Please help stop the misery.
STOP AND THINK. If you buy a puppy from the free paper or from the internet, do you REALLY know where it came from? Can you be sure it wasn't a puppy farm?
As we know, unscrupulous dealers, and people who run puppy farms are only interested in one thing - money. There are many web sites devoted to the horrors of puppy farming, yet, despite this some authorities are either not interested or are bound by so many rules that it can be difficult to enforce them. While the bureaucratic battles are being fought, the pups continue to suffer and the 'breeders' continue to make money.
The normal channels of raising a formal grievance is by raising a complaint either to the Police, the Local Authority or the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Sadly, some officials have either lost their passion due to the poor support offered by the judicial system, or they are simply not interested.
Despite the best efforts of many organisations, it is reasonable to say that Joe Public, when presented with a cute and loving puppy will not always be interested in where it came from… not everyone has the courage to challenge someone and ask the awkward questions. Even if the questions were asked, the dealers will lie or move onto the next potential buyer.
One area that is not suggested on many web sites is referring these dealers to the local benefit fraud teams i.e. the Department for Work and Pensions or the Local Authority's fraud team. Listed below are some pointers for doing this. Fraud teams have a lot of statutory powers, yet in my career, spanning some 15 years I have only come across one case and that was one that I initiated. It should be remembered that investigators will only be able to target people who are in receipt of state benefit, including housing and council tax and have no authority to stop the actual puppy sales. If you are able to get an enthusiastic investigator who is willing to push that bit harder, then coupled with the other 'animal related' officials you will stand a better chance of causing the dealer some misery.
What you need to provide.
- You need to be certain the dealer is on benefit. It may be obvious, but…
- Gather evidence - lots of it. Each referral is risk assessed which helps to ensure that resources are targeted towards the 'good' referrals. The best way is to obtain a series of adverts, obtained over weeks or months from various sources. If you know how, you can do internet searches and use them as evidence. This still does not prove that money changed hands and this is what any investigator needs to prove. The best evidence will come in the form of a statement from someone who purchased the pup. You may have to use your detective skills to find them and then to persuade them to give a statement.
- Once you have the evidence, its best if you are willing to supply your details to the investigation agency. Your details will never be revealed to the benefit recipient but it allows the investigator to come back to you if they have any queries.
- Unless the case went to court, you may not get to hear the result of the investigation. This can be frustrating, but that's the law of the land.
- If you refer the case to the DWP they can elect not to investigate it. You may not be able to find out, but just refer the case to the Local Authority's benefit fraud team. As from April this year, Local Authorities are allowed to investigate national benefits, and as Council’s are sometimes more closer to the community than a Government Department you may have better luck with them. Both agencies use the same legislative authority to conduct investigations. One way of referring the case to the local authority, is to go through your local councillor, but again the fraud team have the right not to investigate. Make a nuisance of yourself… and don't go away!!
Sometimes the best way of dealing with matters is not always through the front door. As a Fraud Investigation Manager at a Local Authority I would welcome the opportunity to have my team look into a case. As I need to remain neutral I hope you understand I cannot divulge where I work.
If you need further guidance, please e-mail the rescue and they will pass it over to me.
Here are some links to sites working hard to eradicate the vile trade of puppy farming.