On 16th August 2017 our appeal time ran out.
Unable to clear our legal fees, our legal team were unable to continue our fight to stop the suffering of dogs held in Puppy farms unable to exhibit natural behaviour, have a suitable environment or be free from pain suffering and disease.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us and donated, sadly for the dogs we are back to the starting blocks but with the clear and disturbing knowledge that the Animal Welfare Act does NOT protect one of the most vulnerable groups of animals in the UK - those held in puppy farms.
There are a number of avenues open to us to rectify this, but we cannot continue without financial support.
We currently owe over £29,000 to our legal team with the Council fees still to come. Obviously we are only a small charity and in our quest to make a difference, we have been left in a precarious position.
We will keep going for as long as we are able, and thank you all for your support.
High Court ruling confirms the need for urgent reform of dog breeding legislation
On Wednesday 26th July 2017, judgment was handed down by Mr Justice Garnham, in a test case brought by an animal welfare charity which aimed to set a legal precedent that would have helped to see an end to the suffering of dogs held in licensed, large scale commercial breeding establishments or ‘puppy farms’.
In bringing the case Chancepixies Animal Welfare, a tiny charity based in Kent, hoped to persuade the Judge that the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Code of Practice issued under it should apply when a commercial dog breeding establishment applies to its local council for a dog breeding licence. Presently, most councils only consider the requirements of the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 which prescribes matters such as size of kennels and levels of heating and lighting, but does not deal with more qualitative aspects of dog welfare, such as the need for dogs to have appropriate levels of human contact.
The Judge found that when inspecting commercial breeding establishments local authorities are not required to consider in detail the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs (issued under the Animal Welfare Act 2006). Giving judgment, the Judge said: “…the Code was not designed to be a list of pre-requisites for the grant of a licence under the 1973 Act. … Had that been Parliament’s intention the 2006 Act could have specified that was so”.
The judgment highlights an anomaly in the legal framework which effectively holds puppy farmers to lower standards of animal welfare than those to which every day owners of pet dogs are held.
Heidi Anderson, a trustee of the charity said “North Kesteven District Council has over a number of years continued to renew the licence of a particularly large ‘puppy farm’ – allowing it to keep 200 breeding bitches. At the last inspection there were a staggering 368 dogs on site. Of these 142 were puppies and 226 were adult dogs. The proprietors say that they have 14 full time staff members (although they gave a conflicting account of the number of staff and working patterns in a case brought against them by HMRC earlier this year). Even 14 full time staff, in our view, are insufficient to give the 368 dogs the focused affection and companionship that they need. These dogs were, after all, bred over generations by humans, to live with humans, as companions. We are supposedly a nation of dog lovers. If so, how have we allowed this to happen?”
Although bitterly disappointed at the result, the charity remains upbeat and will renew its efforts on campaigning to obtain support from DEFRA and the Government to address this discrepancy.
Heidi Anderson added: “Unfortunately, our charity is not a wealthy one; we came into this sector to make a difference not make money, and this action had the ability to make such a huge difference that we felt it was worth the risk, we still believe this to be the case and we can still make a national change, but only if we survive, this case may well cost the charity everything unless it gets the financial support to continue.”
You can support the ongoing work of Chancepixies via their website www.chancepixies.com or their crowdfunding page https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-for-puppy-farm-dogs/
May 2017 - Permission received!
Permission granted! We had some excellent news on Friday and our case has been given permission to proceed against NKDC for continuing to licence puppy farms.
This is fantastic news, but we need your help in order to continue, please donate, share and help us make a difference:
What our case could achieve:
1. The existing legislation of the Animal Welfare Act, HAS to be properly applied when considering a licence - can you mass produce pet dogs and abide by the Act...we think not.
2. This sets a precedence across all Councils in England, whereby every licencing authority is legally bound to licence against the AWA as the primary piece of legislation for animals.
3. This gives us a good base to go into Wales, where the same Animal Welfare Act also applies.
4. Coupled with a ban on third party sales, we would have made a huge leap forward in protecting dogs from irresponsible breeding and ownership.
