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"Puppy farming" causing concern among vets in Greater Helsinki area
Imports from Estonia and Russia seen as bigger problem
The popularity of small dog breeds has led to some unfavourable phenomena in the Greater Helsinki area. The city veterinarians of Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa have encountered several cases of puppy farming or the import of puppies that are in poor condition.
The maltreatment of puppies became public again when some 50 dogs were taken into custody from a kennel in Espoo two weeks ago. The police are investigating the case as an offence of cruelty to animals.
The Vantaa District Court, in turn, ordered a breeder who produced about 100 puppies per year while failing to provide proper care to the dogs to be restrained from keeping animals.
In Helsinki, the veterinarians are keeping an eye on an owner who has 15 animals with occasional litters in an apartment.
However, a large-scale puppy mill is not often seen in the Greater Helsinki area, as the relatively high population density is bound to uncover suspicious cases very soon.
"A bigger problem is the import of puppies that are brought for sale from Estonia and Russia", reports Helsinki’s Animal Protection Veterinarian Tuija Saari.
"Small breeds are expensive in Finland, while they are a lot cheaper in Estonia and Russia. However, these puppies are often plagued by illnesses, causing suffering and loss to the owner", she notes.
The brokers of puppies can often earn some EUR 500 for each animal. Vantaa’s City Veterinarian Johanna Puro is surprised that the tax authorities are not interested in a certain broker in Vantaa who sells at least 100 puppies a year without paying any taxes.
On the other hand, it is difficult to intervene in the business run by puppy mills and brokers as they frequently operate more or less within the bounds of the Animal Protection Act.
In obvious cases of animal protection, three courses of action are stated in the Act: advice, orders, and taking the animal victims into custody.
The Animal Protection Act should be reformed, says Tuija Saari, as the neglect of direct instructions as such does not lead to taking into custody. "All the veterinarians can do is to issue new orders to comply", Saari reports.
Consequently, the veterinarians, the societies for the protection of animals, and the Finnish Kennel Club now wish to appeal to the buyers of pets. Prospective buyers should be careful to question anyone they are considering as a source for a puppy.
"Stop puppy farming, do not buy a grey-market puppy", says a notice on the bulletin board at the practice of Vantaa’s City Veterinarian.
"There would be no grey market, if people did not support low-cost production", comments Kaija Unhola of the Finnish Kennel Club.
”People should notify the authorities about all suspicious cases”, Unhola concludes.