Q&A with Marc Abraham BVM&S MRCVS
Q1 What first inspired you to become a vet?My parents loved animals so I grew up used to pets always being around. I’m told that at age three when my tortoise had a maggot in its leg which I successfully removed using a twig. As a child I loved animals so much I spent more time with them than with humans.
When I was running a clinic in Brighton lots of puppies were coming in suffering with deadly parvovirus. I traced where these sick pups came from, and by working under cover, learned how puppy farmers work. I was shocked to discover puppy farming was far more widespread than I would have imagined, and I reasoned that if I, a vet, didn’t know the size of the problem, neither would the general public. From that moment it became my mission to educate and raise awareness of this issue.
Q3 Do you encounter many puppies from puppy farms in your veterinary practice?
Yes we see a lots in my practice, usually the smaller handbag dogs e.g. pugs and chihuahuas, or ‘designer cross-breed’ dogs e.g. cavachons, maltipoos, etc.
Q4 Is puppy farming generally becoming more common and if so, why might that be?
Yes because puppy farmers think they can get away with it, and all too often they do because the current legislation is outdated, totally inadequate, and rarely enforced.
Q5 Are many puppies sold in pet shops and animal centres supplied by puppy farms? How are puppies usually transported from puppy farms to the stores?Yes, many puppies for sale in shops, garden centres, and online will have been born on cruel puppy farms. They’ll then usually be transported in cages by the dealers by road, a terrifyingly stressful experience. Farmed puppies will have been reared in disgusting places and will be incubating lethal bacterial and viral infections so their unscrupulous breeders move them out at too young an age knowing the pups are likely to succumb to disease or become ‘less cute’ if they delay
Q6 How is a dog from a puppy farm disadvantaged when compared with a dog from a more traditional background
In so many ways. The breeding stock in puppy farms are diseased and malnourished in the first place. Their puppies suffer from inbreeding and over-breeding of their parents leading to congenital and emotional problems. They are reared in stressful and squalid conditions, lacking in any socialisation by being removed from the
ir mums too early. There is no comparison with traditionally bred puppies raised in a loving, clean, home environment.
Q7 What should we be looking out for when buying a puppy? How might we recognise indications of puppy farming if we see puppies advertised for sale?Always see the pup with the mum and especially insist you see them interacting well together. Be suspicious if a breeder is selling more than one breed of puppy, also Google the phone number to see if it matches up with lots of other puppies being sold. Look for Kennel Club Assured Breeders. People buying from these unscrupulous breeders may think they are saving money but they are buying a ticking time bomb of disease and misery. If the puppy survives they may end up having to spend many thousands of pounds on vet bills.
Q9 Tell us about your ‘Pup Aid’ campaign and your petition to parliament asking to ban the cruel practice of puppy and kitten farming in the UK!After some months of thinking about how to tackle puppy farming I decided to launch a government e-petition to ban the sale of puppies and kittens in pet shops, garden centres, i.e. without their mums. This will be an effective way of removing a significant part of the supply chain – not all but it’s a start. With the help of some of my animal-loving celebrity contacts like Ricky Gervais, Brian May, and Peter Egan. We managed through social media especially Facebook and Twitter (using hashtag #wheresmum) to gainover 100,000 signatures within six months. Puppy farming will now be debated in the Main Chamber of Parliament on Thursday September 4th 2014. We are supported by all the major animal welfare organisations including RSPCA, Dogs Trust, and Kennel Club, but sadly not the Pet Industry Federation who represent pet shops and don’t want to see a ban on puppies sold in pet shops.
Q10 How is the campaign progressing and how may we support it?
We need people to contact their MP’s right now, and ask that they attend the debate and vote ‘YES’ for a ban on the 4th September.
The following two links are on the Kennel Club website: