Dog charity warns public after rise of unhealthy puppies handed over

A dog charity is experiencing an increase in the number of unwanted puppies and dogs with breeding and medical related issues, exacerbated by increased demand during the pandemic.

The growing desire for ‘designer’ puppies has led to increased production by irresponsible breeders. Birmingham Dogs Home, a Midlands-based rescue centre that cares for over 2,500 dogs every year, is urging people across the UK to thoroughly research the purchase of any potential puppy to avoid future heartbreak and additional strain on charities.

Hayley Gee, Assistant Manager at Birmingham Dogs Home, says: “Over the past few months, we’ve certainly seen more dogs come to us with medical issues, which we have attributed to poor breeding practices. This means that charities like Birmingham Dogs Home are footing the bill, which is putting an ever-increasing strain on our charity.”

Inbreeding to ensure desirable traits has contributed to life-threatening and debilitating inherited conditions in certain breeds. The consequences of dogs with these inherited disabilities mean that owners often can’t afford to treat their expensive conditions; they subsequently have to give up their dogs.

Birmingham Dogs Home has been hard hit by the trend and is now appealing for its new veterinary clinic. The ‘Healing Hearts Appeal’ hopes to raise £100,000 of life-saving cash.

This new development will be instrumental in the charity continuing to be able to treat dogs like Teddie and Spike, whose treatment and care are currently being funded by Birmingham Dogs Home.

Spike’s story

Spike, a 12-week-old Bulldog, was handed into the charity when his owners were unable to afford the life-saving treatment he required. In addition to a grade 3/6 heart murmur, it was suspected Spike had Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) and would need an operation to clear his airways.

The charity’s vet subsequently found Spike was suffering from heart disease and required a valvuloplasty at an approximate cost of £4,000-£5,000. Even after the expensive treatment, Spike’s future is very uncertain.

Teddie’s tale

Bulldog Teddie was just two-months old when he was handed into Birmingham Dogs Home in October 2020. It was clear to the team that he had a severe disability. Teddie’s owners first noticed there was something wrong when the people they got him from didn’t put him on the floor.

On arrival to the charity, he was immediately rushed to the vets for a full examination. His front legs were completely splayed, meaning he was unable to walk or even stand. The vet diagnosed him with swimmer syndrome, or swimmer puppy syndrome, a rare development deformity of new-born dogs.

A consequence of lying on his chest for prolonged periods meant Teddie had a flat thorax and chest, which, in turn, triggered breathing problems. He developed pneumonia and had a (BOAS) operation to assist him with his breathing. This was just to treat the symptoms caused by the syndrome.

Now at six months old, Teddie has undergone numerous operations to improve his health and mobility. He wears splints to aid his walking and needs constant care and physiotherapy as his health continues to improve.

Serious warning

Birmingham Dogs Home Chief Executive, Giles Webber, advises: “Now more than ever, potential puppy owners should be diligent in their choice of breeder or other source of their new puppy. The guidance is very clear on how best to bring a new puppy into your home, and if things seem too good to be true about the availability of a puppy and the purchase process, then it most likely is. We fear that may just be the beginning of many more medically related relinquishments of poorly dogs coming into our centres over the coming months.”

Birmingham Dogs Home’s Head of Fundraising, Fi Harrison, adds: “Our ‘Healing Hearts Appeal’ is so important to help dogs like Spike and Teddie as we raise money for our own veterinary clinic. Our veterinary costs have been increasing year on year, and last year alone we spent over £230,000 on life-saving treatment. By donating to our appeal, our supporters can help us to be sustainable and continue to help all of the homeless dogs that need care for years to come. We do not receive any government funding so this is a really crucial facility for our charity.”

To find out more about Birmingham Dogs Home’s ‘Healing Hearts Appeal’, and to donate and find out about the rescue pups in the charity’s care, visit: www.healinghearts.org.uk