Ireland; The Puppy Farm Capitol of Europe

So it’s a bit off-topic for the blog, but its very topical in Irish society today. And very close to my heart. Ireland is known as the ‘Puppy farm capital of Europe’, with hundreds of illegal puppy farms in operation today.

A puppy farm, according to Rescue Animals Ireland, is defined as; “a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare and is often in substandard conditions regarding the well-being of dogs in their care. Due to the frequently poor breeding conditions in puppy farms, puppies bred there often suffer from health and/or social problems. Puppies raised in a cramped environment shared by many other dogs become poorly socialized to other dogs and to humans. “

In the UK there are 895 registered puppy farms which produce roughly 70,000 puppies a year, whereas in Ireland there are only 73 registered which produce 30,000 puppies yearly. Worked out that’s 410 puppies per farm per year, compared to 78 per farm in the UK. Some farms have over 500 breeding bitches, where the DSPCA recommend that there are fewer than 10.

Conditions on these farms are atrocious. The mothers are often kept in the dark, having litter after litter with no proper veterinary care (for the pups either) and without access to clean water. enough food and live in their own filth. Puppies that come from these farms often end up with a list of medical complaints and behavioral issues from the lack of care and their cramped conditions, and sometimes lead a very short life as a result. There can be a high risk of in-breeding on puppy farms, and it would not be unusual for the pups to be taken away from the mother before the appropriate 8 weeks.

You could easily be fooled; these illegal breeders know how to pull the wool over the eyes of potential buyers. For example, they have been known to use the same address for multiple sales, and pretend to be a loving family whose pet had a litter. The next week they will pull the same stunt with a totally different litter of puppies. This way, the buyer doesn’t see the conditions of the puppy farm. Or they will ask to meet the buyer in a car park, or deliver the puppy direct to the buyers house.

What you can do;

The best thing you can do if you’re looking for a new pet is to rescue one from a shelter. Rescued dogs are among the most loving, they will have had their vaccinations in most cases and will be micro-chipped. When you rescue a dog, you free up the space in the shelter for them to take in another also, so you really save two dogs.

If you really do have to buy one, there are steps you can take to be sure you are buying from a reputable dealer. These are some tips from Rescue Animals Ireland;

  1. The majority of reputable breeders do not advertise in classified ads on the internet and in newspapers. Check to see if the breeder has multiple breeds for sale.  If they are selling more than one breed, walk away! Check with the Irish Kennel Club for a reputable breeder.
  2. They create ‘designer’ breeds by mixing dogs and creating odd names like “cavachon” (Bichon Frise / Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix) or “puggle” (Pug / Beagle mix).
  3. ‘Teacup’ or miniatures of a breed for sale. Teacup dogs are often dogs that were born prematurely and carry greatly increased health risks. They are prone to heart failure, dental problems, behavioral/temperamental problems and various other complications, many of which are causes of their relatively short lifespans.
  4. Be wary of a breeder that doesn’t show you the area the mother and pups were kept. Ask to see the mother and if possible the father.
  5. If the breeder offers to deliver a pup to your home or meet you in a car park before you have seen it at their home, walk away. This is a common way for breeders to prevent people from seeing the conditions the pups have been raised in.
  6. The pup should come with vaccination information signed by the vet. They should also give information on food, vaccinations, worming etc.
  7. It currently costs 13euro to 20euro register a pup with the Irish Kennel Club. If a breeder claims that both parents of the pup are IKC registered then the pups should also be registered. IKC will not register more than one litter a year from a dog. They will also not register pups if the mother isn’t over one year of age or if the mother is over eight years of age. They can have no more than six litters in their lifetime. This is for the health and well-being of the breeding dog.
  8. Be suspicious if the breeder doesn’t ask questions of you. A responsible breeder will want to ensure that their dogs are going to good homes.
  9. If you suspect that the breeder is a puppy farmer, do not buy from them. Sometimes people will see dogs and pups in bad condition and feel sorry for them and buy them. This only gives the breeder more money and they will continue to breed dogs. Instead report what you have seen. Give as much information about the breeder to your local ISPCA.

You can also donate to the various charities fighting the illegal puppy farm trade and support the care of dogs in shelters. See the links below.


