'IT'S A DOG'S LIFE...'
|Puppy farm puppies often suffer with
To most, they're man's best friend
and a life long companion, but for some disreputable traders, puppies
are simply a commodity to be cheaply and cruelly farmed and sold.
Inside Out East goes undercover to expose one Essex
puppy trader who has been the subject of complaints for over 10 years.
Dogs, like any pet, can be a costly affair. A pedigree
dog can cost from £200 upwards, and that's before the vaccinations
and vet's bills.
But when a family pet becomes ill, it is not simply a
monetary cost, it can be an emotional cost too.
"We got him on the Saturday, by the Monday he was
in the vets," describes Lisa Burton.
puppies are bought in ill health, some even die|
"We were phoned by the vet to say he's not going
to make it... then we got the call to say that he died."
Like Lisa, Jan Lewis and Ellen Christopoulous encountered
similar problems with their new puppies, but that's not all these women
have in common.
All three dogs were originally bought as puppies from
Loretta Bastin of Dobe Farm Kennels - a puppy trader who over the years
has invited an endless stream of complaints.
The RSPCA believes Ms Bastin receives her dogs from "puppy
farms" in Ireland where licenses are not required to breed or sell
RSPCA officer Alastair Keen has recently raided such farms.
"We found them living in their excreta and urine...
I couldn't enter without feeling physically sick," describes Alastair.
Dogs bred in these conditions often suffer with chronic
health and behavioural problems and are rarely the pedigrees they are
sold to be.
"In terms of behaviour... they get off to a very
very bad start and it just goes downhill from then on," says Alastair.
Still in business
Lynch from Trading Standards has been involved in Ms Bastin's investigation|
Complaints ranging from fake pedigrees to bogus vaccination
certificates drew the attention of both Trading Standards and the RSPCA.
"We've been dealing with Ms Bastin for nearly 15
years," explains Steve Lynch of Essex Trading Standards.
"We visited her three to four years ago... we've
been looking at her closely for a long time," agrees RSPCA officer
Yet 15 years on, Ms Bastin is still in business. Inside
Out East goes undercover to find out why.
How much is that doggy?
Under the pretence of buying a puppy as a present, our
Inside Out undercover team takes a hidden camera into Ms Bastin's portakabin,
where three puppies are presented to choose from.
Our team are told that the puppies are commercially bred.
They claim the puppies are pedigree, but not Kennel Club registered.
After selecting a Yorkshire Terrier, the puppy is promptly
saturated with flea spray. Our reporter is then handed a bag of adult
dog food, six months free insurance with Petplan and a word processed
pedigree certificate, without the breeder's address.
The puppy is taken straight to vet David Taylor for a
thorough examination which reveals that she is full of fleas. The puppy
has blocked eye ducts and may not even be a pure Yorkshire Terrier.
puppy has fleas and worms and according to the vet, will be difficult
Like Inside Out, David is sceptical of the word processed
pedigree certificate and the vaccination record has no address for the
vet who performed them.
The full written report reveals an eight inch Toxocara
round worm confirming that the puppy was never fully wormed.
A phone call to insurers Petplan, reveals the policy to
be for breeders only and therefore invalid.
A sick puppy without a valid insurance plan can be a great
expense as Ellen Christopoulous discovered.
"I bought the dog for £275 - the vet's fees
came to £1,000 of which I didn't get anything back."
Wanting answers to the questions raised by the vet, Inside
Out gets back in touch with Ms Bastin who assures us that her breeder
in Southern Ireland will be in touch.
The breeder fails to get in contact.
Bastin refused to answer any questions posed by Inside Out|
After various investigations, Trading Standards succeeded
in taking Ms Bastin to court in July 2004.
In a Landmark case, she was banned from selling substandard
goods and faces a prison sentence if she breaks her court order, but the
courts were powerless to revoke her pet-shop license.
"I don't think it goes anywhere near far enough,"
says Lisa "It seems
like she just got a slap on the wrist."
Upon leaving court, Ms Bastin declined an interview.
It seems at present that the law is powerless to prevent
this cruel trade and responsibility falls solely into the hands of the
"People buy these puppies because they feel sorry
for them," explains vet David Taylor.
"But that's the worst thing you can do because there'll
be more produced to fill the gap.
"Walk away," he insisits.
here for more information about buying a new puppy: what questions
to ask, what signs to look for and how to avoid puppy farm traders.