A devastated dog owner has been faced with a £12,000 vet bill after buying a puppy from a top UK breeder who has been left blind due to being so closely ‘inbred’.
Stephanie Cain, 44, from Sheffield, paid £2,000 for a Neapolitan Mastiff called Delilah in January 2020 from a UK breeder, who is believed to be registered with The Kennel Club.
Ms Cain claimed that Delilah was too closely inbred, which has caused a ‘catalogue’ of life-changing medical problems, which have left the dog blind and seen her faced with a £12,000 vet bill.
Ms Cain, who has rescued dogs for more than 20 years, claimed she spotted a problem with Delilah’s eyes after she paid for her but said she was reassured by the breeder that it was a common problem.
But after taking the eight-week-old pooch to the vets to remove a cherry eye, which occurs when a tear gland in a dog’s third eyelid becomes inflamed, Ms Cain was told Delilah’s eyeball was too small for the socket.
The vet referred Delilah to an eye specialist and Ms Cain said she believes the cause is international father-daughter inbreeding, which she claimed was never disclosed to her.
She said: ‘I have rescued dogs for over 20 years from appalling conditions and Delilah was meant to be my pleasure dog without any of the issues which often come with rescues.
‘I did thorough research and contacted kennel club UK so I genuinely believed I was buying a top quality puppy from a well known and well respected top breeder.’
Delilah, who is now one year old and is nervous in public due to her lack of eyesight, has already had six operations including major reconstructive surgery and may need further operations.
Ms Cain, who is a manager of an airsoft centre, said: ‘She has been through so much unnecessary pain. All her medical problems and extensive surgeries could have been avoided.
She said: ‘She has been through so much unnecessary pain. All her medical problems and extensive surgeries could have been avoided.
She is virtually blind now. She has 30 per cent vision left in her right eye, but there is a chance she may lose that too.
‘Delilah didn’t react well to the operations and she was in a really bad way. Her body rejected the stitches and we didn’t think she was going to live.’
Ms Cain claimed an eye specialist told her the problems were hereditary and alleged that the breeder told her she could ‘swap’ Delilah for a ‘fresh’ dog when confronted.
She continued: ‘When I told the breeder, I was met with nothing but denial and abuse before he eventually told me to bring her back and he would ‘swap ‘it’ for a fresh one out of a future litter, as per his contract.’
But Ms Cain said she was ‘shocked’ by his attitude and declined his offer because she had already bonded with Delilah and did not like that the breeder was allegedly ‘talking about her like she was a broken TV’ and not a ‘sentient animal’.
Ms Cain has already paid out £12,000 in vet bills despite Delilah being fully insured as companies would not cover her for the eye problems.
Insurance firms refused to cover it because the dog’s medical notes logged her earlier cherry eye procedure and said it was an ‘existing medical condition’.
The devastated dog owner has since taken legal advice but has spent her life savings on treatment and cannot afford the legal fees to take the breeder to court.
She claimed the breeder never told her ‘how closely’ Delilah’s father was bred, adding: ‘It is illegal in the UK but legal in Italy where the pups were bred and then brought to the UK and registered.’
Ms Cain also claimed that over the last year, she has tracked down the other pups from the litter and found that five of the puppies died, and one had so many medical problems, the owner was left with no choice but to give her back.
She said: ‘I am so disgusted that he has done this and is still breeding. He needs to be stopped.
‘I discovered that three of the five surviving puppies had similar conditions to Delilah and more puppies in the litter had died.
‘If I had known any of this information beforehand I would never have purchased her.’
Ms Cain, who has set up a GoFundMe for Delilah, said: ‘I just cannot afford the solicitors fees it would take to sue him because I’ve literally spent everything I have on getting her well, along with the other rescues I have.
‘Delilah is just a young dog with a heart of gold and the amount of pain she has suffered and continues to suffer breaks my heart.
‘I want to get Delilah the justice she deserves.’
The Kennel Club said breeders registered with The Kennel Club are Kennel Club Assured Breeders, who must follow specific rules.
It also stated that it is not within its remit to police breeding overseas or puppy imports, but they may cancel a registration if it’s against Kennel Club rules.
A spokesperson for the Kennel Club, said: ‘We do all we can to minimise the chances of owners suffering from the heartache that comes with health problems in their dogs and as such we ban the registration of any litters born as a result of a mating between father and daughter, mother and son or brother and sister.
‘Any breach of these rules would be investigated and appropriate action would be taken if we are provided with details and evidence.
‘Not all overseas Kennel Clubs have the same rules and whilst the parents of this dog were not closely related, it is not within our remit to police the historic matings that are in an overseas dog’s ancestry, when registering an imported dog.
‘In addition to banning the registration of litters from close matings we also provide transparent information to puppy buyers about inbreeding coefficients and health test results for all puppies, so that puppy buyers can make the very best puppy buying decisions.
‘It should be noted that the Kennel Club registers puppy births rather than breeders, with the exception of those who are part of its Assured Breeder Scheme, and all members of this scheme follow rules to protect the health and welfare of their puppies which includes following the ban on close matings.’