THE safety of thousands of puppies and kittens may have been impacted by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, claims Carmarthenshire Labour Councillors.

Concerns have been raised that with puppy prices soaring during the lockdown, and the pause of inspection of premises earlier this year, thousands of puppies could have been living in poor conditions before sale.

Figures from the Pets4Homes website, based on about 150,000 adverts, showed the average price being asked from March to September was £1,883. During the same period last year the average price was £888.

The claim comes on the back of an announcement by the Welsh Government that the commercial third party sale of puppies and kittens will end in Wales by next May.

Carmarthenshire is known to be one of the puppy farm capitals of Wales, with 85 licensed large scale dog breeders, around 10 of which have more than 100 dogs.

Last year, a BBC Wales investigative programme found issues with enforcement within Carmarthenshire of licensed properties.

As a result of the lockdown, Carmarthenshire Council paused its application process for new breeders and there is now a backlog of applications being dealt with by the authority. It is feared by Councillors that with prices soaring, new applicants may have bred dogs illegally whilst awaiting for their application to be considered.

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The announcement by the Welsh Government was welcomed by Carmarthenshire Labour Councillors, claiming it will be an “important tool” in the authorities’ arsenal in tackling animal welfare issues. It was also stated that they would write to write to the Minister in the coming days to ensure that future legislation closed the loophole on dogs being sent on “holidays” to other parts of the UK for breeding and strengthening the current regulations around licensed breeders.

Councillor Rob James, Opposition Leader of Carmarthenshire Council, stated “The announcement by Welsh Ministers that there will be a ban of the third party sale of puppies and kittens by May is most welcomed and will be an important tool in our arsenal to tackle animal welfare issues.

“We have been concerned that with puppy prices soaring as a result of the lockdown, coupled with a pause in the Authority processing new applications for breeders, illegal puppy breeding may be extremely prevalent in Carmarthenshire.

“We known from the BBC Wales documentary last year that the Plaid Cymru-led authority have had significant issues tackling the issue in recent years and it is essential that we keep our eye on the ball to protect the welfare of thousands of puppies bred each year.

“We will be writing to the Minister to ensure that the loopholes we have seen with the English legislation are closed and that we strengthen the current regulations around licensed breeders at the same time.”

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