Blog #6 An update from the IGRC during the Coronavirus outbreak

We are living in strange times which none of us could have foreseen when we welcomed in the new decade at the beginning of this year. All of the Trustees hope that Friends of the Charity and all of their companions are keeping safe during the coronavirus outbreak and are following the necessary social distancing regulations designed to keep everyone safe. This lockdown will not be forever but while we endure it, let us stick together and help in the ways that we can.

IGRC Event 2020
As many of you will be aware, the IGRC was planning to host its IGstravaganza event at the beautiful venue of Lowther Castle on 6th June 2020 but, following the Coronavirus outbreak and the Government restrictions in place, the Trustees have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event. We know that many of you were planning to attend and, like us, were looking forward to a summer’s day celebrating all things Italian Greyhound.

For those who had already purchased tickets, the process of issuing refunds is already underway but if you purchased tickets and have not been contacted with regards to your refund, please contact Refunds are being processed as promptly as possible so please be patient.

The IGRC is hoping to host its IGstravaganza in 2022 instead. The new date for the event and the venue will be confirmed in due course.

Keeping safe with your dogs
For dog owners, while the lockdown has significantly impacted all of our lives, the restrictive measures that are currently in place will be affecting how each of us is able to exercise our dogs. Humans are limited to going outdoors for one form of exercise per day – a dog walk would be classified as a form of exercise. For households where there are more one person, it is likely that you will be doing the dog walks in shifts with one person handling the morning walk (using up their daily exercise allowance) and then another household member completing the afternoon walk (using their daily exercise allowance). Thus, the dog(s) gets their usual two walks a day (on average) and a household is behaving in line with the regulations.

For other people, this routine cannot be adopted – if a household is self-isolating or if there is only one person within the home, the restrictions will prove to be more impactful on the daily routine of their dog(s). Some useful infographics have been put together for charities to share and the IGRC is doing so here in this blog. Please click here to view these infographics – they contain some useful content for all dog owners including guidelines and suggestions which may help out some households and their four legged companions during the lockdown.

The Charity’s ongoing work
The times we are currently going through are unprecedented and for many, the economic impact of the Coronavirus will be hard-hitting. The Trustees want to reassure all its Friends and supporters that the IGRC is continuing its work to support Italian Greyhounds and Italian Greyhound crossbreeds who need our help. The welfare of our breed is paramount and during these difficult times, the Charity is on hand to provide support to those who need it.

While many households have more time on their hands during the lockdown and are spending a significantly increased proportion time of their time at home, now is not necessarily the right time to introduce a new dog to the household. The lockdown we are living through will not be forever and our present lifestyles will not remain so beyond the shutdown – people will return to work and shops and pubs will reopen so the time that people spend at home will reduce as “normality” returns.

If you and your family are considering getting a new dog, just remember that the way we are living our lives at the moment is not for forever – will your lifestyle still suit a dog and will you still have the required amount of time to dedicate to a dog after normality returns? If the answer to either of these questions is “no”, please refrain from getting a new dog. In the long-term, this will cause heartbreak for you and your family when you later cannot cope with the dog and this could then cause significant disruption and upheaval for the dog too. Rather than the traditional saying of “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”, maybe let us use the re-phrased saying of “A dog is for life, not just for the coronavirus shutdown.”

The IGRC is continuing to carry out its work throughout the outbreak, primarily providing support and advice over the phone or via email. We welcome genuine enquiries and we are always available to provide support to IG/IG-cross owners who are struggling to cope with their dogs or who simply want some advice about caring for their dogs.

Keep safe everybody and, if you have a dog, enjoy the precious extra time that you are having with your canine companions – they will help ease any anxieties you may have.

Important information about Commercial Breeders

Please find below important information for any prospective IG owner regarding Commercial Dog Breeders breeding Italian Greyhounds and IG Crossed Breeds in the UK. If you are looking to buy an IG puppy, please read on…

The Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity receives many enquiries from potential Italian Greyhound puppy buyers, most of whom do not wish to buy from commercial breeders. As detailed below, commercial breeders (people who breed and sell puppies for financial gain) should have a breeding license issued by their local council. However, we know of only one online puppy sales site that requires the advertisers’ commercial licence number to be given. Therefore, prospective owners need to be alert and not simply rely on a licence number to identify commercial breeders.

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[Copyright: Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity]

The Charity hopes the following information collated from the relevant council websites will be useful in identifying if the breeder you have contacted is a commercial breeder of Italian Greyhounds or Italian Greyhound Crossbreeds and has, or requires, a breeder’s licence.

UK Law states in the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 that a local council-issued dog breeding license is required for anyone who keeps a breeding establishment (including private dwellings) which meets any of the following conditions:

  • Anyone “in the business” of breeding and selling dogs (trading) needs to be licensed regardless of the number of litters they have in a 12 month period. For example if the person is breeding and selling dogs for commercial gain and/or regularly adverting puppies/dogs for sale.
  • England and Scotland – if in a 12 month period their dogs give birth to 5 litters or more, regardless of whether they are in the business of breeding and selling dogs.
  • Wales – if in a 12 month period their dogs give birth to 3 litters or more, regardless of whether they are in the business of breeding and selling dogs.

How local authorities decide if an individual is trading or is “in the business” of breeding and selling dogs, differs from council to council. For example, some councils will require anyone who breeds over 2 litters in a 12 month period to be licensed while others may require anyone keeping more than 2 breeding bitches to be licensed. Each council’s requirements should be visible on their council website and further information can be found here.

