We all read horror stories of puppy farms – we can see it in the press and over social media. So when dogs find loving, caring homes we like to think that they all live happily ever after. But the sad truth is that problems for dogs don't always go away once they move to their forever homes - they can keep on paying the real cost of the greed of the puppy farmers. This is the story of my dog Roly and the battles he still faces today, 10 years after he was born on a puppy farm.

Roly is one dog that will keep on paying the price, throughout his life. He’s a small chocolate Labrador with life-limiting health problems include hip and elbow dysplasia, a deformed jaw, arthritis in his elbows and shoulders, and he had suffered from both lungworm and kennel cough as a young puppy.


He’s now undergoing regular hydrotherapy to help with his mobility as he grows older. His deformed jaw means that he needs regular dental treatment, and can't enjoy bones and treats like other dogs. Although he lives a happy life and is a much-loved family member, he still bears the scars, both physically and mentally, of his terrible start in life. Hope Rescue's Assisted Adoption programme means that Roly can have the treatment he needs, to help him lead the happy life he deserves.

Where it all began

Roly’s story starts in West Wales where he was born in the squalor of a puppy farm, the smallest of a large litter. But instead of being nurtured and cared for in a loving environment, he had the misfortune to be born in a place where the only concern was making money. Roly struggled to compete for food with his litter mates because he had a problem with his back legs. As he tried in vain to feed from his mother, no-one came to help him or tried to care for him. He was left to fend for himself and began to lag behind the others in his growth and development, ending up about a third of the size of the other pups.

Small, sickly pups do not sell and so the farmer took him away from his mother and litter mates. He was put in isolation in a cage inside a shed, in the dark. Poor Roly had no love, no care and was left there on his own to die, discarded like rubbish. So little Roly became more malnourished – all alone, afraid and unhappy!

Following a veterinary visit to the puppy farm at the request of the local authority (as a result of pressure from campaigning groups), Roly was taken to be put to sleep - his first visit to the Vet at 3 months old could well have been his last! Luckily for Roly, the Vet contacted one of Hope Rescue’s foster homes and he was taken into their care in November 2010. His battle to survive was just beginning!


Roly was content in his foster home but needed a family to call his own. Sadly no-one wanted to take him on with so many issues and an uncertain future. I saw the photos of a small, sad looking pup with lots of health issues so he joined my family as a foster, but I soon loved him unconditionally and decided that he should stay! Thanks to Hope Rescue he was rehomed as an Assisted Adoption, which means that he will be supported and his vet bills paid for the rest of his life, however long that may be.

Roly – a puppy farm survivor who never gives up but keeps giving back!

Despite being a living example of the greed of puppy farmers, he has given so much back already in his life. He has been used in a number of campaigns to educate people about the welfare and emotional costs of puppy farming, and featured in a TV current affairs programme that investigated puppy farms in Wales. He was a finalist in the RSPCA and Daily Mirror’s Animal Hero Awards 2014 and a runner up in ITV’s British Animal Honours 2013.

For two years Roly also fulfilled a special role as a mascot helping injured Royal Marines. They took him to their hearts as like them, he is facing life-long issues, and epitomises the most important parts of the Commando Ethos: ‘Courage – Determination – Fortitude’. Roly took on a number of challenges to raise money for Hope Rescue to help other dogs in need. Amongst his endeavours, he completed an ascent of Mount Snowdon in Wales. He was an absolute star and walked the whole way, with a spring in his step and a wagging tail. Even the Royal Marines were impressed by the performance of their very own ‘Canine Commando’.  He also ‘yomped’ across Dartmoor and has undertaken other fundraising events.


Despite his many problems, Roly is a happy soul, full of joy and with a real zest for life. He has an engaging personality and soon becomes a firm favourite with everyone he meets. Roly is a true inspiration to others and I feel so privileged to share my life with him.