• Day 46: Going undercover to rescue a Staffy (part 2)

    Oct 4th

    ‘What’s that smell?’ said Billie.

    We got to the front door of the house that was selling the staffy pups, deep in East London. The building was tired and the window was open on to the street.

    ‘I can’t smell anything’ I said.

    Billie’s nose was turned up. Maybe she was just suspicious.  ‘I know these types of places,’ she said,  ‘the house is run down, the dogs are in awful conditions, I know how it goes. They’ll be on benefits and still making money off these poor dogs. This place stinks’

    ‘Let’s just see’ I said, still sniffing the air, half expecting to smell some sort of doggy death odour.

    I knocked on the door. A middle-aged woman opened. She was holding two tiny staffy pups, both brindle brown. She seemed relaxed and friendly although her slightly stained sweat pants didn’t keep my prejudices at bay.

    ‘Oh my god!! They’re so cute’ said Billie,  expertly slipping into the character of my naive dog-loving niece wanting a dog NOW. I made a mental effort to step into my role as her uncle before realising I had no idea how her uncle might behave. What does an uncle do apart from dance badly at weddings? I played it safe by standing fairly motionless in my woolly hat and poorly fitting glasses saying very little.Would they recognise me…I said, concerned only for myself.

    The woman explained the puppies were just eight weeks old. They were minute, wriggling in her arms. Even I could tell they were younger. We talked for a while as Billie (as my neice) protested to me we had to buy them. Was she saying something to me in code? Were these dogs really sick or was she pretending? What would an UNCLE say?

    Out comes the runt

    ‘We do have another pup’ said the woman, ‘but we don’t want to sell him. He’s the runt. And to be honest he’s not too well’

    Something triggered in Billie. Even I could see she was now genuinely concerned. ‘Can we see her please!’ she said in faux excitement. The woman went back inside and shortly after she came out with the very tiniest, sickest little thing I had ever seen: a light brown dog half the size of it’s siblings. Billie didn’t need to wink at me to make her point. I knew we had to get this dog out of there.

    The tiny, probably sick, runt of the litter.

    ‘He’s on a special milk subsitute’ said the woman. ‘But he also likes a bit of curry now and then’.  I could feel Billie getting hot with fury as if she herself had just eaten a vindaloo.

    A short negotiation followed and I managed to buy two dogs for £80: the runt and another female Staffy (so we could stop more unwanted breedings) This was more money than I wanted to give to someone on Gumtree but we both wanted to get this runt to a vet quickly.

    As we walked away clutching our prizes Billie expressed in no uncertain terms how much she hated the woman. I wanted to agree but I stopped myself short

    ‘I get the feeling she genuinely cared for the dogs’. Billie looked at me as if to say ‘WHAT???’.  ‘I mean,  she was upset about that runt being sick. Although I’ve no doubt she hasn’t a clue about looking after dogs.’

    ‘Oh no,’ said Billie. ‘Don’t you get taken in. That was all an act. She just wants the money. She knows how to play the game’.

    Billie had a lot more experience than me in these things – but she also had seen a lot more bad stuff to make her angry, and she was perhaps, understandably, less patient. I didn’t know who was right.

    I took both dogs home to my place where Bug and Moose, our own schnauzers, looked distinctly like they wanted to eat them.  I fed the puppies in a separate room and watched as the tiniest sick-looking one drank and drank its milk subsitute as if was trying to soothe its mouth after a very hot curry indeed. I decided the runt was called Peanut and the brown sister was called Poppy.

    The charity had agreed to take the puppies in if I could foster them for a few days. I watched as Poppy laid a  sloppy turd on my wooden floor. This would be interesting. Off to the vet tomorrow to see if they are OK.

    Poppy and peanut. You have to worry about the size difference.


    Poppy. Stronger than peanut but not much. This dog is likely much under the required 8 weeks age at which Gumtree says dogs aren’t allowed to be sold on the site.

    Peanut, that eye don’t look great…


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    4 Responses to “Day 46: Going undercover to rescue a Staffy (part 2)”

    1. Hallo Martin,
      reading this last two-part story breathless…I didn’t watch the video yet, so I hope you aren’t saying in it what I am about to ask – why doesn’t the charity or you call the RSPCA, shouldn’t they come and take all the animals from these people? Would they actually take them or is it law-complicated issue? I ask because I guess you might have talked about it with Billie or her colleagues.
      Good luck to the rescued puppies, hope they both will be fine and healthy. And good luck to you too!

    2. Well you’ll see later in the blog we did actually call the RSPCA but its not always a solution. Most people who I have spoken to in the dog rescue world say its no point calling the RSPCA as they don’t always act, although that’s not been my experience. However they probably wouldn’t do anything unless a dog was in immediate danger (they would have taken the runt, but we took it and you’ll see that we took it straight to the vets in next post) and its not actually illegal to sell dogs. But thanks for your concern and I’ll try and get more information.

    3. Hi Martin, Michele here. It’s a dilemma…if you don’t buy the pups, they aren’t saved, their fate – we can guess…sadly. If you buy the pups, it seems to these ‘breeders’ that there IS a ‘demand’ , a ‘market’. You could ring RSPCA but they will say they are not in danger (at the moment…).

      Your deed/reportage serves to publicise this evil trade – well done.

      But what is the long-term solution to this trade? ….

      I need to think too….


    4. Hey michele

      thanks for post.

      The long term solution is not easy. But here are some brief thoughts

      1) Raise awareness so unsuspecting moral people don’t buy off the internet
      2) Push for legal change so pets can not be sold on sites like this
      3) Change the perception of staffies as ‘tough’ dogs so they aren’t in favour with young kids and those that won’t treat them well.
      4) Encourage more people to adopt unwanted staffies
      5) Raise money for charities like All Dogs Matter

      But you are right, the situation is bad. Keep reading!

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