CARLOW County Council is to issue a report into how a licence was given to a puppy farm in Myshall just six months before it was shut down because of the horrific conditions in which hundreds of dogs were kept.
Cllr Adrienne Wallace tabled a notice in motion at the November meeting of Carlow County Council calling on it to launch “an extensive report” into how the farm got the licence, while she also wanted the council to publish a list of recommendations that would prevent such a situation happening again.
In April 2015, the ISPCA found so many dogs dead or living in squalid conditions at the Myshall puppy farm that the owner was later sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for cruelty to animals.
Senior executive officer Eamonn Brophy told last week’s council meeting the councillors that under the old legislation, inspectors would inform puppy farm owners before they made inspections and that the Myshall farm was visited twice in 2013 and in again in October 2014, six months before it was shut down.
Mr Brophy continued that the council had made recommendations to the owners, that there was “no concern about the number of dogs there on the first or second visit”, and it was felt that issues which arose would be addressed by recommendations made by the council.
Councillors heard that the legislation about pre-arranged visits had changed after the gruesome discovery in Myshall and that inspectors could now drop into puppy farms unannounced.
Ms Wallace, who had called for a report, also wanted to know what recommendations that council had given to the owners.
“The devil is in the detail. This is not a witch hunt. I want to ensure that the system is up to scratch and that this doesn’t happen again,” Ms Wallace said. She also called for the report to be made public and sought assurances that the council had enough staff to police puppy farms.
Cllr Michael Doran endorsed the practice of unannounced visits by inspectors, while cllr Charlie Murphy asserted that “things have moved on and regulations have changed” since the Myshall closure, but added that it was a “very emotive issue”.
“We can’t change the past, but we must ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” said cllr Andrea Dalton.
Mr Brophy replied that the council had consulted with the Department of Agriculture and the ISPCA with regard to preventing the situation from happening again. The council now has unannounced access to such premises, and that, plus legal changes, he said, made for a more robust system for preventing animal neglect and cruelty.
The councillors then voted unanimously in favour of the council’s report to be circulated among themselves.