Licensed commercial breeders are not allowed to mate a bitch if she is less than one year old and breeding is restricted to a maximum limit of 6 litters per bitch, with at least 12 months between each litter of puppies. (Please note, the IGRC recommends that a bitch is bred from no more than three times and has a minimum of two years between each litter.)

In England and Wales, there are six Licensed Commercial Breeders of IGs and IG crosses who are registered with their local council (correct as of July 2017). But, as detailed below, not all Commercial Breeders are registered with their local council.

Prospective owners must be aware that not all breeders who advertise and breed frequently are licensed with their local council. If you come across a commercial breeder whose licence details cannot be found with the local council, please contact the IGRC and they can investigate the breeder further.

Unfortunately, the online world is increasingly becoming the home of unscrupulous breeders. The IGRC recommends that prospective IG owners avoid puppies and dogs that are advertised on the internet. Instead, the Charity advises new owners to attend Kennel Club dog shows where they can meet lots of Italian Greyhounds, talk about the breed with their owners, and register their interest in a puppy with a reputable breeder.

In conclusion, be alert when carrying out your research for an IG or IG-cross puppy. If anything about a breeder or their premises unsettles you, please do not ignore your instincts. And if you have any concerns regarding a particular advert or breeding establishment, please feel free to contact the IGRC to discuss your observations.

The Italian Greyhound Cash Cow

With the news that Consumer Direct reported a concerning 40% increase in the number of complaints they have received related to the purchase of pets, largely dogs between 2006 and 2008, and 5,000 complaints in 2008 we are not surprised. Live puppies and dogs whether bought from a person or trading establishment are covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

The reason? The advent of the internet in the late 1990’s, prior to this breeders advertised their IG puppies in certain publications and these breeders were generally known and discouraged by responsible IG breeders. Sadly for the poor IGs it is now so easy for these breeders to sit in the comfort of their own home and advertise puppies or stud dogs on the internet, whilst some of the poor dogs being used to breed from are being kept outside, or confined to wire cages with no life other than producing puppies.

The Internet provides a false front, a flowery advert, directly aimed at making the IG into a ‘must have breed’ – miniature whippets, as delicate to look at as a piece of porcelain, if that is what you want, have the porcelain on your mantelpiece, all you will need to do is dust it occasionally, without the true commitment of a life with an IG.

On average 18 new adverts per week appear on the internet, common sites such as Epupz, Preloved, Classified Ads and many others, featuring pictures of barely dry puppies or only a few weeks old, being held up legs a straddle, fearful tiny eyes. Really loved puppies look happy and relaxed, but not these poor little mites and there are so many of them.

It doesn’t stop at puppies, adults who don’t have a useful purpose are advertised too, without breeding restrictions, inciting other unscrupulous people to buy an IG and use them for their own gain, with no thought as to their welfare. Even sick dogs with a fractured limb have been sold, better to reduce the price and let someone else have the problem and the vets bills, and even worse with inherited life threatening diseases, where an obviously ill puppy was advertised on the internet three times over and eventually the last advertiser said she was depressed, realising that this was the third time this 9 month old puppy was up for sale, we were able to do something about it and save her life, but we can’t save them all.

Of course the real reason for all the IG’s being bred is nothing other than money, puppies are being sold regularly for anything up to £2,000, money does not ensure a permanent loving home for the IG.

The Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity reject as unsuitable many homes at the initial enquiry stage and a number each year fail the essential home check for suitability for an IG. Before much longer our delightful breed is going to become the must have accessory which past breeders and owners have always fought so hard to ensure this doesn’t happen with all the awful consequences that ensue.

We would like to see an amendment to the animal Welfare act to ban the advertising of dogs on the internet; you too can help by spreading the word to never consider buying an Italian Greyhound advertised on the internet and by informing admirers of an Italian Greyhound’s true needs and what they are like to live with.

Of course for the breed to survive we will always need dedicated breeders who really care about the offspring they produce and always keep in touch with their new owners to give any help and advice, not people who breed teens of puppies, how can anyone possibly keep track of 90+ puppies and be able to help if there is a problem if their only concern is producing yet more for money?

Italian Greyhound Breeder Prosecuted Under the Animal Welfare Act

We are rehoming more and more Italian Greyhounds every year. This increase in the number of Italian Greyhounds that need our support is largely due to the increase in the number of home breeders and commercial breeders who take a less than responsible approach to homing their Italian Greyhound puppies.

Sadly we see puppies and adult Italian Greyhounds coming from the same ‘breeders’ over and over again – their lack of consideration for the home that the Italian Greyhound is being sold into results in the Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity picking up the pieces – and that is only if the dog gets lucky.

One breeder who has bred large numbers of Italian Greyhounds for sale is Susan Thomas, Francole Italian Greyhounds, based in Heol y Bryn, South Wales. Susan Thomas and her husband were successfully prosecuted by their Local Authority under the Animal Welfare Act in 2012. Read the official statement from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

The Thomas’ admitted to breeding 89 puppies in just three years. On the first day that the authorities visited their house there were 38 dogs kept on the premises, including 10 puppies. There were 12 dog crates in the kitchen area, which usually contained 2 dogs, that were crated over night and also confined throughout the day.  Conditions were found to be unhygienic and the number of dogs kept in the crates and the time within which they were contained was deemed unacceptable by the court.

It has been reported to us that Susan Thomas is still actively breeding dogs for sale and advertising them on the internet.

Please do your research if you are buying an Italian Greyhound and make sure that you are not rewarding unscrupulous breeders and puppy farmers for abusing these beautiful dogs.