claimed.
Designer dogs can sell for over £ 36,000 each, as street breeders take advantage of the fashionable breeds made popular by celebrities and TV shows.
Animal activists say they have seen a huge increase in the number of dogs advertised online each year with unscrupulous breeders using the anonymity of the Internet to place false or misleading ads.
Suzie Carley, executive director of Dogs Trust Ireland, said there was great concern that fashion took priority over the welfare of puppies.
“When breeders see that there is a trend or a trending dog, sometimes they start to breed that particular dog without thinking about their welfare,” she said.
“They see an opportunity and will breed for a particular look, but the health implications for this designer dog are incredible.
“The kind of money involved in this is akin to the drug trade, it’s serious business.
“The puppies are sold before they have to leave their mothers, and are sold in what can be described as really bad breeding conditions.”
There are over 250 dog breeding establishments across Ireland, but Ms Carley wants the government to crack down on unscrupulous puppy farms and breeders.
Tens of thousands of people have backed a petition calling on the government to review its law on dog breeding establishments.
Ms Carley, who has worked with the trust for almost six years, wants the legislation changed so that anyone raising at least three litters of puppies per year will have to apply for a license.
The Dogs Trust and a number of other animal welfare agencies have formed the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group (IPAAG) to ensure that there is a minimum set of standards that breeders must adhere to.
“If you want to advertise a puppy, you have to state its age, include a photo and other information to potential pet owners,” she added.
“We always tell people to consider going to their local rescue center or impounding and saving a dog before they go shopping because there are thousands of dogs that need loving homes. and that second chance in life. “
Research by the charity found that more than 74% of people did not take the right steps before getting a dog.
“People go online and make an impulse buy,” she added.
“Some breeders will say I’m going to skip the trip and meet you in that parking lot and when they get there it doesn’t feel right and people will say they had an instinct.
“They’ll see the poor puppy and think they want to take him away from that bad person and take the dog, but won’t realize they’re helping fuel the business.”
There is currently a team of 75 employees at the Dogs Trust in Dublin looking after some 200 dogs at all times. – PA