Clampdown on rabies can shut the door on Irish puppy farms

Many Irish pet lovers are going online to buy pups
Many Irish pet lovers are going online to buy pups

Ireland’s puppy farms are facing decline thanks to a new clampdown on rabies which means puppies can’t travel until they are 15 weeks old – and considered passed their sell-by date.

The country has earned the dubious title of the puppy farm capital of Europe, with the recent rescue of 340 dogs from a breeding farm in Carlow uncovering the dark side of dog breeding in Ireland.

An estimated 30,000 puppies go across the Irish Sea every year, but with Irish pups now almost five months old before they can travel they struggle to compete in the cuteness stakes in the U.K. pet market.

Already this year dogs destined for Britain have been stopped at Irish ports because they haven’t complied with microchip or rabies regulations.

“Five consignments of dogs have been detained at Dublin and Rosslare ports in recent months as part of ongoing checks in respect of exports to the U.K.,” said a Department of Agriculture spokesperson.

“These actions have sent out a very clear message on the need for all dogs exported from Ireland to have the necessary documentation and rabies vaccination.”

It is estimated that 90,000 prize pedigree puppies born in Ireland every year are making millions for their owners, with massive price tags on the most exclusive breeds.

ISPCA Chief Welfare Officer Conor Dowling said the clampdown on rabies vaccinations – which requires a 12-week-old pup to stay in the country for three weeks after immunisation – could have a dramatic effect on puppy exports.

“They have to be 15 weeks before they can travel which will severely impact on their marketability in Britain. Everyone wants an eight-week-old pup, not a 15-week-old pup.”

Puppy farms have been catapulted to national attention in recent weeks with Gardai and the ISPCA shutting down a puppy farm in the Carlow area. Inspectors described the scene they faced as “appalling and horrific”.

Conor Dowling said: “It dwarves anything that has come before. A total of four horses were euthanised on site and around 10 dogs had to be put to sleep.

“I think there is probably some bigger places even and one would hope that their conditions are better.”