N.B. We are not against dog breeding, we love dogs and don't want to see an end to them, but we do want to see an end to their abuse, neglect and abandonment. There is a HUGE difference between irresponsible and responsible breeding, where people take on the responsibilities that come with the decision to bring life into the world, including future homes, health, character, genetics, the welfare of the parent dogs and their progeny.
Irresponsible breeding is where money is the driving force behind all decisions, leading to compromised welfare of parent dogs and progeny, with little/no thought or action taken regarding health, welfare, character, genetics or future homes.
Following the expected response to our Pre-Action Protocol letter from the Council, our Permission bundle to the Courts for Judicial Review number two against NKDC was filed just before Christmas. Due to the holiday season there were the inevitable delays, but we now have their response and our reply is being sent.
It will then be up to the Judge to decide if our case gets heard in Court at the Substantive stage of Judicial Review.
In the meantime, we have learned that despite a costs order being issued by the Judge against the Council back in September, they are still to make payments towards the last costs
On Thursday 1st December a (30 page) 'Pre-Action' protocol letter was sent out to North Kesteven District Council following their decision to re-licence the premises for 200 breeding bitches.
We are challenging their decision on animal welfare grounds and they have 14 days in which to respond.
We will keep you informed...
The Court hearing of 5th September 2016 was vacated as all parties had agreed to the quashing of the January and June licences.
A sealed order has since been received, giving North Kesteven District Council until 23.59 on 18th October 2016 to make a decision on whether or not to grant a new licence to Little Rascals/Swindells Livestock Ltd/Key Lime Tree Ltd.
WATCH THIS SPACE!
We were in court for the third time on 21 July 2016. The signs remain positive - that the Council will concede the challenge to the January licence, at which point we will review our position with our legal team (and we will of course keep all of our amazing and generous supporters updated). When the settlement is finalised we will get our legal costs paid by the Council which is great news!
However, as the case is taking longer than expected we urgently need to raise more funds to stay in the game.
Please give what you can to keep us going in our David v Goliath fight! www.crowdjustice.co.uk/puppies
Chancepixies in the Press
Many thank to monthly publication 'Dogs Today' for featuring our charity and our case against puppy farms in your online portal.
The link to the page is here: http://dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/2016/07/06/taking-on-britains-biggest-puppy-farmer/
TAKING ON BRITAIN'S BIGGEST PUPPY FARMER
6TH JULY 2016
When Chancepixies, a tiny independent charity in Kent, decided it was time to take legal action against the council responsible for licensing the biggest puppy farming operation in the UK, it was real life David vs. Goliath.
The founders and trustees of Chancepixies, driven to despair over the number of unwanted dogs circulating through the UK's pounds and rescues every year, wanted to do something to prevent overbreeding, and challenge the public's attitude towards buying puppies. Contacting all of the local authorities in England and Wales, they discovered a licence for a puppy farmer in North Kesteven, and were horrified by the numbers it allowed.
'Swindells' is the breeding establishment in question, licensed to hold 200 breeding bitches and therefore capable of churning out over 1000 puppies a year. It trades under the name 'Little Rascals', and advertises numerous breeds and 'designer' crossbreeds for sale on its website, from as little £295. With so many animals, it's impossible to think all are being given the individual love and care that dogs so desperately seek.
Co-founder and Trustee Heidi Anderson says, “Local authorities have control of dog breeding in their areas. They have the power to grant or refuse dog breeding licences and to set out conditions attached to licences. On 20 January 2016 North Kesteven District Council granted a license to a Lincolnshire puppy farm to keep 200 breeding bitches and 59 stud dogs, and in so doing they completely ignored the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
"We visited the establishment in 2013, the first year its licence allowed them to hold 200 breeding bitches. The puppies/litters on display were on clean wood-shavings and appeared outwardly healthy, but the sad truth is that this is not a suitable, natural environment for a domestic pet dog to live in; this was very much a farmyard environment. The premises is an old dairy farm; the buildings in use were designed to keep cattle. The public are not allowed access to the majority of the buildings, a small number of the 60 stud dogs were ‘on display’ (eight small males of various breeds in a small pen in the yard), [and] other than that there were no other adult dogs on view. The dogs are clearly not cared for, raised or treated as the domestic pets that they were designed for and are sold as, despite the basic rights of a suitable environment, ability to exhibit natural behaviour and to be free from suffering, pain or disease being protected under the AWA.
