|Puppies face a grim new year
Out's Chris Packham uncovers the misery behind the puppy farming trade.
a number of disreputable dog breeders out there who are in the business
just for the money.
Out team decided the only way to check the true health of puppies being
sold by one such breeder, at Keepers Cottage Stud near Farnham, was to
sent an undercover vet, posing as a buyer, to investigate complaints.
John Hawkridge tells Chris Packham about conditions at the kennels
Hawkridge bought a 13-week-old white German Shepherd bitch for £440.
He then gave her a thorough examination and carried out a series of tests.
are shocking. The puppy turned out to have a gut infection, mange and
an infestation of fleas, ear mites and worms.
is run by John Lowe who also lied to the vet telling him that tests had
been carried out on the puppy's parents to check for serious hereditary
Inside Out has discovered that no such tests were ever done.
Mr Lowe is
well known to Surrey Trading Standards department which has a long list
of complaints from people who have bought puppies from his kennels.
Lowe insists it is his customers that make the pups ill
Many of those puppies have fallen ill within days of being bought, and
some have since died.
from Petworth, West Sussex, will never forget the day he bought a West
Highland white puppy from Mr Lowe as a birthday present for his 12 year
old daughter, Vicky.
The dog fell
ill within two days and had to be put down.
A few days
later the family's eight-year-old German Shepherd, Khan, became ill too
and also had to be put to sleep. Mr Birch's four children were heartbroken.
Vicky wrote a letter to Mr Lowe.
poignant letter of broken dreams
"The 'West Highland' puppy my Dad bought me for my birthday made
my dreams come true. I loved him from the moment I saw him because he
was so cute, sweet, and loveable.
"My dream became sorrow when he became ill... it has broken my heart
to lose him and I want to thank you for breaking my heart. I'm wondering
if you have children would you let their hearts be broken like mine is?"
Mr Lowe did
not reply to Vicky's letter or others written by her father.
is still furious and warns other people not to go near Mr Lowe.
is: "Stay away from him and don't give him the pleasure of taking
your money as that's all he wants is your money; he's not concerned about
the animals. Just stay away from him."
Huge vet bills
have bought from Keepers Cottage Stud feel the same way.
of Woodley, near Reading, bought a female German Shepherd from Mr Lowe
which turned out to have parvo virus - a killer disease.
Her dog survived
but not before she had passed the disease to the family's Golden Labrador,
costing them £2,500 in vet bills.
buyers get little chance to meet the puppies
won a court judgement against Mr Lowe but he has never paid up.
So how does
she feel about Mr Lowe?
him. I really hate him and he shouldn't be allowed to get away with this
any longer. People need to speak up to stop him," she says.
Pearce, of Westbourne, near Emsworth, also suffered after buying a West
Highland white from Mr Lowe.
to buy a dog as a companion following the death of her husband but within
five days the puppy was dead.
told Inside Out: "I cried my eyes out. I literally sobbed and I was
absolutely distraught. No animal deserves what he went through and I honestly
feel he (Mr Lowe) should be closed down; made to cease trading so nobody
else has to go through the anguish we went through."
also won a county court judgment against Mr Lowe who was ordered to pay
her a total of £590.
Mr Lowe has
not paid a penny, but Mrs Pearce says she can not afford to pursue the
Pearce: 'I cried my eyes out'
Mr Lowe is
licensed to breed six different breeds and has 46 bitches. But the BBC
has discovered that Mr Lowe is advertising seven different breeds.
Borough Council, who licence Mr Lowe, admit they have received 30 complaints
from the public this year and Surrey Trading Standards has warned Mr Lowe
not to continue selling puppies in poor condition.
vet, John Hawkridge remains appalled at what he found.
the sort of thing I saw quite frequently 30 years ago and I really thought
these sorts of places no longer existed.
"It really is most extraordinary that you can still, in this day
and age, go to somewhere which is basically a farm; animals kept in farm
conditions on straw and sold to people without any care whatsoever who
they are selling them to."
Mr Lowe did speak to the programme on the phone, and insisted that
his puppies don't have fleas and it's his customers who make the puppies
ill. He claims he'll always buy puppies back, but the BBC has met people
who say that is not true.
The RSPCA gives the following advice:
on seeing the puppy with its mother where it was raised
buy from an unlicensed breeding establishment
unsure, ask to see the breeder's licence
adverts offering lots of different breeds for sale
buy a pup sold straight from a car boot or at an open-air event
like a market
The Kennel Club add:
buy from reputable breeders - contact the Kennel Club for breeder
buy if you feel sorry for it - they can invariably be ill
and leave the breeder and then report the breeder to local authority
should ideally be raised in home - assess the state of house
mother should be on site - ideally the father too