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Kennel Club’s open letter to the Daily Mail following the article: ‘I get rid of dogs as soon as they stop being cute puppies’ by Shona Sibary

28th August 2015 - 4:00 PM

Kennel Club's open letter to the Daily Mail following the article: 'I get rid of dogs as soon as they stop being cute puppies' by Shona Sibary

Dear Editor,

The article in Friday's paper 'I get rid of dogs as soon as they stop being cute puppies' by Shona Sibary, is actually a fantastic example of what not to do when buying a puppy. I wanted to provide an alternative suggestion of why Shona has trouble keeping dogs that I hope will prevent her, and other people, repeating these mistakes.  

It is not surprising that when her puppies grow into dogs, Shona is unable to cope. I would suggest that she is not the unemotional dog owner she puts forward, but instead her ignorance around responsible puppy buying is the root of the problem.  

Shona seems to do all the wrong things when buying a puppy, falling for the cute factor instead of asking 'is the breed right for my family's lifestyle?' What is the breeding environment like? Have the puppies been well socialised?

Shona's first dog, Juno, was a Siberian Husky cross. One of the factors to bear in mind when you buy a crossbreed is that you cannot know which characteristics it will inherit from each parent breed, so it can be difficult to predict your new pet's suitability for your lifestyle. However, one half of Juno's cross is the Siberian Husky, which is a breed strictly for the active as they were bred to pull sleds. They are also extremely intelligent, and so without proper exercise and stimulation, they will cause problems for an unprepared owner as they try to entertain themselves and use up their excess energy.

Choosing the right breed for your lifestyle is of utmost importance. There are over 200 different pedigree dog breeds recognised in the UK, and of course crossbreeds too, and they vary widely in terms of exercise requirements and personality. There are events like Discover Dogs, which takes place every year in London and introduces the public to hundreds of different breed and offers expert advice.

Furthermore, even though Shona admitted she wasn't getting the Rhodesian Ridgeback she thought she was when she bought Alba, she went ahead as he was 'too gorgeous to resist'. This is unsurprisingly, a common way people fall into buying a dog unsuitable for them, and why puppy buyers should always see the puppy before they buy it and never bring the children on a first visit. You need to do all of your research about your breed and breeder before you put yourself in this position.

From Shona's description, it sounds as if she bought from breeders who did not know what they were doing. It doesn't sound as if she checked to see if the supposed 'pedigree dog' was registered on the Kennel Club database, which you can easily check online. Here you can also see if the parents of any KC registered dog have been health tested. It also seems that Shona didn't meet the litter with their mother. This is one of the fundamental rules when buying a puppy - always see the litter with the mother, in their breeding environment, before agreeing to buy a puppy.

Perhaps most worryingly, her puppy Pippa was brought in from Eastern Europe. The story that the owner was unable to cope sounds doubtful, considering that puppies are not legally allowed to be brought in to the country until they are at least 12 weeks old - how long did the owner have the puppy for? It sounds as if the puppy was brought over by one of the growing number of unscrupulous breeders who are cheaply breeding dogs in horrific environments and then smuggling them into the UK to sell for maximum profit.

Puppy buyers should always see a litter with its mum before deciding on a dog - they should see, first-hand, the temperament and personality of the mum, as this is a good indication of how the puppy will turn out. The litter should be well socialised, vaccinated and they should never be separated before they are eight weeks old. Kennel Club Assured Breeders all sign up to these rules and their paperwork and premises are checked by the Kennel Club so we would always recommend going to an Assured Breeder.

Clearly unaware of the importance of a finding a good breeder and choosing the right breed for her lifestyle, Shona is setting herself up to fail time and time again. Unfortunately, her story is not uncommon and one of the reasons so many dogs need to be rehomed and rescue organisations are at breaking point.

It just so happens that Shona's article coincides with Puppy Awareness Week which begins this week. So perhaps she should watch the Kennel Club's video guide to buying a puppy:  /our-resources/kennel-club-campaigns/puppy-farming/puppy-awareness-week/.


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