"I've got a message for Salford Council about the licence - scrap it! There's no way to make it better. These dogs are...not being treated as living beings. It's all about profit and money..." Nicola Robinson, former Dogs4Us store manager
Protesters chanting `Blood on your hands' and `Shame on you' laid siege to the Salford Dogs4Us store on Agecroft Road yesterday, following a BBC Panorama expose of the company highlighting a whole series of transgressions relating to the sale of puppies, including dogs bought from untraceable breeders, pups being transported under-age and pups being sold that are ill (see previous Salford Star article click here).
Speaking at the demo, two Salford councillors, Paul Wilson and Howard Balkind, called on the Council to investigate and, if necessary, remove the trading licence from Dogs4Us...
"Salford Council has to do random checks on traceability of puppies and that, for me, is the big issue" Councillor Wilson explained "I will be talking to Environmental Services and Environment Lead Councillor David Lancaster on Monday to ask them what steps they are putting in place to actually show there is a robust method of checking the traceability of puppies sold from this place.
"The Council, in my opinion, has a duty of care to the puppies and the consumers to ensure that traceability is there and, if not, the licence should be removed" he added "I'll be putting pressure on the Council to actually show transparency is there and, until that is in place, it is important that we raise awareness in a peaceful way, like today."
Salford City Council has done inspections of the store over the years but has given it a clean bill of health. However, former Leeds Dogs4Us store manager, Nicola Robinson, who was featured in the Panorama programme and spent three years collecting evidence against the company, said yesterday that the inspections mean nothing...
"I've been on that side and know what it's like when the authorities come in and check you it's all hidden and they don't demand to see things" she explained "My evidence backs up everything I'm saying about this place. These pups are coming into England too young. According to legislation the dogs are supposed to be given time to acclimatise after travelling but I've got proof that dogs would arrive from Ireland or Wales and be sold the same day vaccinated, micro-chipped, de-flea'd and wormed, and sold. So there isn't any acclimatisation period, never mind anything else.
"There's too many dogs I've cradled while they're dying" she added "That is the reality of it. These pups are coming in sick and sometimes they don't even make it. They're transferred in mixed litters, which is also against legislation. They arrive covered in their own vomit and excrement, and I know that it all does psychologically affect them.
"I've got a message for Salford Council about the licence - scrap it!" she said "There's no way to make it better. These dogs are being treated like a commodity; they're not being treated as living beings. It's all about profit and money, and puppies that come here come from puppy farms in Ireland and Wales."
While Dogs4Us would deny the lurid details and are attempting to sue Nicola, she insists she has the proof, as Panorama subsequently exposed*... "I've got all the evidence" she said "It doesn't matter whether these dogs are coming from licensed or unlicensed premises, the problems are still the same."
Mary, who also joined the protest, bought a puppy from Dogs4Us that had major health and behavioural problems... "He was constantly biting my children and my other dogs and, even after I took him to a behaviourist nothing changed" she said "He was also in extremely poor health and eventually he had kidney and liver failure and we spent about £2,500 at the vets. I got in touch with Dogs4Us who didn't want to know, and then I did my research and found that he was apparently from a puppy farm in Northern Ireland and the breeder could not be traced."
As around one hundred people protested at the store yesterday, customers turned away having been made aware of the conditions surrounding the sale of puppies, and Aran Mathai, of the BoycottDogs4Us campaign which called the demonstration, was well pleased with the response...
"It's been a really good turnout and lots of people have been honking their horns and supporting us" he said "Even though it's raining people have come out because they want to spread the message. We're here today to protest the sale of poorly bred puppies, puppies from puppy farms that are kept in sheds and essentially being treated like objects instead of animals.
"Dogs4Us has been exposed on SKY News, Channel 5 and, most recently, Panorama, which showed a puppy farm that keeps their dogs in tiny boxes and breeds them over and over again which is actually illegal" he added "They also brought puppies in under eight weeks old and it's illegal to transport a puppy under eight weeks old without its mother in this country. Dogs4Us is breaching legislation."
Salford Councillor, Howard Balkind, also called for the Council to act, in line with Councillor Bill Hinds and Salford and Eccles MP, Rebecca Long Bailey, who weren't at the demo but supported its aims...
"As a dog lover I think it's very important that we know where these dogs come from and what worries me terribly about Dogs4Us is the rumours we've heard about them coming from puppy farms, while a lot are sick when they are sold" Councillor Balkind said "It's very much up to the Council to ensure that the dogs should be healthy and that they are properly inspected on a regular basis to ensure that it's not puppies for profit - it's puppies that can go to a home and live a happy life with the families who buy them."
* To see a section of the Panorama programme on YouTube click here
Also see the Salford Star report on a previous protest outside Dogs4Us click here
For more details on the campaign see https://boycottdogs4us.com/
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