Scotland politics

Appetite for designer dogs 'unquenchable', MSPs are told

Mark Rafferty and Eileen Bryant Image copyright PA
Image caption Mark Rafferty and Eileen Bryant gave evidence to the Public Petitions Committee

The demand for "designer puppies" in Scotland has led to a rise in unlicensed breeding, MSPs at Holyrood have been told.

The Scottish SPCA's Mark Rafferty also said there was an "unquenchable" appetite for designer breeds of dogs.

He spoke to the Public Petitions Committee which is considering calls to regulate the sale and "deplorable" living conditions of puppies.

Members agreed to write to ministers and Police Scotland over the matter.

They will also take the views of animal welfare groups and local councils.

Mr Rafferty claimed that designer breeds commanded price tags averaging £1,000 per puppy.

He added that celebrity and consumer culture was contributing to animals and dogs being seen as "throwaway commodities" for some people.

Mr Rafferty said: "Unfortunately, I can't give you a number but it is a very serious and significant amount of animals that are coming into Scotland."

The Holyrood committee is looking at a petition from campaigner Eileen Bryant from Stranraer.

She wants tougher action to address the farming and illegal transportation of puppies.

Image copyright PA

Mr Rafferty said that while Scotland did not have a problem with large-scale puppy farms as in Ireland, there was "very little" enforcement at the sales end which is subject to unlicensed trading.

He agreed with Conservative MSP Maurice Corry, who suggested fashions were having a "significant impact in driving demand and potentially leading to an increase in unlicensed breeding".

Mr Rafferty said: "What you are getting is irresponsible or downright deceitful breeding of adult dogs that are producing pups that actually don't fit the breed standard because there is no breed standard.

"So, there is a cavalier or irresponsible approach by the breeders to the puppies."

Ms Bryant's petition urges the Scottish government to investigate measures to regulate the sales; look at the conditions in which the puppies are kept and to consider a campaign to raise public awareness.

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