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Illegal backyard breeders are the main cause of pet overpopulation in BC

Vancouver, BC — Most people aren’t aware that animals bought through websites and online classified ads don’t come from reputable sources and are often bred in deplorable conditions. These animals usually spend their lives in cramped wire cages. Many never have their medical needs taken care of and are killed when they are no longer able to breed.

“These are the true costs of buying a pet online from a backyard,” says Dr. Adrian Walton of Dewdney Animal Hospital in Maple Ridge, BC. “These kids of purchases continue to enable and support animal cruelty.”

In 2005, Dr. Walton—a veterinary partner of Paws for Hope Animal Foundation—was working in a Veterinary Emergency Practice in a semi-rural area when a woman came in with a boxer. The dog had given birth to a litter just a few months before and the puppies were close to being sold. The woman explained that the mother had digestive problems and that the puppies had recently stopped eating. 

While the mother was not vaccinated—the owner did not feel it was worth doing—she had purchased some vaccines for puppies before putting them up for sale. By that point, several people had come to see the puppies and had put down deposits. The puppies had been vaccinated the week before hoping that would provide appropriate protection. Dr. Walton explained to the owner that the mother would require immediate hospitalization and IV fluids and was guarded in his prognosis. 

“Due to the condition of the animal, euthanasia was warranted, but I didn’t even get the chance to give her a cost estimate before she selected that option,” explained Dr. Walton. “Afterwards, I advised her that the puppies would need to be isolated and could not be rehomed until they were medically cleared. 48 hours later, the same woman came in with 11 puppies—all severely dehydrated and with serious health problems. I inquired about their vaccinations and discussed options. Apparently, the vaccines were purchased months prior and stored in a cupboard. We euthanized all 11 puppies.”

If that backyard breeder had spent $10 to vaccinate the one adult boxer before she had her litter, that entire situation could have been avoided and 12 dogs would still be alive today. Less than 24 hours later, the same woman came back to Dr. Walton with two more litters—25 puppies in total— as well as two golden retrievers, a male Labrador retriever, and three female poodles. 

“All for euthanasia. Forty-two dogs and puppies dead by my hand in less than one week. My shift was over after that.” 

Paws for Hope Animal Foundation’s relaunched Pets Are Not Products campaign aims to bring awareness to the inhumane practices of backyard breeders and animal breeding mills. Time and time again unsuspecting people fall in love with the cute pet in the window or in a photo but end up with heartache and years of expensive vet bills due to the neglect and malice of these breeders. 

“If they don’t come from a shelter or rescue, every pet sold in a retail store comes from an inhumane breeding mill,” says Paws for Hope Executive Director Kathy Powelson. “Help us raise awareness and fight back against animal cruelty and the number one cause of pet overpopulation in Canada.”
People can learn more about online animal sales, red flags to look out for when searching for a pet to add to their family, and how to identify responsible rescues and breeders by visiting:

About Paws for Hope Animal Foundation

Paws for Hope envisions communities that embrace all pets as family, ensuring they are loved, free from harm, and where no pet is left behind. To that end, our mission is to shift the culture of companion animal welfare in British Columbia by creating new models of practice and remediating the underlying causes of harm through cross-sector collaboration, education, and advocacy.

Interviews or More Information

For more information or to request an interview, please contact [email protected] or via phone at (604) 396-9297

Available for interview:
Dr. Adrian Walton, Dewdney Animal Hospital
Kathy Powelson, Paws for Hope Animal Foundation

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