Throughout my life, we have had 4 beautiful dogs. All of which have been rescued. Our third dog, Angel, was adopted through Dogs In Distress. She had been on a puppy farm her entire life and had been over-bred from (a dog should have no more than 6 litters in their lifetime). When she was taken in, she needed a tummy-tuck to get her poor stomach back into shape and just wanted to rest after her ordeal.

When we adopted her a few months after being taken in by Dogs In Distress, we could see in her eyes the pain she had been through. We had no idea what age she was, but she knew she was finally in a home where she was loved. She didn’t know how to play with toys, and had to learn to be able to show affection, but the elderly dog we will had too, Sally, showed her just how to live.

She wasn’t a ‘designer’ breed, she was a beagle crossed with a pointer, and most likely was bred for hunting dogs. We knew she was definitely bred with beagles as it was the only breed of dog she didn’t like to see on the street.

Unfortunately due to her age (we assume she was quite elderly) after 4 years she was taken by an illness. We loved her from the moment she got her and she brought us such a huge amount of joy and comfort.

This was Angel when she was first taken in. She was scrawny, and in desperate need of veterinary care. However, it wasn’t long after we adopted her that she fell in love with life!

Now we have adopted a beautiful black Labrador, who was also from Dogs In Distress. He is by far the happiest, most loving and caring dog we have ever had. He was surrendered to a pound by his family, and then taken in by DID who gave him to a foster home for a few months before we got him.


I have always felt that the personality of a dog is far more important than how they look. Remember, designer breeds carry a lot of health issues and temperament problems.

Please consider rescuing a dog before buying one! If you see something suspicious, report it. (I am very fond of this organisation as they keep the dogs in foster homes while they are waiting to be adopted!)



ALDI & a Brief Look at Animal Testing for Medicine


Aldi. They’re everywhere. They pop up overnight and are nearly as common as Starbucks. But great news. Their products have been given the Leaping Bunny seal of approval! Here’s the (extremely prompt) response I got from them;

“Thank you for contacting Aldi Customer Services regarding our animal testing policy. 

ALDI is committed to animal welfare and it is our policy that all our own-label range of household products, cosmetics and toiletries and their ingredients are not tested on animals. 

We are pleased to confirm that all our household products hold the Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny Logo.

I hope this gives you the confidence that ALDI takes the issue of animal testing seriously.”

Super! So now we can clean our houses with a clear conscience. There isn’t much information on their site about the products mentioned but they can be found in store. Keep an eye out for the Leaping Bunny!


A few readers have contacted me asking about other shop-brand cleaning products. I am still awaiting replies from SuperValu and Tesco. Tesco products such as toiletries and household cleaning products have “Not tested on animals” on them already which is a good sign but the brand themselves are not on any Cruelty Free websites so I am curiously awaiting their response. I anticipate that they can’t be classed as a Cruelty Free brand because their range includes a selection of medicinal products which fall under different laws to cosmetic and household products.

Unfortunately testing on animals for medicine and vaccines isn’t banned in the EU like cosmetic testing is. Testing on Great Apes has been banned, and testing on wild-caught animals (unless the individual study requires it) has also been banned. It is something with the EU are monitoring closely and do wish to call an end to.

EU legislation has implemented the following, which they call “the 3 Rs”;

Replacement – methods which avoid or replace the use of animals.

Reduction – minimising the numbers of animals used – for example by improving the experimental design and statistical analysis used in a study.

Refinement – improving experimental procedures, and other factors affecting animals such as their housing and care, to reduce suffering and improve welfare throughout the animals’ lives. 

It is too difficult for the EU to give a definitive timeline for the phasing out of testing on animals for medicine. More information is available here: 

“We believe that the need to experiment on animals, and the justification for the suffering caused, should be more critically questioned.” (RSPCA)

It’s an interesting read and it’s great to know that animal testing for medicine and vaccines is being monitored closely in the UK at least.

While I don’t like the ethics of it, its a different situation we enter into when it comes down to life and death situations compared to testing on animals for mascara and household cleaners.

Here’s more information about animal testing in medicinal circumstances if you’re interested: 

As soon as Tesco and SuperValu respond I will pop it on my blog and Instagram account. I’m really interested to see what they have to say!

