To stop the cruel over breeding of pups & review the lack of control of internet advertising
Until recently I was blissfully unaware of a culture known as 'puppy farming' Clearly I lead a sheltered life and was living with the hope that these sort of practices didn’t go on.
Myself along with my Husband and my young family of 4 children decided to extend our family and were wanting to offer a loving home to a puppy. We settled on the Shih tzu breed due to friends having them and recommending them to us with them having wonderful, playful, loving temperaments. We set about looking through adverts (online) and came across an advert in the local area.
We visited the pups advertised and from the word go alarm bells were ringing. The woman who placed the advert then said she didnt have the pups and that they were now with her mother and we had to ring another number. When we arrived the woman was living above a pub which we found strange. The woman was cold towards the pups and clearly wasn’t interested in were he was going and what sort of background we had, if we had a garden, had we had a dog previously etc. Questions that I expected to be asked. At one point the 'breeder' even suggested we took 2 of them!
The pups seemed very small, were dirty and quite honestly they stunk. Still, we immediately fell in love with him, and we decided to take him there and then, at least we could take him home, clean him up and love and care for him. We were shocked at his size but she assured us that was normal.
What happened over the next 48hrs will haunt us for years to come, if not a life time. The pup who we then named Zac constantly slept, when he was awake he couldn’t walk far without crying to be picked up. He struggled to feed, he spent most of his time feeding licking the food and the bowl, like he wasn't sure what to do with it, he would also suckle my knuckles like a baby.
On the 2nd day of him being in our care he became unsteady on his feet and could barely keep up his own body, he cried in his sleep and then proceeded to wake and vomit dirty brown liquid repeatedly. This went on through the late hours of the night, he finally settled and slept and woke the next morning and the vomiting started again. We immediately at this point sought out medical attention for him.
The vets took Zac in under their care due to his condition. His condition throughout the day deteriorated and he was placed on a drip to try and rehydrate him. That afternoon we received a call saying we needed to go down and have a serious discussion about putting him to sleep as his condition was so bleak, a recovery was quite frankly going to be a miracle.
When we arrived to see him and discuss his options with his vet looking after him we woke and was violently sick, bringing up blood, and what looked like parts of what was left of his stomach. At this point through the tears I had to give permission for the vet to put him to sleep to stop his suffering. The last vision I have of this beautiful little pup was of him vomiting his insides, even typing this memory brings tears to my eyes.
This experience was heartbreaking enough, but myself and my husband then had the task of telling 4 small children that the puppy they had taken into their hearts and loved and cared for had died. Having to listen to 4 children cry themselves to sleep was horrific and as a parent I felt like I had exposed my children to this heartbreak.
What happened over the coming weeks with regards to the 'breeder' has been an absolute eye opener and to be honest sickening.
The woman claiming to of been selling strong, loving pedigree pups from a loving home turned into an evil, cold hearted excuse for a human being, and that is being polite. She refused to return calls, messages, emails, screamed and shouted at trading standards and even told a trading standards officer to never ring her again. She blamed my children for the pups death, she lied about having a daughter (who was also involved in the breeding of the pups) and then claimed she had no idea there was multiple adverts all over the internet of her breeding previous litters and advertising them. The longer this went on the more evidence I uncovered and it can to light that this woman had been breeding and selling pups on a regular basis. This woman also had on online facebook page named ********** designer dogs selling ridiculous outfits for the dogs.
I then received a report from the vets practice who had taken care of Zac. It was brought to light that Zac was only approx 4-5 weeks old when he died. His teeth were barely erupted and he weighted 360g. This angered and sickened us deeply and encouraged us to take further action. We were told that he was much older than that by this woman and that he was fully weened. The fact that his teeth weren’t even erupted leads us to question how could he be fully weened if he didn’t have the teeth to eat solid food with.
As far as we were concerned Zac had been taken away from his mother at such an early age that he didn’t stand a chance to be allowed to grow into a healthy happy dog. What made us practically sick at this point was that Zac was one of the biggest pups that we viewed from the litter!
The woman selling these pups is still yet to respond to me and take responsibility for her greedy, money orientated actions.
However, what I have also discovered is that any idiot can breed dogs and not have to be accountable unless they breed more than 5 litters a year.
Basically 5 litters a year, most litters have approx 5 pups and are sold at roughly £400 each, thats £10,000 a year revenue, but they are not required to apply for a £50 dog breeding license. A License that would offer the pups more protection with regards to conditions and ensure that procedures are followed to ensure the pups are not taken away from their mothers to early. A license giving the council more powers to stop these 'breeders' exploiting the dogs and protecting the pups.
The animal welfare officer could only find proof that this woman, who I have come to now know as 'Cruella' had 'only' breed 4 litters this year so could therefore not take any action against her on this occassion. This is what has angrered me to start this petition.
I feel that this needs serious reconsideration and the laws tightening on this matter.
We cant bring Zac back and make what happened right, our only comfort is that we know we loved, cared for and got him the medical attention he needed and made his last few hours as comfortable as possible, regardless of the cost, we felt it was the least we could of done for him.
We learnt a terrible, harsh lesson and wish we hadn’t been so naïve. We had never bought a pup before and we bought with our hearts, not our heads, which were shouting something is not right here!
As well as the breeding regulations needing serious overhauls I also believe you shouldn’t be able to sell pups over the internet without a breeding license. The fake pedigree papers were were given with Zac weren’t worth the paper they were written on. This woman had adverts on sites ranging from gumtree, ad trader to pet sites and there is no control over them at present.
I would like to urge the Government to review the current Laws governing animal welfare to include animals for sale on trading internet sites. Currently live animals can be advertised for sale on these internet sites and there are no laws, few rules, checks or protection for the animals.
I complained to the site which advertised Zac and although they replied there was nothing they could do as they had no powers. I then asked for them to close down this womans account, which they did.
I really hope no other family has to go through what we did, but sadly this wont be the case. We are so traumatised by what happened and the aftermath that I don’t think we could ever look at getting another pup, which is a shame as we could of offered him a lovely family home. My children showed him nothing but love and affection and quite frankly showed him more respect than the breeder did in 3 days he was in our care.
If I can say one thing to anyone looking into buying a pup it would be to make sure that the breeder is registered and do as much research first as you can. My only wish is we had done that and saved us all the heartache.
Since writing this petition I have also had my eyes opened to the number of unwanted Dogs in shelters and in need of loving homes. These numbers have been drastically increased because of these backyard breeders. Something needs to give, and soon!
Thank you for taking the time to read Zac's story and please sign his petition
We are pleased to announce we have taken the decision to adopt a lovely dog called Bud from Dogs Trust Darlington. He has now been with us a few days and is settling in lovely. He is from the dogs trust and we couldnt ask for a better new family member.
We will never forget Zac and the only good thing from his short life is that his voice was heard and hopefully will help getting the plight of these dogs/pups just like him heard.
Zac's story has also been featured in Dogs Today Magazine along with other cases in an article about online pet sales.