Be Puppy Aware

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Heartbroken Londoner urges puppy owners to 'look out for warning signs' after new dog had to be put down

Naomi Ackerman

19 hours ago August 2020


The Kennel Club / Amy Livings

A Londoner has warned hopeful puppy owners to "look out for warning signs" after she and her partner fell in love with their new puppy only to see him suffer horrific pain and be put down within weeks.

Amy Livings, 23, from Sutton, “instantly fell in love” with the cockapoo she and her partner picked up from a breeder in July. The couple named their white and tan pup Spencer.

When they first met Spencer, they were not asked any questions by the breeder, and were told they could not go inside their house due to coronavirus precautions and the seller’s son having asthma.

The couple only sensed alarm bells after they were told the “breeder” could not give them updates on Spencer’s progress before they came to collect him.

They were also disconcerted when they were asked to collect the puppy earlier than expected, and he was just handed over at the end of the seller’s street without any vaccination records or advice on care.

But Spencer seemed happy and healthy, and the couple took him home.

Then, within days, Spencer began to deteriorate rapidly. He was constantly being sick, and was at one point so weak that he fell into his water bowl and could not move.


The Kennel Club has launched a campaign urging puppy buyers to be vigilant against rogue breeders (James Robinson)

Spencer had not been microchipped or vaccinated by the breeder, and was diagnosed by the couple’s vet with the intestinal infection parvovirus - a disease often identified in unvaccinated puppies under six months old.

Despite going through emergency surgery, which involved having a feeding tube inserted and his stomach pumped, Spencer had a horrific case of worms and developed a serious problem with his intestine.

After a 10-day stay in veterinary care, which racked up huge sums not covered by the couples’ insurance, he had to be put to sleep.

The couple were advised that the best thing for Spencer would be to have him put down, leaving them heartbroken.

Ms Livings said she is sharing her story as part of organisation The Kennel Club’s #BePuppywise campaign, launched this week after it emerged that around 39 per cent of new dog owners in the capital who purchased a puppy during lockdown admit they think their new dog could have come from a puppy farm.

Ms Livings said: “After 10 days of specialist care, eventually Spencer gradually got worse and his little body was starting to give up.

"He couldn't keep his blood pressure at a normal rate nor his temperature.

“We did everything we could to give him the best care, but he couldn’t fight anymore. On Wednesday 29th July, we made the heart-breaking decision and consented to having Spencer put to sleep, so he could rest peacefully.

“By sharing our story, and the warning signs we missed at the time as part of the #BePuppywise campaign, we hope to make sure others don’t have to go through the heart-breaking experience that we went through with Spencer.

"It’s awful that opportunistic, rogue breeders are hiding behind a screen, causing heartache and making a profit by selling poorly puppies who are only going to suffer.”

She added: “When we collected Spencer, we were given absolutely nothing. Just him, handed over to us, and that was it.

"As he came with no vaccination or microchipping record either, we had no information about him at all.

“Looking back on it now, it was all extremely strange and we should never have gone through with it - however, excitement got the better of us.”

Bill Lambert, head of health and welfare at The Kennel Club, told the Standard: “Cruel puppy farmers sell and trade puppies with all manner of health and behavioural problems, disguising horrific breeding conditions and duping unsuspecting people who don’t know the true background of the pups and who pay the price in veterinary bills and heartache, as they watch their beloved pet suffer.

“These unscrupulous and profit-driven traders give these dogs the worse imaginable start in life.

"Puppies are kept in poor conditions, with no concern for their health or welfare, leading to heart-breaking long-term health and behavioural problems and sometimes even premature death.

"They won’t be immunised or wormed and often are taken away from their mother far too early – really their only concern is making money. Dogs used by these people too are forced to breed litter after litter, receiving little human contact and are tossed out once they can no longer provide puppies.

“This cruel trade will only keep escalating if potential owners aren’t aware of the red flags. Please be puppywise. Do your research and help to put a stop to this horrific treatment of dogs and puppies.”

The Kennel Club, which is dedicated to protecting the welfare of dogs, also found 53 per cent of London respondents admitted they did not see their puppy’s breeding environment - either in real life or via video call - before transferring money to the seller.

This compares to 42 per cent nationally, according to the findings, based on a Censuswide-conducted survey of 2,622 dog owners.

The poll also revealed that 85 per cent of new London pup owners were not asked any questions by the breeder they bought from about their suitability as owners - a “red flag”, according to The Kennel Club - and 38 per cent paid money to a seller before setting eyes on their new pet.

The findings come despite a new law attempting to crack down on puppy farms and rogue sellers coming into force earlier this year.

Under Lucy's Law, from April 2020 all third-party sales of puppies six months or younger are banned. The law means that in practice every new puppy now has to be sold by the breeder, from the place they were born, or by a reputable charity.

Nearly half of new London owners also admitted they had not planned how to care for their dogs if they have to go back to the office.

But the survey did find the vast majority of buyers were happy they invested in a dog, with 62 per cent of London respondents saying their pet was the “best thing about lockdown”