Plan for Scotland’s first industrial puppy farm in Ayrshire met with fierce objections

Plans to create Scotland’s first industrial puppy farm have sparked outrage.

The remote Ayrshire facility would house 40 dogs in a disused stable block, churning out puppies for cash.

Still from footage of puppies huddled together in the Fivemiletown facility

But the plan has already been met with fierce objections – with the Scottish SPCA, Police Scotland and locals all preparing to slate the proposal being considered by East Ayrshire Council.

Last night, John Robins, of Animal Concern Advice Line, said: “There will be plenty of opposition to this.

“Go to any rescue centre and you will see there are more than enough puppies already in Scotland. We don’t need any more.

“Dogs are not animals that should be bred in factory-like settings.”

The proposed pup factory will be sited on a farm near Galston.

The application has been made by Hazel Hamilton who is married to a businessman linked to a massive puppy farm.

Husband Stephen Hamilton, 46, is the brother of David and Jonathan Hamilton who run the UK Dog Breeding Academy, in Fivemiletown, County Tyrone.

It doesn’t sell to the public and is claimed to be the largest licensed dog breeding establishment in the UK.

The Fivemiletown facility previously featured in a hard-hitting BBC documentary about puppy farming.

In the programme, footage from inside the rural kennels showed dozens of young dogs huddled together in disused trailers without their mothers.

The reporter claimed she found hundreds of breeding bitches in battery-farmed and “freezing” conditions at the Irish premises.

The footage was blasted by Sheila Voas, chief veterinary surgeon with the Scottish Government, who said at the time the programme was aired: “It was barbaric. It was a production line. It was using animals as a commodity.”

New Intax Farm (Chris Austin / DC Thomson)
New Intax Farm (Chris Austin / DC Thomson)

The facility’s former vet also made a number of allegations about practices at the HQ.

Mr David Bailey, a former Northern Irish government veterinarian who worked for the Hamiltons for three years, claimed David Hamilton had been reluctant to keep a log of every dog kept at the kennel.

The expert said: “It was like a production facility that you would expect to find in a bad pig-raising plant. Every animal on the premises was given an antibiotic injection every week, then we’d change the antibiotic every month because we could not control the infections.”

But the Hamiltons were furious at the documentary and complained to TV regulators Ofcom.

A solicitor for the family said that they had not broken any laws running their business.

The Hamiltons also complained they had received death threats after the programme aired.

But their complaint of “unwarranted infringement of privacy in connection with the obtaining of material included in the programme” was thrown out by the watchdog earlier this year.

There is no suggestion the planned Ayrshire farm would be run along the same lines as the large farm in Northern Ireland.

Futhermore there is absolutely no suggestion either Stephen or Hazel Hamilton have any track record of cruel behaviour to animals.

However that fact is unlikely to stem objections to the proposal from being made to East Ayrshire Council on animal welfare grounds.

SNP MSP Emma Harper, who is campaigning on the issues of puppy farms, is fearful that animal welfare practices at the Irish kennels could be replicated at the proposed new Scottish mass-breeding centre.

“My concern is the welfare of potentially hundreds of dogs,” she said.

“I don’t think a licence should be granted until a thorough investigation into this proposal is done.

“This family’s operations in Ireland have been implicated in welfare issues.”

A spokeswoman for animal welfare charity the Scottish SPCA confirmed it would be objecting to the plans.

“We will be discussing the current application with the East Ayrshire Council as a matter of urgency,” an inspector told The Sunday Post.

“We are liaising with councils across Scotland in an attempt to ensure the welfare of puppies and breeding bitches involved in the licensed and unlicensed commercial trade.”

Dr Rachel Connor, who signed an objection on behalf of the local community council, said: “Although the community council was unanimous in its opinion that there should not be a puppy farm, it’s not a planning situation.

“Nobody was in favour but we had to think about it in other ways like access and traffic in our objection.”

May Anderson, formerly of Waterside Action Group, is backing the Scottish SPCA.

She said: “Mr Hamilton put the application in his wife’s maiden name to ask for planning permission to change a barn to a building for rearing dogs. I think it’s a matter for the Scottish SPCA.”

A spokeswoman for East Ayrshire Council said: “We can confirm we have received an application for a dog breeding licence.”

She added it states a maximum of 40 breeding dogs would be kept on the site.

The plans were lodged with the council last month and will be considered at an upcoming planning meeting.

A council spokeswoman told The Sunday Post that objections to the plan are expected – including from Police Scotland.

However, she declined to reveal on what grounds police chiefs were expected to object.

Police Scotland said it couldn’t comment either. A spokeswoman said only: “We have not currently put in any objections.”

A Sunday Post reporter tried to contact Stephen and Hazel Hamilton at their farm in rural Ayrshire.

However, they refused to comment when approached on Friday evening.

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