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Are my neighbours running a puppy farm?

(14 Posts)
Lexilicious Wed 14-Sep-11 15:02:09

I have lived here for 18 months and am troubled by what I see in the back yard. It is a paved / rough ground yard, not a garden. There used to be one 4x3 foot kennel which two adult Akitas shared. There are now three large kennels with proper doors. (I have put a picture but with restricted viewers on my profile) - please shout if you want to see to advise.

I have spoken to the council to ask if they would explain to my neighbour not to put his dogs' faeces out the back fence on the common land. I am writing today because the dogs are whining (they sound like seals) and it is annoying me.

In the time we've been here the bitch has had two litters and they have been sold to people who have come to the house. It could be that my neighbours have done home checks etc but given that I've never seen them actually walk the dogs, I think it on the unlikely side.

They've also in the last year had two JRTs temporarily, which were very cute but were 'given back because they just yapped all the time' (when I asked after them). Given back to the travellers they were bought from.

Two or three of the latest litter are still here. They are adorable to look at but I just don't think it's right that they pad around that yard all day every day.

I'm not a dog owner (never have been, would like to be but we both work FT) but am I right to be bothered by all this and what do I do without starting a huge feud.

Northernlurker Wed 14-Sep-11 15:10:18

Not a dog expert but anybody who is keeping large dogs and not walking them at all - and they can't be if they're dumping the poo like that - should not been in charge of an animal imo. 2 litters in 18 months is surely too many as well?
I hope somebody can advise you on what to do. I suppose I would ring the RSPCA or one of the other dog charities - I know the RSPCA don't get a good press.

Tchootnika Wed 14-Sep-11 16:08:26

You're definitely right to be bothered.
As Northern has said, you should report this to RSPCA - possibly to police?
(I hope DBF or someone else knowledgeable will be along soon...)

Do you know if the council hae done anything so far?

Lexilicious Wed 14-Sep-11 22:44:07

The council dealt with the poo issue well - sent a letter about an 'anonymous concern' and it definitely solved the problem.

While on the phone though (and this was just the general helpline) and I was describing that there were a number of dogs and a lot of poo I recall they said 'ooh, hang on, backing on to [x] land - does he breed dogs too?' and I said he seemed to, and they nearly confirmed that the breeding had been mentioned to them as well.

Council has Environmental Health and Animal Control - the former dealt with the poo being put onto the public land and helped him deal with it more appropriately on his own land (because of causing neighbours to smell it). From the reaction on the phone though, I don't think he's yet crossed the line in what he's doing re the breeding.

DogsBestFriend Wed 14-Sep-11 22:48:27

I'm no expert on this, ScuttleButter is your lady. smile

The owners are definitely not nice types, that's for sure.

Problem is that the main ways of dealing with them are roundabout. To be registered as breeders in law they only have to be breeding more than your OP suggests, over 4 litters in any one 12 month period. That said, if their FAMILY also breed, even from a different address, they need to be licensed with the local council.

However, Walsall Council, picked at random as an example, describes the law as thus:

"One extension, to all of this is that the law primarily relates to the carrying on of a business, and it is therefore open to the Local Authority if it felt the individual facts of the case warranted it to require a person where bitches produced less than 5 litters per year to have a licence if it felt the person was quite clearly rearing dogs for commercial gain on a business footing. For the vast majority of cases, however, it is felt that the “litter test” of 5 litters per year will be the relevant issue."

As you see, the problem appears to be that there has been no test case for a breeder of less than 5 litters and so councils and Trading Standards tend to go by the 5 or more rule. sad

To me as an owner the set up on your profile is morally wrong, dogs belong indoors, but may not be an issue to welfare organisations as long as the dogs are cared for, exercised, have access to food and to water AT ALL TIMES (worth remembering) and soforth. There may be a welfare issue with accommodation for such large dogs although IME the lack of walks is something that the RSPCA seem to be "meh" about as unless there are other clear pointers (very long claws indicating no walks, for example) I guess it's almost impossible to prove.

The other ways to address this are environmental health concerns - is there a lot of poo around, is there excessive noise and so on? If so, report to your council's EH department. Also have a word with your Dog Warden, if your council still has someone specifically employed for that task, get them to investigate, you never know, they have already got any concerns. Yours might be just the call that gives them the reason to act. I'll see of anyone I know knows your local DW, I'm not aware of anyone who does but will try, it may give you an introduction and an idea of what they're like to deal with if so. I'll also ask a Dog Warden contact of mine who in his spare time is a seriously avid rescuer, he will know how to approach this, what to say and ask yours.

The tax office is another way to deal with these people.... they have an undeclared income, two litters in 18 months, average 5 pups a litter at, what, £500 a pup? It all adds up and the tax office will be interested and of course anything you say is confidential, as it will be to the Dog Warden and RSPCA. As I said, ScuttleButter is a true expert on this, she does loads of work investigating puppy farms, I hope you don't mind but in a mo I will put a thread up asking for her help.

Added to this, call your council's licensing department and ask them if the owners are registered. I'm almost certain that they won't be but it will give the department a heads up and might result in some shared information.

I'm SURE I've missed something but can't think what. Time to find ScuttleButter! smile

DogsBestFriend Wed 14-Sep-11 23:04:49

Not only did I X post, I didn't read your OP properly! blush

Good excuse - bloody DD is still up and full of beans, nattering on about spending next weekend at the rescue we help out at, how she can carry school bag around and clothes for the weekend and all sorts! Sorry.

So, I can see that poo and noise are an issue... poo dealt with but noise? In a residential area I'd guess that this is an ongoing concern with adult dogs and growing pups in a back yard. Worth pushing it and complaining again.

