Another day, another victim of the miserable backyard trade in designer puppies. Little Enzo was given away by his breeder at just 3 days old as he had a cleft palate. No cash to be made, only huge vet bills looming so it was easier for the breeder to pass the problem on. Fortunately, he ended up with someone who actually cared. They tube fed him until he was 5 weeks old, but could not afford to continue his care so reached out for help and Enzo moved in to our care.

Enzo barely had any soft palate and his hard palate had a hole right through it. Sadly without surgery the only option was to put him to sleep. Tough choices however, although he was so small, he was a very strong and happy pup. His vet costs would soon mount up though, possibly in the region of £9,000 with the referral, pre-op care and complex surgery. We decided to give him the very best chance and refer him, taking it one day at a time. If at any point we felt his welfare was being compromised, we were prepared to make the right, and best, decision for him. 

We were so pleased with the success of his cleft palate surgery, but sadly his little lungs gave in and he passed away on 26 July 2019. This had been a recent problem he developed and left him very vulnerable. Despite the best efforts of the vets, it was clear that weren't any treatment options left. He was only 7 months old.

We don’t know why Enzo was born with a cleft palate but brachycephalic (flat-nosed) breeds such as English Bulldogs have a 30% higher risk than other breeds. Although genetics are considered the main cause of this problem, nutritional deficiencies and viruses that affect the mother during pregnancy may also increase the risk. Backyard breeders don’t care about health though. The breeder probably knows their bitch is churning out pups with cleft palates but they are considered to be collateral damage. Yet again Enzo is a “rare” and sought-after colour.

The blame mainly lies with the puppy-buying public – how many times have we explained it is public demand demand that is fuelling this miserable trade? Our plea to the public is please, do not buy these genetically flawed pups. Do not buy a puppy purely because it has a “cute” flat-face and is a “pretty” colour. Check out your local rescues first. Research responsible breeders who are breeding for health over aesthetics. If they breed specifically for these “rare” colours, walk away – they are only interested in making money. The public hold the key to helping stop this terrible welfare crisis - it’s basic economics as supply will always try to keep pace with demand. Rescue centres should not be picking up the pieces, time and time again. 

Ban on third party sales of puppies in Wales

The Welsh Government held a consultation on banning the third party sale of puppies and kittens in Wales. We look forward to working with Welsh Government through our membership of the Animal Welfare Network in Wales on this important issue.

Whilst a third party ban would be a huge and welcome step forward, we are getting increasingly concerned about the high number of poorly puppies being sold direct to the public by backyard breeders in Wales. Little Enzo's story is a good example of how terribly these dogs suffer. A third party ban in isolation will do little to stop this terrible backyard trade. Hope Rescue took part on the consultation, sharing our wider concerns about puppy breeding with Welsh Government, and we suggested potential measures that could address the issues. When we've shared our tragic stories about backyard breeders on social media we've had a number of owners come forward with their own terrible experiences, which helped to support our consultation response.