"The licensees are farmers, and possibly do not see that they are doing anything wrong; indeed they have held such a licence for in excess of 10 years. The council however have been given the power to enforce legislation and this premises does not care for these dogs in the proper manner under AWA requirements which has been in place since 2007 - the responsibility lies at their door..."
In April this year, Chancepixies decided to act, and launched a legal challenge against North Kesteven District Council and its decision to licence Little Rascals, on the grounds that the Animal Welfare Act was being ignored. In a hurried response, the council cancelled the breeding licence and reissued it under new terms, correcting several mistakes. But it wasn't good enough. On 28 June, a High Court judge agreed with Chancepixies that re-determining the breeding licence was not allowed.
"Where does this leave our Animal Welfare Act challenge?" Heidi explains, "Well, we will be monitoring the actions of the Council very closely and at the right time, in the next few weeks, we will bring a new judicial review challenge to the new licence. Round one to us. Round two to follow!"
It's hoped that the council will simply concede and quash the licence, but the fight will continue, as the licence will be granted again without some of the flaws. Chance pixies therefore continue to need money to bring a new judicial review. You can help contribute to ending the suffering in this landmark case here.
Little Rascals were contacted to comment but have not as yet.
UPDATE! Puppy farming in the dock.
An update on our judicial review case, which aims to put an end to the suffering of puppy farm dogs.
We have exciting news!
You will recall that our case is against North Kesteven District Council which irresponsibly licences an enormous establishment called Little Rascals to keep 200 breeding bitches. It currently has a total of 336 dogs!
Our case challenged the Council’s decision in January 2016 to grant a dog breeding licence to Little Rascals. We pointed out several errors in their licensing decision, including their obvious failure to consider the welfare of the dogs as the Animal Welfare Act 2006 requires. The Council tried to get around its mistakes by cancelling the January 2016 licence and re-determining it, and in the process rectifying some of its errors.
However, On 28 June 2016 Mr Justice Edis granted us ‘Permission’ to challenge North Kesteven District Council. Our legal team had identified flaws in the licence granted by North Kesteven in January 2016 and the judge agreed that our case was arguable. Ordinarily, we would move to the next stage (the main hearing) BUT given the Judge’s comments it is likely that the Council will soon concede that it will need to start the licensing process from scratch.
Where does this leave our Animal Welfare Act challenge? Well, it is highly likely that the Council will grant a new licence and we will be monitoring developments very closely…
Round one to us. Round two to follow!
To bring a new judicial review we will need all the help and support we can get. Our crowdfunding page is live at: www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/puppies. Please consider giving to help us end the suffering of puppy farm dogs. We need 250 people to donate £25 in the next 7 days to make our initial target of £10,000.
Thank you for your support.
Puppy farming in the Dock
On 28 June 2016 the Administrative Court will decide whether a judicial review aiming to bring an end to puppy farming can proceed to a full hearing. The suffering caused by puppy farming and irresponsible breeding were recently highlighted in a BBC Panorama Programme 'Britain's Puppy Dealers Exposed' .
A small independent animal welfare charity 'Chancepixies' is challenging North Kesteven District Council in Lincolnshire which has granted a dog breeding licence to a large scale commercial breeding establishment - a 'puppy farm' - permitting it to produce hundreds of puppies each year.
The charity which has been campaigning against irresponsible breeding for some years is concerned about the conditions in which the dogs are kept. The establishment keeps several hundred parent dogs (or 'breeding stock') which are not screened for medical conditions before breeding, and which live out their lives in wholly unsuitable conditions, in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The puppies produced in such establishments will often have health conditions - sometimes serious and often painful - which may only come to light several years later.
The aim of the judicial review is to ensure councils take note and put into effect the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 when deciding whether to licence dog breeding.
