Nearly three years ago my partner and I walked past a Pets Paradise store and decided on the spot that we would buy two puppies. Impulsive. At the time we knew nothing about puppy factories -hadn't even entertained the thought that dogs could be factory farmed let alone that pet shops could possibly play a role in the facilitation of these farms...
Thirty minutes later we were back at home with two puppies, signed paperwork and enough toys and bedding to entertain these two dogs for a lifetime! Unfortunately we had no idea that our spur-of-the-moment emotional purchase would be one of the worst decisions we ever made, and also a sad learning curve for us on the reality of puppy farms.
Both our mixed-breed Labradors were sold to us at apparently 10 weeks of age. Confirmation from our vet told us they were in fact more around the 5 week mark, hadn't been weaned correctly, were full of worms and had an infection that might not see them last till the end of the week. Our vet asked us where we bought our boys from and after hearing we plucked them from a window of a pet store, slowly began to educate us on the profitable industry that sees so many puppies churned out to the masses at the expense of the pups' health, their parents' living conditions, and the ignorance of the public -my partner and I included.
Edward (the black puppy in the photo) and Leonard (the brindle) managed to survive the week, but their health never fully regained. Both had stunted growth, with Edward's bones not developing properly and requiring an elbow operation at 14 months. Leonard unfortunately developed a cancerous tumour in his chest which eventually spread to his lungs. Leonard was just shy of two years of age when he passed away of a cardiac arrest, his heart working overtime to try and keep beating against the cancer that had consumed it, yet in the end not strong enough despite the best hospital care.
My partner and I had many conversations with our vet and the hospital vets about why our dogs had such a rough start to life (health-wise), and why Leonard developed (or was born) with a cancer that grew so rapidly without any symptoms till his last days? The conclusion from the vets was simply that it was the reality of what they see happening more and more frequently. The reality of purchasing puppies from pet stores that are 'stocked' with puppies from puppy farms.
I mentioned that it was one of the worst decisions we ever made, but that's not entirely true. We have a beautiful boy Edward that's still with us and we had a wonderful two years with Leonard that gave us many happy memories. Also, a couple of months after Leonard passed away we ended up adopting (from a shelter) another little boy who now has a forever-home with us after 10 months of living in a shelter. So not all was a bad decision!
Next weekend there will be a local rally for Oscar's Law that my partner and I will be attending. Oscar's Law calls for:
- An end to puppy factories;
- Councils to properly police standards in breeders around the country;
- Stopping the sale of factory-bred puppies in pet shops, classified ads and online.
I hope that with time and awareness more people will become educated about the right way to bring a dog into the family, and help get behind the Oscar's Law campaign to put an end once and for all to factory-farmed puppies.