The BBC has released a documentary today (20 July) on 'Britain's Puppy Boom: Counting the Cost', an exploration into illegal activities in a canine fertility course.
Presented by veterinary surgeon Fabian Rivers - a BVA Council member, winner of the the BVA Young Vet of the Year Award 2020, and star of CBBC's The Pets Factor - the documentary reveals the shocking practices that some breeders have illegally undertaken in order to fuel the 'pandemic puppy' boom.
Fabian told MRCVS Online: "During filming, it was very clear that the complexion of the puppy boom was multifaceted and very complex. Culture, naivety and some pretty barbaric practices were at the forefront of a lot of the discoveries.”
The undercover footage featured in the documentary shows unqualified and unregulated people illegally taking blood from animals, and advocating the use of human contraceptive pills.
Also revealed in the footage are potentially illegal acts, such as entering a body cavity during artificial insemination, alongside poor animal hygiene and handling.
“Vets have seen worryingly some momentum to compromised animal welfare practices and this documentary was intended to help make the the reality of those decisions, accessible and available,” Fabian added.
“Vets, breeders and the general public are all stake holders in how we address this pandemic sized phenomenon. Education is so important but so is regulation and legislation and with both, I really believe the general public will start to see the gravity of what buying a new puppy is.”
The BVA has called for immediate and necessary enforcement action to clamp down on illegal activities in canine fertility clinics following the documentary.
BVA senior vice president Daniella Dos Santos commented: “It appears many clinics are focused on the breeds that can have serious welfare issues and as such veterinary professionals advise against.
“Rather than listen to sound veterinary advice these unscrupulous breeders are taking their own actions and risking animal welfare.
“The handling and treatment of the animals in the undercover footage clearly demonstrates that the welfare of these dogs is not being protected or respected. Urgent enforcement action is needed to clamp down on these unregulated and dangerous practices.”
The BBC has reported its findings to Defra, Trading Standards, and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate for further investigation.
The documentary is available to view at bbc.co.uk/iplayer