Some years ago, the phrase ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ hit the headlines with a bang. Many people now think twice about gifting a live animal at Christmas, but the issue certainly hasn’t gone away. But, one thing that has changed for sure is how we do things!
Nowadays, it seems that everything is just a click away. Food, taxis, shopping, you name it, you can get it. I’m sure many of us would agree that most of these technological advancements are a good thing, but the trend towards instant gratification, the increasing use of the internet to make purchases, and the seeming disposability of things which we buy today is certainly cause for concern when it comes to puppies.
There’s a dark side to the puppy trade that many people simply aren’t aware of...
We know it’s not just at Christmas that people think about getting, or giving, a puppy and no matter what time of the year, now it’s easier than ever. Choose your favourite breed, search the web, make a call or send an email, and within the very same day you could be the owner of a sweet, super-Instagramable pup. No questions, no home visits, just pay and go. And this is where the problem lies.
There’s a dark side to the puppy trade that many people simply aren’t aware of. Last year we launched our PUPS campaign designed to raise awareness of the hidden perils of buying a puppy from a dodgy dealer. You may remember our Suzy Puppy video, which showed that beyond the adorable exterior of a brand new puppy, the industry, and tragically, the dogs themselves, aren’t always what they seem.
The PUPS acronym stands for all the things you should be thinking about when you’re looking to buy a puppy: Parents (is the mother dog present?); Underage (is the dog the right age to be legally, and safely sold?); Papers (does the dog have papers from vet checks, chipping, vaccinations?); and Sickness (does the dog look healthy and energetic?).
We hear time and time again of the issues with puppy farm pups after they’ve been purchased. Without knowing it, the dog-loving public are often unwittingly propping up this horrible trade. Here’s just a few real life examples, supplied by Shakira Miles RVN BSc, a Veterinary Nurse who sees examples like this each and every day she works and actively campaigns for a ban on third party puppy sales.
Jones* was a six week old Shih Tzu who came in to my clinic very weak from severe diarrhoea. Whilst he was being admitted for hospitalisation, he became significantly worse and suddenly collapsed. Our team carried out emergency treatment and managed to keep him alive. We soon discovered that he had contracted canine parvovirus, a life threatening highly contagious yet preventable disease. He needed around £2,000 worth of veterinary care to ensure his survival. After discussing his case with the owner we soon realised he was from a third party puppy dealer and originally from a puppy farm. He had been purchased via a website, where the owner was led to believe that they had bred him in their home; however, like many other stories we hear, this was not true. The owner took action against the breeder.
Jenny* was a young Pomeranian puppy around five to six-weeks-old who arrived collapsed at my clinic one afternoon. She was non-responsive and in shock. We provided her with emergency care and discovered that her blood glucose was dangerously low. We treated her symptoms, however the question was why was she so unwell? She had diarrhoea and had not been well for the past 48 hours since the owner collected her. From questioning the owner it all made sense, Jenny was from a puppy farm. She was underage and had suffered the consequences. Jenny was purchased from what the owner considered a ‘breeder’, who had met her at a petrol station in the dark! The owner had found the advert from Gumtree. Jenny was put to sleep on humane grounds as her condition was advanced and the prognosis wasn’t good. Another victim of the puppy trade and another devastated owner.
*The dog’s names have been changed.
“For all of us working with these puppies it is extremely frustrating and emotionally draining that they have to suffer for human greed and profit. In my experience cases like Jones and Jenny are unfortunately not at all uncommon. As a consulting nurse one of my main priorities is to establish where the puppy originally came from. The sad fact is that I still frequently hear owners are purchasing puppies in pet shops or from third party dealers online with no mother present at the time.
“My job entails dealing with the aftermath of these purchases – the host of psychological and physiological problems that so many of these dogs are suffering from, or will go on to suffer from, especially behavioural difficulties. Young puppies are so vulnerable and the practice of puppy farming, which is legal currently, is allowing this suffering to continue and for dogs raised in low welfare standards to be openly traded to vulnerable dog-loving members of the public.
“As an animal welfare advocate in the veterinary profession I am appalled and simply ashamed that this is still perfectly legal, with little consequence even if any prosecutions are made. Doing nothing is simply not an option, hence my full support for IFAWs campaign along with Pup Aid and CARIAD’s work to bring an end to the third party sales of puppies.”
If you’re thinking of buying a puppy now or in the future, for you or for a loved one, please consider the long term care that the puppy will need. If you can, think about adopting from your local rescue centre. That way you’ll know that you aren’t propping up a trade that causes pain and suffering for tens of thousands of puppies and their mums each year.