RSPCA Inspector Jason Bowles, of the charity’s Colne group, will make a TV appearance on Channel 5’s “The Dog Rescuers”, presented by Alan Davies on Tuesday.
In the episode, Jason rescues Border Collie Ben from a puppy farm in Bury, in a joint raid by the RSPCA and Greater Manchester Police, seizing 136 dogs due to concerns for their safety.
Many were found in pain, bereft of an adequate water supply and suffering from untreated medical conditions, including a Malamute with a gastro-intestinal infection. Discovered hidden away in a bed of straw was a chocolate Labrador that had died from organ failure after a womb infection led to septicaemia.
Despite their licence expiring 20 months before, the breeders continued to sell 400 to 500 dogs a year on a site previously used as a dairy farm.
Jason said: “Customers were allowed to see the blocks holding the puppies, which looked reasonably clean and nice. But the building where the adult dogs were concealed from view was like a warehouse, full of barred cages around 6ft high. Each unit held one or two dogs and the smell and noise were horrendous. A dead puppy was even found heaped on straw, ready to be burned”.
“There are many backstreet breeders but I hadn’t seen an operation on this scale before. Dogs are often brought to the UK in large numbers from Eastern Europe and distributed around in the back of transit vans. Nationally and across the continent, there are bigger farms, some holding thousands of dogs, and the conditions they’re kept in are often substandard and hidden away. People often buy with their hearts and not their minds: they see a cute puppy but not the conditions the adult dogs are kept in”.
Prospective owners, he advices, should always do their homework: “See if other customers have bought from the seller and ask if they’re happy. Go on the Internet and check if the breeder has a history of complaints. If you’re uncertain, never buy from them”.
“You should also ask to see both parents of the puppy for an indication of his or her health as a result of living in such conditions. You could end up paying thousands more in veterinary bills if you buy one cheap on the internet. We’ve seen many cases of a puppy dying as a result of their upbringing: they’re used to the environment of a farm or shed, so when taken to a warm, safe home, their bodies relax and any illnesses they’ve developed, as a result of their previous conditions, will begin to show”.
He always recommends adopting from a rescue centre: “All our dogs have been assessed, checked by the vets and vaccinated. If you go for an older dog, you can see what kind of behaviour they already display. We also always try to match them to the right owner”.
“Dogs from puppy farms are not always socialised with people or other dogs, so the transition can be stressful. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to seek help from professionals - vets, the RSPCA, behaviouralists - and take your puppy to socialising classes. After they’ve been vaccinated, introduce them to as many different environments at as young an age as possible”.
The episode will air from 8 - 9pm.
For further advice on animal care, visit www.rspca.org.uk