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Breeder's fury at BBC show after 13 dogs die in inferno

By Michelle Smyth

Published 20/04/2015

Forensic officers yesterday at the home in Fermanagh where the dogs died
Forensic officers yesterday at the home in Fermanagh where the dogs died
Scenes from the BBC programme on puppy farms
Scenes from the BBC programme on puppy farms

A breeder who lost 13 dogs in a suspicious fire has blamed misguided animal lovers for their "horrific and painful" death after he faced accusations in a BBC documentary.

David Hamilton said he believed there was a direct link between the fall-out from a BBC documentary and the blaze at his father's home which killed seven dogs and six pups.

Mr Hamilton was forced to defend his dog-breeding business in Clabby, Co Fermanagh, after the BBC Scotland programme, which was filmed secretly on his premises and which aired last Wednesday night.

After a security alert close to the Clabby Road premises on Friday, a fire then broke out in a shed close to his father's home at nearby Drumcor Road the next day.

Police are increasing patrols in the area after the toy Yorkshire terrier dogs and pups belonging to Mr Hamilton's sister were burned to death when the shed they were in at the back of his father's home went on fire at around 8pm on Saturday.

Police investigations were launched yesterday to establish if arson was to blame.

A PSNI spokesman said the blaze was being linked to the earlier incident during which a suspicious object was found near Mr Hamilton's business Furnish Kennels on Friday, but turned out to be nothing untoward.

Mr Hamilton, a third-generation dog breeder, said he was linking the death of the dogs directly to a BBC programme which aired last Wednesday and broadcast "inaccurate and false information" about the dog-breeding business he runs with this brother Jonathan.

Furnish Kennels was featured on BBC Scotland Investigates: The Dog Factory in which a journalist was secretly filmed in Mr Hamilton's kennels at night-time.

The reporter said conditions at the kennels "astounded" her after she alleged she found two large sheds and hundreds of dogs.

"There was row upon row of cages. The scale was unimaginable. Across the yard from the mums I found a row of what looked like old, disused trailers," the journalist claimed.

"It was freezing and there was snow on the ground, yet inside I could hear whimpering.

"Inside, I found the pups, just weeks old. Huddled together without their mums."

Fermanagh District Council said Mr Hamilton's premises, now known as the UK Dog Breeding Academy, complied with legislation.

The breeder said he felt "completely victimised", adding: "I am so shocked and upset the BBC has put highly inaccurate information out there and broadcast our family name and address all over the internet.

"We were on high alert that something might happen at the kennels but we did not expect it to happen at my father's home two miles down the road.

"Unfortunately people will often believe what they see on the television without questioning what they're being told or realising that they are only being shown what the producers, who have their own agenda, want them to see.

"What the programme did not show was the money we have invested in these kennels - the under-floor heating and bio-secure facilities etc.

"The puppies are kept in an impervious insulated separate building in isolation and away from their mothers to protect them from the risk of infection."

Mr Hamilton said the day after the programme aired, four officers from Environmental Health called to the kennels and found everything to be satisfactory.

"All of our dogs are healthy and under the supervision of a nominated veterinary surgeon," he added.

The dog breeder blamed animal lovers acting in retaliation over the accusations made in the programme for the fire.

"There isn't anything logical about people setting fire to this shed in retaliation to what was shown on this programme," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It's hypocritical of people to call themselves animal lovers and then do something like this."

He added: "It wasn't even smoke inhalation that killed the dogs - they were burnt alive and experienced an horrific and painful death."

He said his sister and father had been left devastated by the events.

"My poor sister had to be treated for burns after she went in to rescue some of the dogs," he added.

"She managed to save one bitch and two puppies. However, one was badly hurt and had to be put down.

"My 83-year-old father, who was in the house at the time the shed was set alight, is in complete shock."

A BBC spokesman said last night: "It's deeply regrettable that this has occurred and we believe it is a police matter.

"Our programme raised serious and legitimate questions about the treatment of puppies in various farms throughout the UK."

He added: We stand by the programme."

Chief Inspector Graham Dodds says police will increase patrols in the area and appealed to anyone with information about the fire to contact Enniskillen Police Station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Belfast Telegraph

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