Article taken from Sunday Life -UK
Sunday, May 13, 2007
By Stephen Breen
Stephen Philpott has been on the front line in Ulster's war on animal cruelty since 1993.
During that 14-year period, the outspoken USPCA chief executive and his officers have been subjected to sinister threats and other forms of intimidation.
But Mr Philpott and his team have vowed to continue their battle against the sickos who continue to inflict pain and suffering on defenceless animals.
And, as the people of Northern Ireland prepare for the restoration of the Assembly, the USPCA has urged our MLA's to address the growing number of puppy farms in the province.
The plea was made during a week in which the animal charity was forced to hand back 45 dogs to a suspected illegal dog breeding operator in Co Fermanagh. The charity was also involved in a very public row with Belfast City Council, over the seizure of a pit-bull.
Although the illegal industry is a massive money-making operation on both sides of the border, the USPCA branded Northern Ireland as the puppy-farming "capital" of Europe.
And, with criminal gangs now entering the lucrative trade, Mr Philpott says now is the time for local politicians to combat the problem.
Said the USPCA man: "The plague of puppy farming is spreading throughout Northern Ireland at an alarming rate - especially in the border counties.
"Every part of Ireland has experienced an increase in the theft of pedigree dogs and the USPCA has evidence of the link between these thefts and local puppy farms.
"Conditions are appalling, animals penned up in blacked-out sheds or kept in scrap cars are two recent examples of the appalling conditions uncovered by USPCA/ISPCA Welfare Officers."
He added: "They survive in their own excrement and drink from filthy containers. The USPCA has found breeding stock being fed on the maggot infested carcasses of butchered bull calves or out-of-date meat products.
"Puppy farmers do not welcome visitors. One dealer in Fermanagh retails hundreds of pups each year through newspaper ads in Northern Ireland and exports thousands more through a well-established route into Scotland and England.
"I cannot believe I was forced to return dogs last week when the Public Prosecution Service suggested I didn't have enough experience in animal welfare. This is what we are up against and last week was one of the worst in my time in animal welfare.
"Thousands of these animals are being exported each year to feed the frenzy for trendy dogs gripping the British Isles and Europe. This has to stop now."
Mr Philpott also urged local animal lovers to keep away from puppy farms and to report their existence to the USPCA.
"If would-be buyers could see and smell the filth into which their new puppy was bred they would run a mile, probably retching all the way.
"Remember, by buying it you're not rescuing the unfortunate animal, you're actually perpetuating the problem," he added.
"People must never, ever buy a pup from anyone other than a licensed breeder.
"Remember, a farmed pup being offered in Gateshead could have a mother in Kerry.
"Don't listen to excuses, however plausible. If you don't see the mother - don't part the cash."