THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

‘Puppy mills’ brought to heel

CZECH REPUBLIC: Crammed mercilessly into vans and car boots, tens of thousands of illegally bred dogs, many ill or still puppies, are smuggled each year out of the Czech Republic for sale on western Europe’s lucrative black market.

animalscultureimmigrationhealthdeathtransport
By AFP

Sunday 17 September 2017, 04:00PM


An ill female French bulldog who has entered the animal shelter of Alena Smidkova after being taken from illegal dog breeders in Prague. Photo: Alena Smidkova / Handout / AFP

An ill female French bulldog who has entered the animal shelter of Alena Smidkova after being taken from illegal dog breeders in Prague. Photo: Alena Smidkova / Handout / AFP

“Try to live at least one day the way these puppies do, in an unhealthy, isolated place with little food and water, in your own excrement,” says Prague vet Martina Naceradska.

She is one of a growing number of Czech activists targeting so-called puppy mills, or illegal large-scale commercial dog breeding sites, which, they say, ship an estimated 50,000 dogs without identification chips or passports annually to EU nations further west.

Animal rights activists say 100 to 150 puppy mills are thought to be operating in the Czech Republic, many of them on the German and Austrian borders which is a key factor in the illicit trade.

“Dogs are bred illegally in the Czech Republic and other eastern European countries, often in alarming conditions, and then transported to western Europe, where they are handed over to middlemen,” Naceradska said.

Profit margins are hefty. Legally-bred dogs in western EU countries are at least 75% more expensive than those illegally bred in their eastern counterparts, according to campaigners.

In the Czech Republic, a boom in illegal breeding in the last few years has driven annual turnover up to around an estimated 1.5 billion koruna (B2.25 billion).

Websites offering popular breeds from Czech puppy mills such as French bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, Jack Russells or the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, are easy to find online.

Geographical reasons have helped drive the smuggling and aided its success, say animal rights groups.

The Czech Republic has the advantage over Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – where illegal breeding and smuggling to the west also goes on – for example, of sharing large borders with both Austria and wealthy parts of Germany where campaigners highlight a demand.

Buyers often pick up the puppy mill pets from handlers in shady places such as car parks or motorway service areas.

“Demand creates supply,” Naceradska says of the practice, which is relatively recent in the Czech Republic and has even spawned a new Czech word, “mnozirna”, or “breeding factory”.

The booming illegal business has prompted top-selling broadsheet Dnes to dub the EU country of 10.5 million people a puppy mill “superpower”.

The 1992 Animal Welfare Act lays out rules for breeding both farm animals and pets in the Czech Republic, but animal rights activists argue that poor enforcement and weak penalties have created fertile ground for puppy mills.

Being caught transporting an animal or neglecting the rules can entail a fine of up to 768 euros (B30,407), says Zbynek Semerad, head of the Czech State Veterinary Administration.

BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET

But the fine does little to deter illegal breeders, who can earn up to 1,000 euros (B39,593) per puppy for an animal costing around 50 euros (B1,979) to breed.

Illegal breeders can also ensure a steady supply of pups by plying female dogs with hormones and then having them impregnated up to three times a year, according to activists.

“Four out of five puppies die during the transport, for instance to Spain, yet the business still pays off,” says Naceradska, highlighting the high profit margin even after paying the middleman.

Public outcry at home and fierce criticism by animal rights organisations, notably neighbouring Austria’s Vier Pfoten (Four Paws), have forced Czech politicians to act.

In June, parliament amended the veterinary law on rabies vaccination, introducing measures that require all dogs to have electronic ID chips injected under their fur as of 2020.

The amendment also brings in the mandatory registration of any breeding establishment with more than five adult females.

“It’s designed to boost control over dog breeding,” says lawmaker Herbert Pavera, adding that it would soon be necessary to set up a central dog registry too.

“I am convinced it’s possible to eliminate these ‘mnozirnas’, but further legislation will be required,” he added.

But dismissing the legal changes as “better than nothing”, Naceradska argues that more serious legislation, specifically targeting illegal breeders, is needed to stamp them out.

“We must clearly define by law the conditions under which it is forbidden to breed animals, in order to facilitate the prosecution of those breeders,” she said.

Unwilling to wait for lawmakers to take more decisive action, activists like Alena Smidkova are joining forces online via social media to bring illegal puppy mill owners to heel.

The feisty 50-year-old and several friends have become adept at picking out online classified ads that lead them straight to illegal breeders.

“I go with a couple of guys and threaten to call the cops if the boss doesn’t give me his dogs. In most cases, they don’t put up much of a fight,” Smidkova said, as some 20 rescued puppies, including French bulldogs, golden retrievers and Chihuahuas, happily chase each other around her sprawling backyard in the eastern Czech town of Omice.

With the help of friendly vets she cares for pups until they are ready to go to “carefully chosen families” for a symbolic fee of 19 euros (B752), helping to cover some of her costs.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Boy, 14, killed as Phuket suffers worst Songkran road safety record in years

Don't expect a serious reaction as respons from Governor and other top brass who are responsible...(Read More)


Phuket Songkran road accident toll climbs to two dead

Reading the final Phuket road accident reports ( and that are just the official ones) it justified t...(Read More)


Outsider PM touted as impasse breaker

Elections done, the army couldn't delay it any longer. But now they control the deadlock, the &#...(Read More)


Filipino killed by drunk driver

...what are your 'both counts' ? And: What license matter? And what is strange this foreigne...(Read More)


American, Thai partner in hiding, fearful of charges for seastead south of Phuket

Capt B is right about the thai exclusive economic zone. But what a missed chance for thai government...(Read More)


Local residents dive in to clean filthy Patong canal

If the other 99% of locals disposed of their rubbish properly then K. Theerapong wouldn't have t...(Read More)


American, Thai partner in hiding, fearful of charges for seastead south of Phuket

Mr Chad & Mrs Nadia did not design, construct, positioned, paid for anything of that kind. The b...(Read More)


AirAsia’s failed ad campaign is a reminder of the perils of word play

What a fun story, linguistic confusion meets cultural clash. This current example being triggered by...(Read More)


American, Thai partner in hiding, fearful of charges for seastead south of Phuket

haha...a threat to national security? More like using a sledge hammer to crack open a peanut by a ty...(Read More)


American, Thai partner in hiding, fearful of charges for seastead south of Phuket

If it was China building another army base and loading it with weapons, they would tell Thailand to ...(Read More)