Reports of farmed puppies being sold in the island has led to a campaign for the introduction of new animal welfare laws.
An online petition on www.change.org has attracted more than 2,000 signatures in its first week, calling for the government to empower the ManxSPCA and allow unannounced inspections.
The drive has been organised by animal lover Roseleen Harrison of Port Erin.
‘It came about because we realised that people were bringing puppies in and just selling them on as a business,’ she explained.
‘Some have been sick, and there was nothing that we could really do.
‘There isn’t anything in the law that protects the animals, and stops people doing it.
‘We’re hoping for the Manx SPCA to have a bit more power. We want them to be able to do on-the-spot inspections, unannounced, and prosecute and follow through with animal welfare issues.
‘Our policies are way behind the UK and other places. The rules and regulations aren’t really that strong; we need to change that.’
Roseleen describes puppy farms as breeding facilities designed to maximise profits and often disregard the physical, social, and emotional health of dogs.
‘Farmed puppies are often bred from ill and malnourished mothers who are not given correct medical attention,’ added Sally Ann Cracknell, also behind the petition. ‘These puppies are not socialised properly and often go on to have health and behavioural problems in later life.
‘When this occurs their owners have to dig very deeply into their pockets to pay for veterinary care or assistance with rehabilitation or the dogs end up in shelters.’
The Manx SPCA’s Margaret Mansfield said the charity supports the principle of more stringent legislation, which would make its job easier.
‘We support anti-puppy farm laws, though there are no puppy farms in the island,’ she said. ‘Our advice would always be, if buying a puppy, buy from a registered breeder, see the parents – or at least the mother – and make sure the dog has been socialised,’
Mrs Mansfield said the charity is aware of cases of some farmed puppies being brought into the island from Europe.
‘As far as bringing animals into the island for re-homing goes, there should be legislation to control that. There seems to be a very strong feeling that the MSPCA doesn’t have the same powers at the RSPCA, but we do. But they are limited. We have to get a vet involved, and the police, if we want to bring a private prosecution.’
Roseleen said draft legislation was being prepared: ‘We don’t sell puppies in shops here, but for some reason it’s OK to do it from home. The regulations are so out of date it needs looking into anyway. Now we need the people to get behind it.’