The other thing is, might you have their phone number or email (vague hope)? If so, or you can get either, it would help as with that we will be able to see if they're breeding more than you currently know or offering other dogs from a different address. PM me if so and I'll have a looky-see and explain all. wink

DogsBestFriend Wed 14-Sep-11 23:06:35

PPS likewise if you can point me to any online advertising of the pups that you know of... or even if they've advertised, say, a sofa or lawnmower online that you know about, that should yield a phone number.

Bloody DD still driving me nuts!

Scuttlebutter Wed 14-Sep-11 23:49:00

Grr. Just dd a long post and it got lost somewhere in cyberspace. DBF has covered the main points. They are probably (just) within the law in not needing a licence, but I'd ask the Licensing department to visit/investigate. Sometimes, just getting a visit from officialdom can provide a nasty shock for these sort of people and makes them realise that they are not in a bubble.

I'd also suggest the Council's trade waste service be invited to provide a (chargeable) service smile and raise it with Planning Enforcement as they have changed the use of the premises from residential to business, presumably without consent.

I would raise the issue with your Councillor as this will ensure it gets taken more seriously. Keep pushing on the noise/smell etc - this is a classic EH problem which can easily invoke a Noise Nuisance requiring action by the neighbour. Take a look at the DogLaw website for an expert view on this.

I'd also endorse reporting them to HMRC - again, untaxed business.

If you/they are in social housing, raise this with local housing officer. Increasingly, many social landlords are insisting on dogs being chipped and tighter controls on dog ownership (which is good) - failure to comply can be regarded as ASB or even a breach of tenancy. If you think they are privately renting, this may also be in breach of their tenancy agreement (often clauses prohibiting keeping of animals, and running a business from residential premises). If there is any way you can find out their insurance provider, they may also be invalidating this, again as carrying on a business.

Please do keep us posted, and if there is anything more we can do to help, let us know.

Ironically, I am going to yet another meeting down at Cardiff Bay tomorrow about this - Wales is slowly inching toward bringing this type of breeder under the control of licensing.

Lexilicious Thu 15-Sep-11 22:28:24

Thank you so much for your knowledgeable advice.

Scuttlebutter, I've added you to the list who can see my picture. I have two mobile numbers which I'll PM you both. I think they are HA tenants, but we're not. It's probably about half and half at this end of the estate.

He runs a shop in the local shopping precinct and I would imagine his accounts are, er, intermingled. She is a SAHM to three. We've had a letter to 'neighbours of' asking if we know of [name]'s whereabouts - her brother I think. I googled the letterhead and it was a debt collection agency.

The barking is periodic. Most of the time they're fine. The poo is resolved. I hear him talking to the dogs when he comes back from work and he obviously adores them. I really think it is just ignorance, so I'm loath to get them dropped in the shit. I think they see their dogs as lovely friends who they care about, but certainly commodities at the end of the day. I think you could ask a leading question that would let them arrive at an answer of 'improving the breed line' of sorts but they wouldn't be able to tell you why. If you see what I mean.

Tchootnika Thu 15-Sep-11 22:43:00

I think they see their dogs as lovely friends who they care about, but certainly commodities at the end of the day.

I'm not sure that the two are compatible, Lex.

Dogs might be workers, but they are never 'commodities'.

Just sayin'...

Lexilicious Thu 15-Sep-11 22:56:40

I know - I think that, you think that, but my neighbours are no philosophers. They might not even see a pejorative in the term puppy farmers. 'Farm' to me says bucolic countryside scene, horny handed son of toil wearing dungarees.

Argh this is difficult. The dogs/pups aren't being abused or mistreated, just not stimulated or given much of a life. I know you can say "but lack of stimulation is neglect" but for a family who never go anywhere or do anything themselves, maybe bringing the dogs inside to watch telly together is their idea of being as good as going for a walk and throwing a rubber bone thing 50 times. IYSWIM.

Tchootnika Thu 15-Sep-11 23:12:42

How about this though:
Do you get the impression that your neighbours care about what homes the puppies are going to?
If they're breeding them in order to shift them as quickly as possible - or they don't know or care much who the puppies go to, then that, for sure is 'neglect' (and that's putting it very naicely indeed).

Lexilicious Fri 16-Sep-11 20:36:10

Yes I think they care. No I don't think they actually check.

If someone was to come and say" I want an Akita because they look well ard and I need a proper scary looking dog, which one of these pups barks the loudest mate?" I think my neighbours would not want to sell to them. I hear them telling single-looking, tough-looking blokes that the breed is lovely with kids, a big fluffy softie. I think they see what they want to see in the prospective buyer and assume that everyone is naturally good with dogs, and at best benignly lax with them.

I don't know anything about dog breeding or maternal care so I don't know if a litter each summer is excessive. In terms of shifting the pups quickly, they see happy for the pups to stay with them for a good while until they gradually find owners. I don't see any training going on in the back yard though - no sitting for treats or anything. I don't believe they're walked so I expect they don't have good recall (that's a term I picked up from Dogs Trust descriptions of rescue dogs, I'm drawn to lurchers/greyhounds myself although my grandparents had spaniels)

HereBefore Sat 17-Sep-11 10:08:38

I totally understand you have justifiable concerns about the dogs next door but one litter a year is not a puppy farm. Could it be that the dogs are being walked while you are at work? I would not be happy with the outdoor kennelling and mess either.

As a side point I think it's terrible that it's being automatically assumed that this person is not declaring their financial goings on relating to breeding to HMRC, I find it a very confusing conclusion to come to as there's nothing in the OP to suggest this is the case yet it hasbeen stated almost as fact from two contributers to the thread. confused

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