Puppies bought from pet shops are falling ill with canine parvovirus, with one in five contracting the life-threatening disease within six months, according to new research.
Because they are often bred in unsanitary puppy farms, puppies from pet shops are four times more likely to be affected by the virus, the Kennel Club dog organisation has revealed.
The Kennel Club veterinary advisor Marc Abraham said: “Parvovirus is a horrible disease that is frequently contracted by pups from puppy farms because of the filthy conditions that they are kept in.”
Abraham is also the founder of Pup Aid, a campaign that calls for banning the sale of puppies and kittens in pet shops, and which has secured a debate in Parliament next week. Ricky Gervais is among their supporters.
“Puppy farmers will not want you to see the pup’s mum, who will probably be unhealthy and over-bred, or see the pup’s environment and will go to great lengths of keep you away,” he said.
The debate in Parliament will be held on September 4, following the accumulation of 110,000 signatures backing the proposed ban – the second largest animal welfare petition ever, according to the Kennel Club.
Parovirus attacks the animal’s immune system, and causes vomiting and diarrhea. It can cost up to £2,000 to treat, the Kennel Club said.
In its survey of over 2,000 dog owners, the organisation found that 16 per cent of people bought their pup from a pet shop, and a further 8 per cent buy directly from newspaper or internet advertisements, with no contact with the breeder or the puppy before buying. These statistics suggest that one in four buyers use outlets that are likewise used by puppy farmers.
According to the survey, more than half of dog-owners do not see their puppy’s breeding environment, and 31 per cent never meet its mother.
Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko said: "Puppy farming is a horrific industry that can only be halted if puppy buyers get wise to where puppy farmers sell their pups and the kind of corners they will cut.
"We urge people to do their research before they buy a puppy and to always go to a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, rescue home or a breeder they know they can trust - otherwise they will pay a high price financially and emotionally, further down the line."