Puppy farm documentary premieres at Westminster

It was the very first time an animal welfare film premiered at the Houses of Parliament, and I was very honoured to be a guest.

Co-Producer Marc ‘The Vet’ Abraham of PupAid co-hosted the event with MP Andrea Jenkyns. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was in good company with other concerned organisations such as Humane Society International, The Mayhew Animal Home, C.A.R.I.A.D., celebrity activist Peter Egan and the Kennel Club.

The feature-length docu-film Dog by Dog, directed by Christopher E. Grimes and produced by 5414 Productions, shows the horrifying living conditions and rescue stories of dogs from puppy mills in America (known as puppy farms in the UK). Whilst we have all seen awful pictures and videos of dogs in cages this film delved a little deeper.

Its main aim is to examine ‘the umbrella of monetary support, which has sentenced millions of healthy dogs to death and allowed the most irresponsible dog breeders to thrive’…a story that has never been told before.

I was astounded by the numbers: An estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States provide up to four million puppies each year. Large-scale breeders stand to make an annual, tax-free income of $500,000 (£330,000) or more and, disturbingly, can also obtain farming subsidies for their wider farming operations.

The film went on to state that two million puppies are sold online and through third-party sellers in the US each year, with the states of Missouri and Oklahoma producing half of all puppies sold in nationwide pet stores.

You can just imagine those long journeys across states in the back of a truck, taken too early from their mothers, and quite possibly in ill health. There was a first-person account of a woman who had bought a puppy online and had it delivered only for things to go terribly wrong.

One may think that no one in Britain would do that, but the fact of the matter is it happens here too.

There were some poignant parts of the film for me; the story of a one-man mission to save the animals one by one, dog by dog; and also during the end credits where the film was dedicated ‘to all the dogs currently in puppy mills, all the dogs rescued from puppy mills, and to all the dogs that never were’. At that point I think I may have got something in my eye.

The film has already had a number of screenings in the US (see dates here) and will also shortly arrive to UK screens.

IFAW UK Director Philip Mansbridge, Marc ‘The Vet’ Abraham and the author at the Dog by Dog premiere

IFAW has been busy working behind the scenes to ensure that dogs in the UK get the protection they need. Recently, we attended the APGAW Dog Conference where MPs and canine stakeholders got together to discuss leading dog welfare topics, such as the illegal trade of puppies, and how we could achieve cross-party consensus to improve welfare for dogs in the UK.

At the conference, MP George Eustice announced an upcoming Government consultation on dog breeding – which will give us a unique opportunity to really stand up for our voiceless friends. We have a 12-week window for this consultation, and we intend to use the inspiration behind this film, as well as IFAW data and reports into the puppy trade, as drivers to improve welfare standards for dogs in the UK.

--VA

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