The Scottish SPCA and council chiefs are under fire over their handling of the Perthshire puppy farm case after letters revealed they were asked to investigate the property 18 months ago.
Multiple sources have told The Courier that both the animal welfare charity and Perth and Kinross Council were notified of the conditions at the Glenalmond site as early as June 2019.
The farm was finally raided by the Scottish SPCA in recent weeks when inspectors discovered more than 60 cats and dogs – including pregnant animals and litters of puppies.
Letters written by local authority chief executive Karen Reid and Scottish SPCA chief executive Kirsteen Campbell show both organisations visited the property on numerous occasions last summer after receiving reports about the condition of the dogs.
The paperwork, shown to The Courier by one of the people who tried to raise the alarm, says both council officers and Scottish SPCA officers were happy with the way the dogs were being kept but notes some animals were currently housed in “temporary shelters”.
Ms Reid claimed in her letter, dated October 8 2019, that “there is no evidence to suggest that a dog breeding licence is currently required”.
However in the same letter the chief executive also states: “(The animal welfare officer) considers the levels of noise from the establishment as typical from a dog breeding environment.”
It confirms the local authority had received two complaints from different people regarding the property and an investigation was being carried out.
It says neglect allegations were “unsubstantiated” – but that officers would continue to visit the property over complaints alleging “animal cruelty, neglect and activities associated with puppy farming”.
The local authority has since said investigations can take a long time to complete.
A council spokesperson said: “Perth and Kinross Council takes animal cruelty or neglect extremely seriously and we thoroughly investigate all allegations regarding the mistreatment of animals we receive.
“Our Animal Welfare officers were involved in a joint investigation with the SSPCA and Police Scotland into allegations of commercial breeding in rural Perthshire that resulted in last month’s raid.”
Scottish SPCA chief Kirsteen Campbell states in her letter, dated September 23 2019, that officers had viewed “several dogs” during a June 2019 visit which were being kept in “an adequate temporary shelter” while a permanent shelter was being built.
During a follow-up visit in July, officers were “comfortable improvements had been made and were reassured the owner was keen to continue to make these”.
Ms Campbell wrote: “We can only act on the evidence we see and gather whilst investigating at the time.
“On every occasion we’ve visited, the owner has been fully cooperative and all advice regarding welfare and living conditions has been followed.”
Pressed on the length of time it had taken to act before the seizures, Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “As this is an ongoing investigation we cannot provide comment at this time.”
One whistleblower said: “I have never been so disgusted with the lack of acknowledgement and intervention from the very authorities which are there to help animals and law abiding citizens live in a safe, clean and peaceful environment.”
The individual claims the Scottish SPCA and council were alerted at least 16 months ago when dogs were being kept in “cages, boxes, boots of cars, vans and in chains”.
A second local said he reported alleged puppy farm 18 months ago when there were “about 30” dogs at the property.