Animal lovers looking to buy a puppy in the run-up to Christmas are being encouraged to do their research and steer clear of suspect breeders.
Two puppies brought from a disreputable online seller could have died without emergency treatment from vet charity PDSA. Now the charity’s vets are warning against buying puppies unless you have chance to see the mother.
Dog lover Donna Egan from Bristol felt pressured into buying eight-week old puppies Pepsi and Tala after the seller turned up at her house.
Donna said: “We saw an advert for puppies in Gumtree and arranges to go to see them. On the way there, the seller called to say they were busy and would bring the puppies to us instead.”
When the seller arrived, he had two puppies and put them straight into Donna’s open car with her children inside.
Donna added: “I was taken aback. My children immediately wanted the pups but I could see that they were in a bad condition. I really didn’t feel comfortable with the situation but decided I couldn’t stand to see the seller take the puppies away. I was worried as I didn’t know what would happen to them, they looked so poorly.”
Donna took both puppies to Bristol PDSA Pet Hospital to get a thorough check-up.
PDSA vet Penny Morgan said: “When the puppies arrived at the Pet Hospital they were in a sorry state. Their breeder clearly hadn’t given them the proper preventative care, like vaccines, worming and flea treatment, or raised them in a healthy environment. They needed to put on weight but had diarrhoea and severe worms.
“Both puppies were riddled with fleas and lice, which had caused scaly patches of skin on their little bodies. It’s quite rare for a dog or cat to have louse infestation. Lice are most common in pets who are young, old or unwell and pets kept in dirty, overcrowded conditions.”
Pepsi and Tala were treated for lice, fleas and worms and went back to their new home the same day. Donna was advised to feed them a bland diet and give them probiotic paste to help treat their diarrhoea and vomiting.
PDSA vets advise that a poor environment as a young puppy can have a knock-on effect for a dog’s whole life. The two puppies are now thriving in their new family despite not having the best start in life.
Donna said: “The puppies are gaining weight and we’ve treated the whole house to get everything free from parasites. Their health is much better. I’m determined to do everything right for them after they had such a poor start in life. They’ve been back to the Pet Hospital for their vaccinations and will be neutered in the near future so they can have the best possible health despite their bad start.
“I would urge anyone thinking about getting a puppy to be careful, so they don’t end up in the same situation as me.”
Vet Penny added: “With more and more pets being advertised for sale online, it’s really important to avoid buying from a puppy farm, or a poor environment. You should always see them at their home, with their mother, before buying. Lots of puppy farm breeders use tricks, whether it’s offering to meet you halfway or telling you the pup’s mum is ‘having a break’ if you can’t see her.
“The best way to help these puppies is to walk away and report the dodgy sellers to the website they’re being advertised on, the RSPCA and the local council.”
For those considering a puppy, Penny gave this advice:
“Puppies are great but remember they are a big commitment. Make sure you’ll be able to look after a dog for their whole life and do your research into their five welfare needs. If you decide that a dog is the best pet for you, consider rehoming a rescue dog, but if that’s not an option then look for a puppy breeder who is happy to use the puppy contract.
“Good breeders will often have a waiting list and want to ask you just as many questions as you ask them to make sure their puppies are going to a good home.”