Dog owner calls for tougher rules to reduce disease fears

A Lincolnshire woman is campaigning for stricter rules to be introduced on the testing of dogs before they are used for breeding.

Rufus and Marlow. Picture: Sue Fellstead-Solley.

Sue Fellstead-Solley is keen to raise awareness of the issue after losing two Border Collie puppies to a hereditary disease.

Sue and her family – who live near Market Rasen – welcomed ‘brothers’ Marlow and Rufus into their home last year.

Both puppies had Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS).

Puppies with TNS have an impaired immune system and will eventually die from infections they cannot fight.

Sadly, this was the case for Marlow and Rufus.

The family made the difficult decision to put Marlow to sleep in January of this year and earlier this month said goodbye to Rufus due to TNS.

The Fellstead-Solley family say they are still coming to terms with the loss of Marlow and Rufus, but hope that by welcoming two new arrivals – Barney and Fred – they will help with the grieving process.

Barney and Fred are Border Collies but importantly, both parents have been DNA tested and do not have TNS.

Barney and Fred have also been vaccinated, wormed and micro-chipped.

Sue explained: “The breeder has given me all the information I wanted it should be a standard that everybody can buy with confidence.

“It is a bittersweet feeling because we are so excited to have them and start our Border Collie journey but we are so sad that Rufus and Marlow are not with us.”

Sue says the process of finding Barney and Fred has ‘opened her eyes’ to the money-making process of puppy selling.

Sue says she contacted several breeders – including Kennel Club registered breeders – selling Border Collies for upwards of £2,000, but no DNA testing had been carried out on the puppies/parents.

She said: “As soon as you are charging for a dog, you have an obligation to the animal and the new owners to make sure there is nothing wrong with the puppy.

“If I was a breeder, I would look into whatever illnesses those dogs can be prone to.

“Sadly, many people just see it as a money making scheme.”

Bill Lambert, head of health and welfare at the Kennel Club, urged potential puppy buyers to use an accredited scheme.

He said: “We always advise potential buyers to use our UKAS-accredited Assured Breeder scheme as members have to carry out mandatory health tests for dogs they breed from.

“All Assured Breeders have to adhere to breed-specific requirements and recommendations when it comes to health testing and for Border Collies, this includes screening for multiple conditions including TNS.”