We often hear about the drug and arms trade in the media, but what about the animal trade? The puppy mafia is one of the most lucrative million dollar businesses. The animals come from mass breeding, mostly in Poland, Romania, Slovakia or the Czech Republic. How does it work? What is the strategy of the “multipliers” and what can you do about it?
A long path of suffering
The organized criminals of the puppy mafia “produce” masses of animal puppies, whose mothers get one litter after the other in tiny lattice cages as birthing machines. The parents are poorly cared for, live in dark stables, get only the most necessary food and are “disposed of” when they no longer perform well. Not a good start for the little ones who are separated from their mother much too early (at about 4 weeks). At this age they are neither strong enough nor have they learned social behaviour.
The puppies, which were not bitten to death by their own mother due to hunger, die of thirst due to lack of breast milk or die from infections due to the dirt, are chauffeured to us in masses over long distances. This is ALWAYS illegal, as the rabies vaccination can be done at the earliest at 12 weeks, but without it crossing the border is not legal. Therefore vaccination passports are forged, the puppies are neither vaccinated nor dewormed or in other way veterinary supplied. Often the route goes via Holland or Belgium, which has become a transshipment point for pet trade. There the puppies get new papers and are chipped. This is legal in Belgium and serves the deception of the actual origin. Because dealers have there unlimited import permissions.
About half die during transport, as they usually have to manage without food, water or walking breaks. The survivors are given medication to help them look healthy during the sale. Unattached puppies are “disposed of”.
How do you recognize such animals?
Mainly the puppies are sold via classified ads on the internet. Of course, there are also private sellers who can no longer keep the puppies for certain reasons, but most of them are fully grown. A puppy rarely costs less than 800€. Many “multipliers” and “hobby breeders” disguise themselves as an association and offer the animals at reasonable prices.
The stories about the sweet animals are touching and aim at your compassion. You get the feeling that you have to save the puppy. But unfortunately this starts at the back, because this way you keep the vicious circle going. Like everywhere, the demand determines the supply, so if you buy an animal, new ones are “produced”.
Shortly after the purchase comes usually the bad awakening. Puppies from the puppy mafia usually have severe diarrhoea, severe worm infections, vomit, cannot eat food and in the worst case have parvovirosis or other, usually fatal, diseases. Many attempts to help the puppy fail miserably. In the rarest cases it is possible to nourish the dwarf after long stays at the vet and high costs. What remains is an animal that has had to go through a lot in its short life, is susceptible to disease and usually develops behavioural problems. Many diseases that were considered to have been eradicated in Austria are thus reintroduced.
Your alarm bells should ring at the following points:
- Parents, especially mothers, not on site
- Different breeds on site
- No proof of health
- Counterfeit vaccination passes, mostly from abroad (difficult for most to recognize, take a photo to discuss with your vet and never buy spontaneously. If the seller is concerned about the welfare of the animal, he gives you time to decide.)
- Puppy very small and obviously under 8 weeks
- Handover at a designated meeting point (car park, …)
- You will be persuaded to buy immediately
- In the advertisement only mobile number, no address or other data given
- Seller offers to procure other breeds
- You will not be asked questions about lifestyle
- There is no contract
- The puppy still has a sucking reflex (sucking on the finger)
- Puppy looks hungry, sick.
What can you do about it?
Even if you feel sorry for the animal, never buy a puppy under these conditions. Notify the veterinary office (MA 60 Tel: 01/4000 8060), in an emergency also the police. Don’t look away, don’t be persuaded and trade.
No serious breeder or animal protection organization will give you an animal without contract and paper. You have the opportunity to ask questions and will certainly be asked some things about your circumstances, because it is important to them to find a good place for the animal. Get to know the puppy, you are unsure about going to the vet with him. If this is refused and many excuses are found, don’t buy the puppy.