Chancepixies Animal Welfare are a small, independent charity registered in England and Wales, dedicated to preventing abandonment and neglect of animals in our country and reduce the need for rescue. There are laws in place able to prevent much of the animal suffering we see today, these laws need to properly understood and enforced by those empowered to use them.
Chancepixies is crowdfunding for the case: Stop the suffering of puppy farm dogs
Notes to the editors:
Bindmans LLP was founded in 1974 by pre-eminent human rights and civil liberties lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC (Hon). Since then we have built a formidable reputation for our commitment to human rights and our ethical, creative and campaigning approach to legal issues. We often represent some of the most vulnerable people in society and champion cases which challenge the law.
For further information please contact:
Judicial Review and Public law
T: +44 (0)20 7833 4433
Bindmans Press Office
T: +44 (0)20 7833 4433
CrowdJustice page goes live!
The crowdfunding site 'CrowdJustice' is lauched our funding page for the campaign against 'legal' puppy farms at 8am on Monday 23rd May 2016.
BBC 1 aired a Panorama programme on 16th May 2016 which has helped to highlight the issues created by the Councils licensing the commercial breeding establishments across the UK.
We are fighting a case against a Council in England who have licensed an establishment for upto 200 breeding bitches and we need your help to bring this case to its full potential.
The Panorama programme can be viewed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07cgscx/panorama-britains-puppy-dealers-exposed.
Please watch this programme, read our campaigning page and help us stop this abhorrent trade at source - preventing Councils from being able to license these commercial breeding establishments. As a national registered Charity in England and Wales, we cannot at this time effect Scotland or Ireland. However we can directly affect England and Wales, which should then in turn affect Scotland and Ireland. Please help these dogs and support this campaign.
PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (16/05/16)
Council admits that a license granted to an establishment to hold up to 200 breeding bitches was flawed.
The case for the Judicial Review of ‘Puppy Farm’ licensing brought by independent charity Chancepixies Animal Welfare v North Kesteven District Council, was applied for on 31st March. The Councils response was submitted to the Courts on 25th April which contained the admittance that “…the license application needs to be considered afresh and a new inspection take place.”
In the Council response they have also accused the Charity of not have the standing to be able to bring such a case on the basis that “… the small charity bringing the claim are not impacted by the claim and are based in Dover.” Chancepixies strongly dispute these claims and will be continuing with their case.
Although they have remained a small organisation, the charity does not believe that size should be a deciding factor in making such a change, indeed they are the only organisation – large or small - to have taken this action against those responsible for the licensing of puppy farms, the Councils.
In addition to this, they have also continued to rescue and rehome a modest amount of dogs since becoming a registered charity. The charity had previously been heavily involved with the rehoming aspect, due to holding the stray dog contracts of a number of their local Council and Police authorities from October 2004 to mid 2007. During this time they rehomed over 1,000 dogs and reunited over 800 with their owners from their centre, which includes 28 kennels, and it became glaringly obvious that this alone was not solving the problem of the UK’s unwanted and abandoned dogs.
The Council have also stated in their response that “This is not such a grave case…”.
Although this may not seem a grave case to them, to Chancepixies this represents a flagrant and serious breach of the law by an authority exercising governmental functions which have continued unchecked.
Of an estimated 102,363 stray and unwanted dogs across the UK last year, there were 5,142 put down in the same year, with an additional 24,182 dogs being helped in just 3 animal welfare charities in one year, plus dog related issues in the UK costing the Government in the region of £66.7million per year, and it all stems from irresponsible breeding and supply, exacerbated by poor licensing criteria such as those shown in North Kesteven.
Large scale establishments, often referred to as Puppy Farms, are an obvious form of irresponsible breeding, and it is a case of national interest and concern. Dogs are companion animals, not farm animals or crops and cannot be kept or 'cared for' as a farm animal or crop, those that produce puppies for profit will not have the parent animals, or their offspring’s, health and welfare at heart. It is the Councils obligation and responsibility to ensure that proper standards are upheld when visiting any such establishment and this should apply, no matter what the size of the establishment - the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act should always be taken into consideration.
