Breeders are willing to break the law and risk dogs’ health by artificially inseminating them to take advantage of the pandemic boom in puppy demand.
The Sunday Mirror discovered a 10-fold increase in canine fertility clinics in the last two years, some in kitchens and backrooms of shops.
Some forms of assisted reproduction are legal, but our probe found advertisements for a handful of clinics offering a procedure for around £350.
According to the Veterinarians Act, transcervical insemination (TCI) may only be carried out legally by qualified veterinarians.
Here, sperm are inserted through the cervix into the uterus using a catheter. It requires special equipment and can cause potentially fatal injuries and infections if messed up.
The charity Naturewatch said the number of UK canine fertility clinics has risen to over 300 from 37 before the first lockdown.
Puppy breeding expert Natalie Harney said: “This is heartbreaking. We breed dogs to the absolute limit. There must be something.”
Caroline Allen, chief veterinarian of the RSPCA, said: “Some of the breeding that we are seeing at the moment is appalling. There are types of bulldogs that cannot breathe, sleep, or exercise properly.
“These people want to bypass vets because they don’t care about animal welfare. They treat dogs as commodities – just things that make money.”
Some of these clinics featured menus of dogs as potential mates for clients’ mutts, which pundits criticized for breaking up the gene pool.
One clinic advised our undercover reporters to break local authority rules in creating multiple litters, saying, “You don’t have to be honest.”
The social media pages of the clinics we visited are covered with footage of flat-faced pooches — like pugs and bulldogs — that they created using a controversial canine fertility treatment.
Decades of overbreeding has caused these animals — brachycephalic dogs — to develop major genetic deformities.
Many are unable to conceive naturally and have major labor problems as the puppies often get stuck in the birth canal due to their narrow pelvis.
Data released last month showed that French bulldogs were expected to live just four and a half years. The lifespan of a healthy dog is 10 to 13 years.
And 80% of French bulldogs have to have cesareans – putting them at risk of fatal abdominal infections.
Several of the clinics we explored had a selection of ‘stud dogs’ charging up to £500 for donor sperm. Flat-faced breeds, which are most at risk of health problems, dominated these lists.
All clinics offered artificial insemination services, some of which are still legal, despite concerns from experts.
A handful, including K9 Clinics in Ilford, East London, promoted TCIs. His website and Instagram page featured images of bulldogs created using this extremely risky method.
The website states: “Service overview: The semen is inserted through the cervix into the uterus using an endoscope (tube) – allowing the cervix to be visualized and a catheter inserted.
“This is called transcervical insemination and can be done while a dog is standing.” Our undercover reporters posed as potential clients at the Ilford Clinic, which is down an alleyway.
It cost £50 for a consultation for our reporter’s one-year-old cockatoo Luna. Still, the employee didn’t ask questions about Luna’s medical history or if she had any genetic diseases. He confirmed that he specialized in bulldog breed mating but would do a TCI on Luna for £350.
He boasted that he has performed TCI on more than 1,000 dogs and that: “Everything we do is legal.” We asked her if there were any risks to her from TCI, which if done improperly could cause internal trauma and infections, and he said, “No, nothing at all.” We asked about his qualifications and said, “We wouldn’t need to take her to the vet?”
He replied, “No, no.” Pointing to the certificates on the wall, he added, “I’ve had to take a course off and on for six years. It’s also practical. I have all my certifications.”
The certificates were issued by a company that was criticized in a BBC documentary last year.
The associate advised us on how to circumvent laws that require those breeding multiple litters to apply for a local community license.
He said: “You don’t have to be honest with them. If they’re private pets, they probably won’t ask questions.” K9 Clinics declined to comment when we presented our findings to them.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons said: “Transcervical insemination is a veterinary surgery and must only be performed on dogs by a veterinarian.”
A worker at the Southeast K9 Fertility Clinic in Gravesend, Kent, said it would cost £450 to inseminate four-year-old toy poodle Honey.
When asked over the phone, he appeared to be describing a TCI. After we told him that this should not be done by an unqualified person, he denied that the clinic used this procedure.
He said: “I’m not qualified for this. I only get calls, I’m the helper. That was my mistake and my wrong wording. That’s actually not what’s happening.”
Essex Canine Fertility Services in Basildon promotes artificial insemination for dogs that are unable to mate naturally due to their size.
According to the website, “Insemination is a quick and painless procedure in which fresh sperm is introduced into the uterus either before or directly into the cervix (tci).”
As we approached the clinic, she said she had never done TCIs before, adding, “We will have them [website’s] The wording has been changed as soon as possible as we can now see that this may have/has caused some confusion.”
Most dog fertility clinics in England are run by breeders, not qualified veterinarians, and are unregulated.
Ms Allen said: “They came about on the back of irresponsible breeding – dogs are bred for their looks, not their health. The real health hazard is breeding dogs that shouldn’t be bred.
“If you’re going to insert something into an animal’s body, you need to have the right equipment and know what you’re doing.”
Freak puppies considered ‘novelty’
EXPERTS say the surge in canine fertility clinics has sparked a worrying wave of “Frankenstein puppies.”
This is when dog breeds that can’t reproduce naturally are mated in a lab using artificial insemination to produce crazy-looking puppies.
We announced last month that two breeders who run fertility clinics in Scotland were facing court cases over allegations that they had conducted unregulated veterinary procedures.
One produces hairless bulldogs that sell for up to £40,000 – believed to be a cross between French bulldogs, pugs and Chinese crested dogs.
Another worrying trend that experts across the UK have been observing is the crossing of French bulldogs with giant huskies that are twice their size.
And some clinics are using fertility treatments to create “pocket bulldogs.” This is a tiny version of the American Bulldog that can suffer from nagging mobility issues, having been crossed with other breeds to exaggerate deformities.
Natalie Harney, Campaign Manager at Naturewatch, said: “Hospitals come up with these weird and wonderful combinations to achieve that novelty factor.
“Our concern is people mating dogs with really extreme traits.
“They then create what we would call these Frankensteindogs who are destined to have skin problems, these really flat faces, bulging eyes and stubby legs.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/rise-frankensteindogs-back-street-clinics-26967029 Rise of the Frankensteindogs as backyard clinics breed wacky puppies despite health issues