Yorkshire dog breeder 'under active investigation'

A dog breeder in South Yorkshire is under investigation by the council, it has emerged.

Cody Jones says puppies Major and Dexter started displaying parvovirus symptoms shortly after being bought from the Barnsley-based dog breeder Romany Road Dalmatians

Romany Road Dalmatians in Goldthorpe is the subject of an ‘active investigation’, Barnsley Council has confirmed.

It has emerged that there were 69 records on the council’s system relating to the breeder, involving the council’s community safety, pollution, dog warden, animal health, planning, regulatory services and pest control departments, even before a parvovirus scare this month.

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However, the breeder insisted it was not aware of any issues with the council other than planning matters, said the RSPCA had visited and been ‘happy’ with what it saw, and claimed all its animals had been inspected and given a ‘good bill of health’.

The investigation came to light after one buyer revealed how two puppies he had bought from the breeder had been left fighting for their lives with parvovirus, with one having reportedly started to display symptoms of the deadly bug within hours of being purchased.

Cody Jones says he bought Dexter, a pedigree dalmatian, from the breeder on Sunday, August 1, before returning two days later to buy Major, a dalmatian-pointer cross breed.

He had not even got Major back to his home in the West Midlands, he claims, before the puppy started throwing up and soon after developed bloody diarrhoea.

He rushed the pooch to the vet that day, where he was told the dog had parvovirus and could die if it wasn’t taken to an animal hospital and placed on a drip within an hour.

Dexter subsequently developed similar symptoms and both dogs became critically ill.

Mr Jones has set up a fundraising page with a £12,000 goal to cover the vet bills.

He said: “Dexter and Major were both doing absolutely terribly and we were told they could die at any point.”

He added that the seller had agreed to refund the cost of the two dogs but refused to cover the bill for their treatment.

Mr Jones said he had been concerned about Major’s condition when he bought him, as the puppy appeared to be very frail, and he said the matter had been reported to the RSPCA.

The dogs are thankfully both now expected to pull through.

When The Star contacted the breeder, the woman who answered said it had refunded the money to the buyer but insisted there had been no parvovirus outbreak.

"The puppies I’ve had have all been to the hospital and back and have been given a good bill of health,” she said.

She added: “The only issues I have with the council are to do with planning permission, which I’ve withdrawn and I’m moving.

“The RSPCA have been and they’re happy with everything.”

The breeder subsequently hung up and refused to answer further phone calls.

The RSPCA said: “We are unable to discuss what actions may or may not be taken against a named individual for legal reasons.”

Councillor Jim Andrews, Barnsley Council’s cabinet spokesperson for public health, said: “We are aware of this dog breeder. However, as we have an active investigation ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further at the present time.”

A council spokesman confirmed that the breeder is not currently licenced for dog breeding by the council.

The Star has learned that the breeder is known to the Wentworth & Dearne MP John Healey, who wrote to Barnsley Council asking for information about the seller after being contacted by a concerned constituent.

A response from the council’s community safety officer to Mr Healey in July revealed that there were 69 records on the council’s system relating to the breeder, involving numerous departments.It described how a meeting had been arranged involving various departments ‘to put together a strategy for dealing with the issues raised’.

Mr Healey’s office told how since that meeting at the end of July an action plan had been put in place led by Barnsley Council’s Safer Neighbourhood Service.

Parvovirus is caught by contact with faeces from infected dogs, according to the RSPCA, and can survive in the environment for up to nine months.

It mainly affects puppies aged between six weeks and six months, but it can also affect older dogs which are unvaccinated or have not had regular boosters.

The most common symptoms are severe vomiting and diarrhoea, which can be extremely bloody. Affected puppies often become dehydrated and the virus also causes the white blood cell count to drop, leaving them susceptible to other infections.

Left untreated, about 80 per cent of dogs with parvovirus will die, says the charity, but the survival rate for those who are treated is around 85 per cent.

While it declined to comment directly on this case, the RSPCA said: “We urge anyone who has concerns about puppy selling, or if you are concerned that someone is selling puppies without a licence, to contact trading standards who are responsible for the licensing of breeders. The RSPCA will assist when necessary and if there is a welfare issue.

“While we’d always encourage people to rescue a dog we know that lots of families want to take on a puppy and to help them ensure they find a responsible breeder who prioritises the health and welfare of the dogs we believe it is incredibly important that they use a Puppy Contract from the website.

“This will help prospective dog owners prepare to find their new pet and the contract provides a guide to the questions to ask to help identify responsible breeders and choose a happy, healthy puppy.

“Good breeding and care can help ensure puppies and their parents have happy and healthy lives. Irresponsible breeding and poor care can cause health and behavioural problems in puppies and stress and expense for owners.”

The RSPCA urged anyone considering buying a puppy to download a copy of the Puppy Contract for free from www.puppycontract.org.uk.