The trade in misery is relentless. We see it up close and personal, and it's not pretty. Aerwen was one of the 14 English and French Bulldogs seized from a back yard breeder by South Wales Police following a series of raids in Cardiff back in July. Every single dog was poorly, some more than others. Aerwen was 8 weeks old when she arrived, and was struggling to breathe with fluid on her lungs. She was treated for pneumonia and despite being a sickly girl she was adopted by Amy and Stuart, two staff members who fell head over heels in love with her. She became a firm favourite at the charity shop and rescue centre, often going to work with Amy and Stuart. She was back and forth the vets continually and treated for breathing issues, digestion issues and skin problems with the folds on her face. When playing with puppies her own age, she had to stop her after 5-10 minutes or she would overheat and collapse. She gasped and panted after a play session or run on the beach. She wanted to play, but had to be stopped soon after or she would harm herself. She was due to have an endoscopy to understand more of her breathing issues and possible BOAS surgery to improve her airways.
We woke up on Friday morning to tragic news. Aerwen had sadly passed away overnight. We undertook a post mortem which revealed continual aspirated pneumonia from birth. Her lungs were full of pus, and it appeared she had a coughing fit and her trachea collapsed. There was absolutely nothing that could be done to prevent it and the vet said it was a miracle she had survived as long as she had. To say Amy and Stuart were devastated is an understatement. Their pain and grief was felt throughout the rescue. They were stopped on a daily basis by people saying how beautiful Aerwen was, and constantly explaining that her rare/pretty colouring and brachycephalic (flat-face) breed simply disguised a raft of expensive health issues. Inherent health issues that eventually led to tragedy.
This isn't an isolated story. We have continually banged the drum about irresponsible back yard breeders and shared our awful experiences. Everyone knows about puppy farmers, but back yard breeders hide behind urban front doors - they are your neighbour, your realtive or your friend. They don't care about the inherent health problems of the dogs they are breeding - the flat-nosed French Bulldogs, the Pugs, the English Bulldogs and the designer crossbreeds. They know the public want "pretty" colours so they breed genetically flawed blues, lilacs and merles. They don't care about the misery that follows; not their problem as the cash is in the bank. It's a multi-million pound business. Yet still the puppy owning public willingly hand over their cash despite all the hard campaigning. It starts and stops with demand. Don't let Aerwen's tragic end be in vain; don't let another family face the heartbreak. We have to tackle the demand for these dogs or nothing will change - it's up to the puppy buying public. We will continue to lobby Welsh Government about poor breeding practices as we need to go beyond just a ban on third party puppy sales. Please share Aerwen's story and keep Amy and Stuart in your thoughts. Sleep tight beautiful girl, the tears are still flowing but we will continue the fight in your memory.