Superdrug. My New Obsession

Affordable, quality and cruelty free and vegan. Superdrugs own brand products tick all the boxes!

Their brand ranges from hand creams, nail polish remover, face wipes, cooling sprays, face masks, coconut oil (amazing for literally everything), to tan and lip balm! Their makeup range is called ‘B’, and their award winning mascara is worth checking out. All of their products have been given the seal of approval from Cruelty Free International (formerly BUAV which is mentioned on their site) and given the use of the Leaping Bunny Symbol on all of their products. Which is super handy (it’s how I realised they were CF in the first place!)

“We love everything beauty, and are proud to say that no animals are tested on in our quest for cosmetics in our Own Brand range! Testing on animals is now banned in the UK and across the EU, but this is not the story throughout the rest of the world. Living cruelty-free has become increasingly viable in recent years, with more and more companies making a stance. Look out for the Leaping Read on our Own Brand products to be assured it has been certified ‘cruelty free’ under the internationally recognised Humane Cosmetics Products Standards.

Find out more about our own vegan-friendly beauty brand, B. below, and discover other cruelty free makeup ranges that are now available online.”

I love when brands are so clear and upfront about their beliefs and policies! If you search ‘Cruelty Free’ on their site it gives you all of their brands that fall under this category- super handy. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ , Superdrug.


Kiko & Dr Hauschka

I had originally planned on discussing Dead Sea Cosmetics too but it was difficult to find confirming evidence online and I’m still awaiting a reply from them. I notice on their website that they do sell in China but hoping this refers to Hong Kong as opposed to mainland China.



Parent Company: None

Available online to ship to Ireland & available in Belfast

Kiko is an Italian brand that was set up back in 1997. It wasn’t hard to find information on Kiko’s website about their stance on animal testing. Their statement is short and brief, but to the point. They adhere to the EU laws on the ban of animal testing but I wouldn’t class them as vegan, however, as they do use beeswax in some of their lip products.

“KIKO does not carry out or order testing on animals, pursuant to the relative European laws.

This guarantee does not only include finished products but also the latest generation raw materials, tested from 2004 onwards. In fact, European legislation for cosmetics has prohibited animal testing since 2004 on finished products, a practice stopped by the cosmetics industry 15 years before the law went into effect. A ban, valid in all EU territories, not only on the sale of final cosmetic formulations which have undergone animal testing but also products containing ingredients tested on animals outside of the European Community came into effect on March 11, 2009.

KIKO is committed to the pursuit of progress in Italian and European cosmetics through research into alternative tests to animal toxicological tests that protect consumer safety.”

You may notice they don’t carry the Leaping Bunny symbol as this symbol is part of a private entity which require a fee each year to be able to keep the logo. They chose to invest this money back into the company instead of the fee. I agree with this but I also feel having the Leaping Bunny, or even a cruelty free statement on products, can help consumers in such a huge way.

In terms of selling in mainland China, Kiko only sell their products in Hong Kong, which is not classed as ‘mainland China’ and therefor no mandatory animal testing is in place here.



Dr Hauschka

Parent Company: None

Available in The Health Stores across Ireland

You don’t judge a book by its cover, but you can tell that Dr Hauschka’s products are made with TLC and attention to detail from seeing their packaging. Dr Hauschka is a natural skincare brand committed to sustainability and healing. They have always been committed to never testing on animals, since their founding in 1967.

“The responsible and sustainable development of our products is something that has been at the core of Dr. Hauschka Cosmetics ever since the beginning, back in 1967. Today we are proud to continue to carry this philosophy forward.

Naturally, this means that no animal tests have ever been carried out either by or on behalf of Dr. Hauschka Cosmetics since our founding in 1967.”

From browsing their website, I was delighted to see their commitment to Fair Trade also, demonstrating their commitment to being a sustainable, environmentally friendly company.

“We also support sustainability through the ecological, socially-responsible partnerships that we have created: for example, we obtain shea butter from an organically certified collection area in Burkina Faso and the precious oil of the Damask roses from countries such as from Afghanistan, where we are working with the World Hunger Organisation to offer around 700 farmers who now use organic methods an alternative to opium cultivation.”

I’ve fallen for this brand. Hint hint… Valentines day is coming up! ❤