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tv   The Hidden World of Designer...  BBC News  December 23, 2021 2:30am-3:01am GMT

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preliminary results from three scientific studies suggest that the omicron variant may be milder than first feared with patients running less risk of needing hospital treatment. but as the uk records over 100,000 new cases for the first time, there are warnings that the sheer number of infections could still overwhelm health services. a well—known statue commemorating the deaths of students protesting in beijing's tiananmen square has been removed from the university of hong kong. the work known as the pillar of shame was created by danish sculptorjens galschiot, who's likened its removal to the destruction of gravestones. thousands of people have been celebrating in spain after winning a share of the world's richest lottery, el gordo, or �*the fat one�*. the christmas draw hands out prizes from a total fund equivalent to more than $2.7 billion. now on bbc news, as demand
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and prices soarfor dogs, bbc wales investigates the hidden world of designer dog breeding. good boy, griff. you've been such a good boy! so, these are what are known as micro bullies. they've been bred to be really, really small. these were all seized from a breeder. there were reports of unlicensed breeding. hey, griff! that's a boy! meet griff, lined up to become a stud dog by his owner. he's actually got spinal deformity. he's dragging his hind legs, falls over probably every four or five steps.
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the vet report that we've got from the specialist vet said he shouldn't be bred from. the whole purpose of the breed is to try and make them as small and stocky as possible. lots of muscle and bone into a very, very small frame. their legs are splayed out, they're so muscly. it's cruelty breeding, there's no other word for it. griff and the other pups are being looked after at this south wales rescue centre, casualties of a trade in designer dogs. the local authority actually seized them with a view to prosecuting them. when they went in, they could obviously see that they'd had their ears cropped as well. sadly, there is a demand for dogs with their ears mutilated. they actually cut the floppy bit of the ear off. this is what he should
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look like — look — should have lovely, lovely floppy ears like this. they are the ears that he would have had. it's purely an aesthetic to achieve a certain look that some people think is attractive. they go from anything from 3,000 uptoi0,000, 15,000. phenomenal amounts of money. so you could have a litter that's literally worth about £60,000. it's illegal to cut a dog's ears like this in the uk. but at the moment, you can import one with its ears already cropped. tonight, we'll show what a huge demand for dogs has led to. there are laws in place to protect animals, but we found plenty of backyard breeders who are staying one step ahead of the authorities to make some serious cash. griff was owned by this man — christopher mae from cardiff.
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he has a criminal record and a large online following. griff and his other pups were seized and it will be up to a judge to decide if he gets his dogs back. social media is a big marketplace. plenty of legitimate breeders, but also those keen on cropped ears. we found this account with tens of thousands of pounds worth of pups. lots of dogs pictured with cut or cropped ears. it's run by this man. he calls himself �*sons of adam' and posts clips like this. under his brand name, we found images of puppies for sale with their
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ears intact. and then what appears to be the same litter but with their ears cut. so, we get in touch, and he agrees to meet. undercover, we pose as buyers. the deal was if we paid £2,000, we could jointly own the dog with him, and we'd all make money from breeding valuable puppies. and what can he tell us about his dogs�* cropped ears?
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we leave without handing over any money. but adam wasn't the only breeder that we came across. many simply posted pictures of pups and then waited for a response. deals are then done through direct messages, a kind of marketplace, but hidden from public view. and it's one that we have just entered. this account is called �*cardiff�*s finest bulls�*. again, dog after dog with cropped ears. similar extreme features as we saw at the rescue centre earlier. this man, joshua, seems
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to be behind the account. he starts to tell us how he runs his business. the asking price is £13,000. we ask to see the puppy for ourselves. the following day, we're sent to an address in swansea. we meet ricky, one of the so—called puppy nannies.
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when we asked ricky about illegal ear cropping, he gives us some advice. so, what ricky has just revealed is that dogs are having their ears cut by a vet in the uk, then being given a foreign pet passport to make it look like it was done abroad. we said we'd think about it
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and then left. as rickyjust told us, cropping is illegal in the uk. but online, you're struck byjust how many dogs in this country have had the procedure, and how popular it seems to have become. we contact the breeder, joshua harty, again. he agrees to sell us a pup. but what about its ears?