Having contacted 353 Local Authorities throughout England and Wales for information regarding dog breeding licenses under the FOIA, it was heartening that the vast majority of local authorities were upholding the animal welfare legislation with relatively small numbers allowing large commercial dog breeding establishments. However, the North Kesteven establishment was the biggest with a license for 200 breeding bitches, capable of easily producing over 1,000 puppies a year and therefore warranted a visit. On visiting, it was clear that the dogs are not kept as companion animals.
The breeding establishment ‘Swindells’ is owned by a family of farmers, and one farmer has been quoted as saying that ‘Puppies are no different to me than a crop out in the field’.
With the AWA currently under review by DEFRA (and in particular its enforcement) and the lowering of litters/breeding bitches requirements possibly being reduced to 3 (from 5) then as a charity, Chancepixies feel the need to help make sure that the license being granted means something, and that the AWA is being enforced properly, especially in such a basic and key application.
There are three possible outcomes to this case:
The courts will not give permission to hear the case. In this event, then there is clearly little point of Animal Welfare legislation, if those who are responsible for upholding and enforcing the laws on a local level can break them at will and not be held accountable.
The case is unsuccessful. If our claim is not upheld, it would in effect mean that those holding a dog breeding license do not have to abide by the Animal Welfare Act, despite having more animals than a general pet dog owner who does have to abide by the Animal Welfare Act.
The case is successful. In the event of this happening, it will set a precedent for all other Councils to follow, setting a standard whereby the welfare of the animals kept has to be taken into consideration before a license is granted, i.e. is the companion animal being kept in a companion environment and manner.
Co-founder and Trustee Mrs Heidi Anderson says “Local authorities have control of dog breeding in their areas. They have the power to grant or refuse dog breeding licences and to set out conditions attached to licences. On 20 January 2016 North Kesteven District Council granted a license to a Lincolnshire puppy farm to keep 200 breeding bitches and 59 stud dogs, and in so doing they completely ignored the Animal Welfare Act 2006.”
The case could cost the Charity in the region of £50,000, which to one large UK dog charity is the equivalent to under 25 dogs being rehomed, in contrast to the potential thousands being saved from a life-time of suffering and neglect
A true case of David versus Goliath...please help.
Charity contact: Heidi Anderson, 01304 204429, 07881888560 or
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 was put in place to protect ALL animals in England and Wales.
This case differs from any other action being brought - against the licensing authority, not the 'puppy farm' itself - offering an enforceable long term solution to the daily suffering of thousands of dogs across the country.
Urgent funding is needed for the charity to continue this action.
Due to legal constraints, Chancepixies now have a limited amount of time to raise the initial £10,000 needed towards the £50,000 total target required to bring this case to court.
This one establishment in England is licensed for up to 200 breeding bitches, producing a potential average of 1,200 to 1,600 puppies (average of 6-8 puppies per litter)
Another establishment in England is licensed for 161 breeding bitches producing a potential average of 966 to 1,288 puppies
With 331 English Local Authorities contacted these two Councils are the only ones granting a license to a very large scale establishment, the next size down is for 50 breeding bitches, also in North Kesteven.
The charity is unique in looking to solve the rescue dog problem in the UK through promotion of responsible breeding in the UK and using existing legislation in order to achieve this.
To help Chancepixies end the suffering, you can show your support or donate now at: | | Text: PIXI35 £_ to 70070|Chancepixies, Gravel Lane, West Hougham, Kent, CT15 7AG
Simply put, the AWA 2006 includes the following protection for all animals:
The right to 'a suitable environment' - for a pet dog, Chancepixies are arguing that this can only be a domestic home, not the barns or other outbuildings that are currently used to house hundreds of dogs.
The right to 'exhibit natural behaviour' – the natural behaviour for a pet, companion dog is to be a person’s companion and pet.
The right to be 'protected from pain, suffering and disease' - the dogs in these establishments are generally not health tested prior to producing litters year after year for up to 8 years of age. With many known genetic diseases within many breeds being produced, to not test is potentially exposing these dogs and their resulting generations to a lifetime of pain and suffering.