A woman from Brixham calls for more public awareness and breeder reform to prevent hereditary diseases in dogs.
In February 2018, Annie Wilson decided to buy a puppy and welcomed the Burmese Mountain Dog Buttons to her family.
Unfortunately, Annie – a veteran large dog owner – noticed after a few months of her life that Buttons was limping and not enjoying her walks.
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Buttons was eventually diagnosed with hereditary elbow and hip dysplasia and had to undergo extensive surgery when she was only nine months old.
Both conditions are hereditary, and many large breeds are predisposed to them. However, in some dogs, several environmental factors can increase the severity of the disease, such as: B. if the dog is overweight.
Annie said she didn’t know “how bad” dogs with elbow and hip dysplasia could get before owning her pup, and now she wants to educate others about the possible effects of hereditary diseases.
Buttons – now three – has been on pain medication all his life and has been on a restricted exercise regimen to manage her ailments.
(Image: Jan Andrews)
She is also still in training, as she only had limited opportunities to socialize as a puppy and has therefore lagged behind in her social development.
Inspired by her experiences, Annie created a campaign called “What’s in my Genes?” started. to raise awareness of hereditary diseases in dogs and put pressure on breeders to conduct health tests and raise puppies responsibly.
The campaign also encourages potential puppy owners to ask their breeders more questions before committing to buying a dog.
“You have to ask for the parent dog’s health certificates because that’s the only way to keep breeders tested right now because there are such a small percentage of them right now,” she said.
Annie said that even breeders who test their parent dogs for health and get poor results can still breed puppies.
“Only when they are licensed and subject to animal welfare regulations can anyone be prosecuted for breeding a dog that knowingly passes on genetic diseases,” said Annie.
“If you don’t have a license, you can do anything.
“We would like all puppy buyers to request that all parent dogs be health tested and then hopefully those who don’t, pass by,” she said.
“It is a matter of the heart, not a matter of the head, to buy a puppy – it is a matter of the heart.
“That’s why I really believe that breeders have a responsibility to breed ethically and to put health and temperament first.
“And that is only possible through regulation and legislation.
“It is the buyer’s responsibility to ask for health tests etc and a lot of people don’t know about hereditary diseases so I’m trying to get the word out.
“But it should be the breeders who actually run the tests and basically only breed healthy dogs.”
And it appears ‘What’s in my genes?’ is a timely campaign.
There has been a tremendous demand for puppies since the pandemic began, and with that increased demand, so have prices.
The Mirror reports that the price of King Charles Spaniel puppies alone rose from £ 900 to around £ 3,000 during lockdown.
And research conducted by the Kennel Club last year found that one in four people admitted to buying a puppy on impulse during the pandemic.
Annie said some people don’t even think about asking about their potential pup’s health.
“They just wanted a puppy,” she said.
“They don’t believe that a breeder will breed anything other than a healthy animal. Why should they take risks?
“But they do it because it’s unregulated except for some licensed ones.
“The temptation is for someone to breed a litter no matter what and make a lot of money and get away with it because there are no regulations.
“It is incomprehensible, but even some of those who have just done this do not know themselves that they could breed [dogs with] Hereditary diseases in their litter because they just don’t know.
“It’s not talked about enough – people don’t know enough about it, I think.”
Annie recommends anyone considering buying a puppy check out The Puppy Contract online.
“Once you have decided which breed is best for you, do a health assessment of the breed of dog you want,” Annie said.
Annie is currently running a poster contest to promote her campaign and will be running a sponsored dog walk on September 5th.
You can find more information on both and more information on hereditary diseases in dogs here.
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