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but how convincing is the fraudulent paperwork that he's offering us? a pup with cropped ears and paperwork to put the authorities off the scent all for 13 grand. but he says he doesn't tell the tax man everything. today, christopher mae,
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griff�*s owner, is due in court, accused of illegal dog breeding and cropping their ears. he didn't speak to us outside, although someone who arrived with him did. it's a public space! don't touch me! i know my rights as well. don't touch my camera... i know my rights. do you know what? i will find out what your address is, mate. 00h, i've recorded that. that's a threat, you see. that wasn't a threat. i'll come around... i'll come around, right, and i'll come and speak to you personally. go on then. you'll find my address, will you? i will pop around to your address, i'll guarantee you, and we'll have a nice little chat. christopher mae, who is a fairly well—established breeder, was producing quite a lot of litters and seemingly had been doing it for some time. sarah smith is in charge of prosecuting illegal breeders. her team investigated
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christopher mae. these are obviously some of the cropped ears that were found at the time, and these had recently been done because they were still in the process of healing as well. actually, obviously it causes distress to the animal. it's not being done legitimately anywhere because it's an illegal practice, so this is being done, you know, behind closed doors, in people's homes or garages. he claimed he'd bought his dogs with their ears already cropped. he never replied for a license, so, therefore, he was never inspected, so officers couldn't check on the environment or the welfare. but after a tip—off, they did find some evidence. we'd found photos of the pups on social media, like, kind of, you know, very young, ears intact, and then subsequent posts, their ears were cropped in a very short space of time.
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it's something we're seeing more and more of. we know, from some of the people that we've already investigated, that they were previously linked to drugs and drug charges. the money that they're obtaining from those sales is acquisition of criminal property. the first breeder we spoke to who called himself adam has now posted another advert for another litter. he wants £13,000.
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he offers us prescription—only medicines, vaccinations. and there's another service.
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next, he says we can video call him to see the pup for ourselves. he tells us what he can arrange to happen to her ears. he's just shown us how she'd be cropped. so, who would carry that out?
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we now have evidence of the lengths that some breeders will go to to make money. i would say his practices are abhorrent. he's ultimately advocating an illegal, painful, unnecessary mutilation. daniela dos santos is the former president of the british veterinary association. what, if any laws, are being breached here? they're breaching the animal welfare act and cropping of ears is an illegal mutilation — it's done for no other reason than, as he said, for cosmetic reasons. it's all for status.
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there is no health benefits to these dogs at all. if we look at vaccines for — for dogs, they are prescription—only medications, so they have to be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon. he's not a licensed seller of these medications and he's not a veterinary surgeon, so that is where the illegal activity is happening. we also asked daniela about the second breeder, joshua harty. .. ..and his associates. this sounds like a horrendous syndicate — multiple people involved at multiple different stages with these dogs. at one point, they said they're moving the puppies at a certain point because they don't need the mother anymore. that's not true. already, everything else aside, this is not a situation that would ever produce well—socialised, happy puppies. what do you make of this breeder and what he's
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suggesting? it's all illegal. it's all completely illegal. the cropping of ears, the false passports, everything about this is a dodgy system. i think this whole situation, however, talks to a more — a wider social issue here. we are harming these dogs purely because we want them to look a certain way. the reason this is happening is because there is a loophole that allows the importation of dogs with cropped ears. and that's just acting as a smokescreen, clearly, for it happening in the uk. the uk government plans to close the loophole and ban the importation of dogs with cropped ears from abroad. it could also ban dogs under the age of six months from coming in as well, cutting off a cheap supply of puppies. but dealers have told us that getting hold of a dodgy pet passport can help cover up their illicit activities. so will any new law be enough? 0ur undercover team do a quick
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search online and find a bully breeder in romania. he's willing to crop the dog's ears and send the pup to wales. when we ask, the breeder, flavian vargas, says he can also provide fraudulent passports. the price is £250. there's even a discount if we buy five or more. it's got all the vaccination stickers, a vet's stamp in all the right places, but otherwise, it's completely blank. dodgy pet passports aren't just useful for covering up ear cropping. they can be used to bring
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in dogs that are legally too young to travel. we've got three puppies here, they're given a passport — sadly the information in the passport is falsified, so they're declared to be older than they actually are, and the journeys they undertake are awful. you know, great lengths, in excess of 2a hours, often no food, very little water, no stops. there were actually four puppies in this group that were seized, and sadly one passed away. so sometimes we do see that. paula is that tougher importation rules will only work if someone actually looks at the animals at the border. currently, there's no requirement to do so. the checks aren't fit for purpose, but the penalties aren't there, either. if you were caught illegally importing a puppy, the maximum sentence you would get is 12
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months imprisonment. compare that to, say, smuggling cigarettes, the maximum sentence up to seven years — and if you were caught smuggling cigarettes you wouldn't get your cigarettes back, but somebody caught illegally importing puppies can potentially pay quarantine fees, collect the puppy, and still make a profit. a few days, later the pet passport we bought from romania arrives. this is what people who cut dogs�* ears in the uk use to hide their crimes. now, we could put the details of any dog we liked in here, to suggest it was imported and not cropped illegally in this country. and if this is how easy it is to get around checks in the system, how effective would any new animal welfare legislation actually be? what would the vet paula boyden make of it? how authentic is it? i don't think anybody at the border — you —
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it would raise concerns. what does it say about the efficacy of the whole passport system? it certainly brings it all into question. and the man who illegally sold us the passport, what does he have to say? hi, mrvargas. hi, flavian vargas, um, i — do you sell american bullies? i've seen your pictures on — on the internet. look, i'm from the bbc in the uk. can you tell us why you sold us a fraudulent pet passport? engaged tone. mr vargas? well, mr vargas clearly doesn't want to answer questions. in cardiff, bully breeder christopher mae is hurrying back into court. but this time he won't be leaving as fast. laughter. he got 16 weeks. it's down. he was sentenced to 16 weeks injailfor breeding dogs without a license and
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animal cruelty offences, including ear cropping. but vanessa from hope rescue suspects that other breeders are already following in mae's footsteps. i've recently identified 30 breeders in the cardiff area, many with ear—cropped dogs. we work with excellent enforcement officers, theyjust don't have the resources to investigate all the cases that have been reported to them. animal welfare is the responsibility of the welsh government. the minister declined to do an interview, but we were told that, in order to tackle illegal dog breeding, the government was funding a three—year project lead by trading standards officers, and it had brought in new regulations and was monitoring developments closely.
