Sunday, March 18, 2012

'Where's Mum? Wish I'd known when we got Oscar': Meg Mathews and daughter Anais help launch anti-puppy farming campaign

By Georgina Littlejohn

Today, across the country, millions of mothers will be greeted by their children with big smiles and arms filled with chocolates, flowers and hugs.

Meg Mathews is certainly no exception and she and her 12-year-old daughter Anais will spend a lovely Mothering Sunday together in London with their beautiful Boston Terrier Oscar faithfully by their side.

But the designer also thought that this would be a particularly poignant day to help launch a new campaign that has become very close to her heart, especially when she thinks about all she has gone through with her cute canine friend.

A girl's best friend: Meg Mathews and her daughter Anais pose with their cute Boston Terrier Oscar as they help launch Where's Mum?, a new anti-puppy farming campaign

Meg has become one of the famous faces backing Where's Mum?, a new campaign launched today by TV vet Marc Abraham to lead up to PupAid, an annual event held each year to raise awareness about the puppy farming trade in the UK.

Where's Mum? wants to educate potential owners about this cruel trade and make sure that they only buy from a reputable and honourable breeder - who is able to show them the pups looking happy and healthy and, very importantly, interacting and playing with their mother.

Each year, hundreds, if not thousands, of puppies are born to these irresponsible breeders on these so-called farms into horrific conditions where they are taken away from their mothers far too soon and kept in dark and dingy confined spaces often in their own waste, far apart from other dogs and riddled with disease, many of them incurable.

They are then transported hundreds of miles across the UK and sold en masse to pet shops, online or from free newspaper adverts and usually die soon after reaching their new home or require thousands of pounds worth of medical treatment causing them and their new families more heartache - something Meg knows only too well.

Raising awareness: Meg and Anais want potential dog owners to make sure they buy from a reputable breeder, they always ask to see the mother and stop the demand for these inhumane puppy farms

Meg said she cannot be sure if Oscar, who is now three years old, was the product of this cruel and terrible trade, but thinks it's highly likely because of all the problems they had with their adorable pooch from the start.

Speaking exclusively to Mail Online, she said: 'Me and my daughter decided to get a dog and Anais said she would like a Boston Terrier. So I got online and there were lots of sites for puppies for sale and ready to take home.

So we drove up to Grimsby and were shown a litter but something wasn't right because they were a right mixture, all different sizes and ages. But we went for Oscar because he was the cute little runt and took him home - but then all the problems started.

'He had a cleft palate anyway but he got sicker and sicker every day and was just so ill that he must have made about 30 visits to the vet in those first weeks. He would hide away from us, he'd be sick and he lost so much weight.'

Doggie day out: Meg and Oscar and Pugalicious at last year's PupAid in Brighton

But one trip to the vet appeared, at first, to have solved the issue when a piece if string was found in his stomach, and Meg assumed that he'd been at the Sunday roast beef and all was well again.

Sadly not, and the drama, tears and heartache resumed when the following night, at midnight, Meg desperately bundled Oscar up and beside herself with worry, drove him to a 24 hour vet in north London.

She said: 'He was skin and bones - I think some people would give me looks when I took him out as though I wasn't feeding him properly - and I was so worried, I really thought that this was it, he was going to die.'

Thankfully, he was soon taken to and treated by the wonderful team at the Royal Veterinary College who determined that Oscar's stomach wasn't connected to his organs properly and he had to go through extensive surgery to correct it.

Oscar is now a happy and loving dog, who, thanks to Meg bringing in another pup addition to the family in the form of pug Pugalicious, is also able to socialise better with other dogs and is very much part of the family.

Meg said: 'But for the first six months of his life, well, he had no life. He had no social skills and had no idea how to interact with other dogs. But that's all changed now and I think getting Pugalicious really helped.

'Oscar will be three in April and he's healthy and a lot more solid, he started filling out at Christmas and is just the most wonderful, loving dog.'

Meg met Marc through PupAid a couple of years ago and has been involved in the campaign ever since.

He said: 'Puppies depend heavily on their mums in the early weeks of life, not just for milk but also for developing their socialisation skills which help set them up for life. I want everyone buying a puppy to ask one simple question - "Where's Mum?".

'If the breeder or puppy's seller can't or won't show you the puppy with its mother, then you should suspect the puppy was born on a puppy farm and go elsewhere such as a responsible breeder or rescue shelter.'

And after the problems with Oscar, Meg added that Where's Mum? really hit her hard and she wants to do all she can to raise awareness and stop the demand for puppies inhumanely bred on cruel puppy farms.

She added: 'Of course, I didn't know about puppy farming or even that I should have asked to see the mother but in hindsight I realise that a proper breeder would not have sold him to us like that.

'We're supposed to be a nation of animal lovers yet this is happening right under our noses, even more so now with designer dogs becoming such a status symbol, making the demand even higher.

'We have to make sure that anyone thinking of buying a dog does it the right way so we can put these 'farms' - which unbelievably are legal - out of business once and for all.



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