Made in Wales - sold by Dogs 4 Us

Why is it that Raymond McCadden, owner of the Dogs 4 Us brand, who left at least £1.96  million owing to HMRC and other creditors when seven of his previous companies went into liquidation, won’t answer a simple question?

“What percentage of the total number of puppies sold by Dogs 4 Us in the past 12 months show the breeder’s location as being in Wales on the pedigree chart?”

It doesn’t require him to disclose any commercially sensitive or confidential information, but he remains silent.

The fact is that most puppies sold in UK pet shops, of which Dogs 4 Us is by far the biggest still selling puppies, are bred in Wales or Ireland. And the majority of them are bred in a production line operation to maximise the profit they will bring to their breeder. Plus the others in the supply chain, like Dogs 4 Us.

Raymond McCadden doesn’t want potential buyers to know about the squalid, cramped conditions so many of the cute bundles of fur on display in his stores were born into. Or that the mothers and fathers of these cuties will spend their lives in a dark, unheated concrete pen, with barely enough room to swing the proverbial cat.

If they’re lucky, when their breeding days are done and there’s no more profit to be squeezed out of them, they will be sent to a rescue. The odds are in their favour that a true dog lover will give them their first real home, and with kindness, time and patience, overcome the fear they have of all humans. For what’s left of their lives they will give and receive the affection and loyalty that’s in the nature of all dogs.

They’re the lucky ones. The others will just be killed.

Careless breeding ruins lives

But that’s only part of the reason Raymond McCadden and Dogs 4 Us don’t want buyers to know where so many of their puppies come from.

With no concern for little matters like checking both parents for genetic defects, screening for known breed specific conditions, making sure the parents are not closely related, limiting the number of litters for each bitch and ensuring that she receives the highest standard of nutrition, care and hygiene during and after pregnancy, the potential for serious health issues in their offspring skyrockets.

Here are just a few stories of how careless breeding in Wales, mostly by licensed breeders, meant heartache and often huge expense for owners of puppies purchased from Dogs 4 Us.

Tyke's story

Tyke is a Staffie. At 8 months old, he developed a limp. After tests and X rays his vet diagnosed a severe luxating patella in his left hind leg and signs of the same condition in the right. He had his first operation just after his first birthday and the vet found his knee joint was badly deformed.

The condition is genetic and the severity was such that one or both of his parents must have displayed the symptoms and should never have been allowed to breed.

Tyke has had further surgery and may well need more. He will also need medication for the rest of his life. His vet believes other less serious conditions which have surfaced are due to over breeding.

Made in Wales - sold by Dogs 4 Us

Jacka's story

Jacka was the first puppy of a 10 year old boy. 

After just four months he was put to sleep due to intra-hepatic shunts and possible extra-hepatic shunting vessel cranial to the renal cavity, a congenital condition present from birthHis vet stated the most likely cause was over breeding of his mother.

He had been examined by the Dogs 4 Us vet and signed off as fit for sale.

Made in Wales – sold by Dogs 4 Us

Bella's story

Bella was a Yorkshire Terrier and much loved by her owners. After months of complications she had a massive seizure and despite her vet’s best efforts, died.

She was just 7 months old.

Bella was bred on a puppy farm featured in Jason Farrell’s exposé of Dogs 4 Us on Channel Five News.

Made in Wales– sold by Dogs 4 Us 

Dilly's story

Shortly after Dilly’s new owners took her home she was very sick and would not eat or drink.

For most of the next few weeks she was at the vets, on a drip and not expected to live.

She had Coccidiosis, a parasitic infection of the intestinal tract, usually passed to puppies though the mother’s faeces. Not difficult with the appalling lack of hygiene in puppy farms.

Dilly was lucky and survived her ordeal, but at huge cost to her owners.

Made in Wales – sold by Dogs 4 Us

Izzy's story

Izzy’s owner soon discovered she had deformed ribs, breathing difficulties because her nasal passages weren’t properly developed, an enlarged heart and other problems.

Issues easily identified by a competent vet, but Izzy was signed off as fit for sale by Dogs 4 Us.

She has also been diagnosed with serious hip dysplasia, but her loving owner will not give up on her.

Made in Wales – sold by Dogs 4 Us

Don't worry, there's a six month guarantee

Dogs 4 Us make much of the 6 month guarantee offered against puppies sold by them being diagnosed with a defect which can be proved to have been present at birth. Many such issues will not become apparent until 6 to 12 months anyway.

That doesn't mean they will arrange or pay for veterinary treatment. They attempt to exclude liability for those costs in the purchase paperwork. No, they will offer to replace the puppy, or in some cases give you your money back. 

How many of us would want to exchange the puppy which has quickly become a part of our family for another, rather like a defective TV, so that it can be quietly destroyed?

In reality, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 gives consumers far more protection than the much promoted guarantee, and may well enable them to claim compensation for veterinary costs as well.

No-one can completely eliminate the possibility that any dog will suffer from health issues, any more than they can for humans. But buying a puppy from a pet shop like Dogs 4 Us, sourced from breeders purely in the business of making money from a cash crop, massively increases the risk that they will.

Responsible breeders don't supply puppies to pet shops