Dogs4Us marketing hype


In this page, we'll take a look at the key claims made by Raymond McCadden's latest company, Pet Planet Superstore Ltd trading as Dogs 4 Us, to promote their business, and give you our views on them. Raymond McCadden left at least £1.96 million owing to HMRC and other creditors when seven of his previous companies went into liquidation.

DOGS4US:

"We have been trading for over 45 years, are licensed to sell puppies by our local authority and have announced and unannounced inspections."

The Crazy Gang say:

Without wishing to split hairs, the business has been through several changes of name and ownership since it began life as the late and unlamented Mayfield Kennels Ltd in 1965, but we accept that regrettably, production line puppies have been sold here for a long time.

To the best of our knowledge, Dogs 4 Us operates within current laws and we do not suggest otherwise. However, the current law governing the sale of animals in pet shops is the Pet Animals Act 1951. That’s right, it was introduced over 60 years ago and apart from a few minor amendments, remains as it was then.


In 1951 the ownership of pedigree dogs was relatively rare and most people’s pet pooches were mongrels, fondly known as Heinz 57s. Neutering was not the common practice it is today and many homes found themselves with puppies either by accident or design. If someone couldn’t sell all the puppies themselves, or didn’t want the bother of selling an unwanted litter, the local pet shop would take them off their hands.

Fast forward to today and that local supply of hybrid puppies has gone and the vogue is for pedigree dogs. Since responsible pedigree breeders will only sell direct to vetted buyers, the principal source for pet shops is large scale commercial breeders who are operating purely for profit. To their credit, the vast majority of pet shops do not wish to be part of this trade and no longer sell puppies.

Although it's obviously possible for pet shops to be successful without the sale of puppies, a few, of which Dogs 4 Us is the largest, continue to take the view that if the law permits it, extra profit opportunities are much more important than moral and ethical considerations.

Even with the outdated law, local authorities have the opportunity to introduce their own pet shop licence conditions which would effectively limit puppy farms as a source of supply. We applaud the few which have listened to local opinion and done so, but without legislative pressure, most of them, including Salford and Leeds, do not regard this as a priority.

When the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) introduced the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it undertook to bring in detailed secondary legislation within 5 years to address a number of issues, including the replacement of the Pet Animals Act 1951 with regulations more appropriate to the 21st Century. It has so far failed to do so and we will look at what is being done to bring pressure to bear in our next published topic.


DOGS4US:


"Our wide selection of pedigree puppies are mostly from licensed breeders which are inspected at least once a year by their local authority."

The Crazy Gang say:

It’s no coincidence that there are more breeders licensed to keep 10 or more breeding bitches in Wales than in any other part of the UK. And by far the highest concentration of those breeders are located in the counties of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

In spite of years of protests and volumes of evidence of poor welfare standards, these authorities seem happy to hand out breeding licenses to any farmer with no experience of dog breeding, but who has a cow shed or some pig pens going spare and wants to add another cash crop to their business.

On more than one occasion, Carmarthenshire has licensed dog breeding premises for years without even bothering to check whether their colleagues in the Planning Department had granted permission for that use. Needless to say, once they were found out, retrospective planning consent was granted, in spite of substantial opposition from welfare groups and the public.

When it comes to the annual inspections which are supposed to take place in order to maintain a licence, with at least 14 days prior warning, the breeders have plenty of time to clean up their act. In some cases though, the evidence of conditions obtained by investigators was so dreadful that 14 weeks would not have been sufficient to bring the premises up to a reasonable standard, yet licenses were not revoked.

We can only assume that in these circumstances, the inspection was based on the officer winding down their car window whilst parked at the farm entrance and waving cheerily to the farmer before ticking the boxes on their form.

Three guesses where the pedigree charts for the puppies purchased from Dogs 4 Us, and reported to welfare groups as having developed severe health problems, showed as their breeders’ locations.


DOGS4US:


"All our puppies come with a six month congenital defect guarantee. That is something you would NOT get from a breeder."

The Crazy Gang say:

If you assume this means Dogs 4 Us will pay your vet bills in the event that a puppy purchased from them displays a congenital defect within six months, think again.

They will offer a replacement, and in some circumstances your money back. That’s fine if the purchase was of a washing machine or TV, but most of us would just want the puppy we had come to love to have the best possible life, not to be replaced and quietly destroyed.

In reality, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 gives you far more protection, whoever you purchase the puppy from, and may well enable you to claim for the veterinary costs which Dogs 4 Us would like to deny you by promoting their much vaunted, but largely worthless guarantee.

Of course the best option is follow HM Government's advice and not purchase from a pet shop in the first place.