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Právo: Kitten mills operate in ČR besides infamous dog mills

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Prague, Oct 18 (CTK) – Puppy mills, large-scale dog breeding facilities aimed to generate the quickest possible profit at the cost of animal maltreatment, have become infamous in the Czech Republic, but people are less aware of kitten mills mushrooming in the country as well, daily Pravo wrote on Wednesday.

Experts estimate the number of the illegal facilities in which fraudsters who present themselves as pet breeders keep dogs or cats in horrible conditions for the sole purpose of their reproduction and sale at up to thousands, the paper writes.

“Compared with dog mills, kitten mills are less visible because a breeder can keep cats in a flat without the neighbours having a clue about their presence. However, if you look at advertisement servers, you will see dozens and hundreds of adverts offering cats without a certificate of origin, which may potentially come from a puppy mill, even though their photos look nice at first sight,” Nikol Schneiderova, from Pet Heroes charity organisation, is quoted as saying.

She said that sphynx, the “furless cat,” is the currently most popular breed whose price climbs up to 10,000 crowns apiece, and the activists uncover many of them during their interventions in kitten mills.

“Previously, the British shorthairs and Persian cats were popular. The demand has been changing, and the mills’ operators have been changing their offer accordingly. We are afraid that they will focus on the Maine coons now,” Schneiderova said.

Adela Kroupova, who promotes cat breeding on social networks, has told Pravo that the Czech Republic is an infamous big power in terms of illegal pet mills.

“This is because Czechs are skilled breeders and there is a strong tradition of keeping pets at home, Kroupova said.

Unfortunately, the mills’ operators are no breeders but fraudsters. Many of them sell cats abroad for prices many times higher than at home, Kroupova said.

Cats and dogs worth millions of crowns are exported abroad every year. According to the European statistics from 2014, the police annually register 24,000 attempts to export a pet without the necessary permit, mostly from the Czech Republic and Hungary, Pravo writes.

The mills operate at variance with law. “Not only the cats live there in cages and their own excrements, but they also suffer from maltreatment by breeding, which rests in the multiple reproduction of the genetic and health defects of the [parent] animals that often are not designated for breeding at all,” Kroupova said.

“It is far from easy to breed a healthy specimen of the Persian cat, for example. In addition, the fraudsters have cat brothers mate with their sisters, which makes most of the cats relatives of each other,” she said.

The buyers of such cats face the risk of their new expensive pet dying in several months.

Kroupova recommends that potential customers should insist on breeders proving that their breeding facility is duly registered and showing the cats’ living conditions to them.

Czech legislation is toothless in face of the illegal mills. The veterinary inspection (SVS) closes most cases saying that it did not uncover animal maltreatment, Kroupova said.

SVS spokesman Petr Vorlicek said the problem mainly rests in that the term “animal mill” does not appear in Czech legislation.

He said some fraudsters seem to be prepared for the inspectors’ visit. The SVS repeatedly checked suspected puppy mills in the surrounding of Prague, on which journalists reported, but the checks uncovered nothing suspicious.

“The operators probably knew that something was planned,” Vorlicek said, adding that, in general, people should not buy animals via e-mail.

“Until the demand exists, the animal mills market will keep afloat,” he told Pravo.

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