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Puppy traffickers still causing chaos
No breed safe from puppy farmers, warns RSPCA



The RSPCA has again warned of the dangers of puppy trafficking and warning that buying puppies from internet sites and newspaper ads could lead to heartbreak.

The animal welfare charity said trafficked puppies risked having illnesses or behavioural problems making them unsuitable pets, and said owners needed to know where their dog came from. In a test it conducted, out of six puppies it purchased, two were found to have potentially fatal illnesses. A King Charles spaniel puppy, died after two weeks.

The RSPCA claims that 73 percent of vets were now concerned about the trade in puppies while it had received more than 700 calls in 2007 about puppies that had become ill after being purchased or were not as described in adverts.

Mark Evans, RSPCA Chief Veterinary Adviser, said some dogs were used as "breeding machines", producing litter after litter which were then passed on to unscrupulous traders or sold to unsuspecting customers. ‘The RSPCA believes that many are likely to have been exposed to disease and may become seriously ill, or even die, within days or weeks of entering their new home,’ he said.

About 1,000 puppies are imported from Ireland to Wales every week before being sold on, the RSPCA said. However, just two percent of owners believed their pet was from Ireland.
Evans said prospective owners needed to do their homework before buying a puppy, and advised them to go to rescue centres or respected breeders. ‘Puppy trafficking is a despicable, profit-driven business. We want the dog-loving public to destroy the puppy trafficker's market.’

Very ill

Nicky Heales from Hampshire has backed the latest campaign after her Labrador, Murphy, suffered serious health problems when he was young - probably as a result of coming from a puppy farm. Mrs Heales, who also has three other dogs, bought Murphy from a man in Wales after seeing an advert on the internet.

‘I saw the advert and then rang up about getting a puppy. I could hear lots of dogs in the background so I just presumed it was genuine and the puppies were with their parents,’ she explained.

However, once Mrs Heales got the puppy home, she realised something wasn't quite right after the eight-week-old began continuously scratching and coughing. After consulting a vet, she soon discovered that Murphy had mange, which he subsequently passed on to her other dogs. He also became very ill with a cough. She estimates she has spent more than £500 on vets' bills to get Murphy back to full health.

Murphy, now 18 months old, has fully recovered and is enjoying his life with the Heales family. But Mrs Heales said she feels guilty for being part of this trade. ‘If I get another dog, it will definitely be from a rescue centre,’ she said. ‘I feel terrible for being so stupid and not checking everything, but, as soon as we saw him, we fell in love with him and sadly that's the case for most people.

No regulations

AlfieGarry Green and his partner Stacey Smithson, recently paid just over £500 for their Cocker spaniel, Alfie. They were told by the owner that he was healthy and had been vaccinated.
Less than 24 hours later, he was on the vet's treatment table. Garry said: "He couldn't breathe properly, that's how bad it got. We were told both his lungs were filled with a green puss which was caused by distress from the surroundings he'd been in."

Three and a half weeks later Alfie died. They couple had spent nearly £1,500 in vet bills. ‘Everything was wrong - his eyes, lungs, kidneys and he had a heart murmur. He was such a sick dog. Alfie's certificate shows that he was an Irish import. There are no regulations concerning the breeding of dogs there. There is no limit on the amount of litters bitches can have for commercial purposes. Garry said: "He could have been on a puppy farm and then shoved in a box on a boat.’

Cataracts

Shirley Tyzack-Smith, from Dover, used the Kennel Club website when she wanted to get another Golden Retriever as companion for her dog, Rosie. She paid £400 for Mollie, despite having reservations as the puppies were kept in a box in the porch and the breeder did not have much paperwork. “It was only after we had been once that I started to have a few question marks, but by that time I had fallen in love with Mollie,” said Shirley.

However, not long after she had got Mollie home the puppy developed several problems, including crystals in her urine and gland infections. Before she was two, Mollie developed cararacts in both eyes. Even when they were removed, she still had to go back to the vet to get rid of a growth on one of the cataract removals.

“I sometimes feel like I live at the vets these days,” said Shirley. “It would have cost about £8,000 for everything so far, but luckily Mollie is insured. If I was to give anyone thinking about getting a puppy any advise it would be to do their research. She added: “Looking at it now I feel the seller was probably running a puppy farm, but I just wanted to make sure that Mollie didn’t end up being used time and time again to produce her own litters.

“I sometimes worry about what the future holds for her but she’s happy and I was just glad I could give her a home and some love.”

OUR DOGS contacted the Kennel Club who have told us that they will be looking into the matter urgently."

Ken McKie on behalf of WAG, told OUR DOGS: “This has been a long time coming and we know that this will not be a short term fix. However, we also feel that it needs more than just the RSPCA to take this forward. There is a clear need for cross border involvement with the SSPCA, the USPCA and the ISPCA. This is especially needed as a trafficking crosses many boundaries with ports in the West of Scotland being one of the many major routes in the movement of puppies.
Moreover there is a need for a multi agency initiative with the inclusion of Inland Revenue, VAT, Benefits Agency and the Police. Only with this kind of unilateral action will we be effective. We have raised the issues of the Proceeds of Crime Act in our campaign but yet those involved still enjoy their ill-gotten gains.

We would urge anyone with any information to immediately contact the RSPCA. This can be done anonymously but if people are still reluctant they can contact WAG and we will pass the information on.

Maybe at last we are seeing the beginnings of the end of the horrific conditions endured by these animals in the trade.”