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it's people like sarah smith and her team who will be on the front line, enforcing those regulations. i think it's well documented, the cuts that we've experienced over recent years, and i think this year, to date, we've had 400 reports into trading standards across wales about illegal dog breeding. authorities can't deal with that. so, you know, we have got now an established team, that has a wales—wide remit, that's specifically looking at illegal dog breeding, but still, 400 complaints is a significant amount of work. but what about the backyard breeders who told us they could help arrange to have dogs is cut and provide dodgy passports? and ricky from swansea, who gave us tips on illegal cropping.
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we repeatedly tried to contact them, but they've gone silent on us. and then there is adam, full name moheez adam. we've now discovered he has a conviction for the possession of drugs with intent to supply. so when we pay him a visit, what does he have to say about what he'd offered to supply us? mr adam, mr moheez adam? i'm from the bbc. mr adam, can we speak to you about your dogs, please? mradam?
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give me two minutes, i'm on the phone. 0k, will you speak to us? 0k. he's been refusing to say why he offered to help arrange for a dog's ears to be cut. i've never arranged to have it done. you've never arranged to have a dog's ears cropped? cropped — that's correct, yes. there's nothing wrong with dog cropping, it'sjust illegal in this country. if i wanted to keep a pup, or buya pup, and it had ears, i would like to have the ears removed. however, it's not legal in this country. so you would no longer do that, would you? when you keep repeating "you would no longer do it" — i have never done this. arranged for it to be done? i've never arranged for it to be done. would you give somebody, your clients, needles and jabs to inoculate their own dogs? not really. i've never done that. however if had access — um, if i can get it arranged for them from, my vet, then yes, i could administer them, if they wanted, but i wouldn't advise any of my clients to do it. so are you a licensed dog breeder? i am a hobby breeder, not a licensed dog breeder.
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what i am is what you'd call a dog whisperer — i understand dogs very well. i can communicate with dogs. you're a dog whisperer? yes. some might smirk at this, and i can tell you, i can prove you otherwise. thank you guys, you can turn it off now. the authorities now say they'll be looking into our investigation and the evidence we've uncovered. but things are looking up for griff. he's finally found a new home. just in time for christmas.
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hello again, over recent hours the weather has been turning increasingly milder. still an odd patch of frost and some of the deeper valleys in scotland where there is the risk of a few icy surfaces to start the day as well. thursday is fairly unsettled, outbreaks of rain at the heaviest moving across northern ireland, northern england and scotland, not really amounting to much elsewhere across england and wales. a few brighter spells to end the day, very, very mild. temperatures up to 12 or 13 celsius, the mild weather across most of northern england, ireland and wales the far north of england and scotland hanging onto some slightly cold air and then as we go through thursday night and into the early part of friday which is christmas eve, got a band of rain that is going to become slow—moving, kind of fades in situ but some
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over the high ground here and probably some fog developing across parts of england and wales as we head into christmas eve.
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welcome to bbc news. i'm rich preston. our top stories: new studies suggest the 0micron variant, though highly contagious, could be milder, with fewer people needing hospital treatment compared to previous covid variants. but as the uk records over 100,000 new cases for the first time, there are warnings that the sheer number of infections could still overwhelm health services. as covid cases rise in china, more than 13 million people in the city of xi'an are told to stay at home. hong kong's pillar of shame statue commemorating the tiananmen square massacre is dismantled. we hear from the work's danish sculptor. and celebrating a break from pandemic gloom
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in spain as thousands win a share of the world's richest

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