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Warning after Blue Cross saves puppy sold online

A family of first-time dog owners are warning other animal lovers about the dangers of buying pets online after their new puppy was rushed to hospital.

Mona Al-Rifai agreed to buy gorgeous husky puppy Shadow after her son, Daniel, aged 13, saved his pocket money for two and a half years to buy the companion he had always wanted. Daniel found what he thought would be his perfect pup on a classified advertising website and pointed the cute dog out to his mum.

But within hours of bringing him home, eight-week-old Shadow became sick.

The new owners kept a close eye on Shadow and tried to make sure he was eating and drinking enough, but one morning, just days later, Mona found Shadow collapsed on the floor. Devastated, she rushed him to our Victoria animal hospital in central London for emergency treatment.

“My son was crying,” said Mona. “We were really worried about Shadow and very upset.”

Shadow was suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea, which can cause severe dehydration if left untreated and is seriously dangerous for a young pup.

“Mona did exactly the right thing by bringing Shadow to us when she did,” said Seb Prior, Blue Cross Vet. “Young puppies are particularly vulnerable to dehydration and can need urgent veterinary help when they show signs of gastroenteritis.”

We ran tests to see what the underlying cause of Shadow’s illness might be, and put him on a drip to make sure he got the fluids and minerals he needed to stay alive. Once he was well enough, we encouraged him to eat little and often to build his strength back up.

Thankfully, Shadow responded well to his treatment and was well enough to go home after two nights of dedicated care from our vets and nurses.

Doting mum Mona had made the 400-mile return trip from London all the way to Manchester to buy Shadow for Daniel.

My son had saved up all his pocket money for a long, long time to get him. All that time I’ve suggested he might like to spend his pocket money on some sweets or other things, but he would always say ‘No, I’ve got to save for my husky’. He showed me a photo of him on the internet, and I didn’t want to let him down.” Owner, Mona Al-Rifai

She met Shadow’s seller at a train station, and was shocked when the seller simply handed the puppy over to her, took payment and left without saying goodbye or giving any advice to the new dog owner.

Mona said: “It was really strange because she wasn’t sad to see him go and didn’t even say goodbye. To be honest I didn’t have any experience and I didn’t know anything about getting a pet. I thought she might help but she wasn’t very helpful at all.”

Because she had never owned a dog before, Mona had lots of questions for the seller about how to look after the new family pet, but the seller didn’t stick around to answer them.

The seller had told Mona that she could meet both of Shadow’s parents when they first spoke on the phone, but when Mona met the eight-week-old pup the seller revealed that Shadow’s mum and dad weren’t available to be seen.

Responsible dog breeders will ask a buyer lots of questions before letting you take a puppy home, and will be happy to let you see the litter with the mother. They will also be able to give you a medical history for your puppy and details of their vet so you can ask any questions you have about the dog’s health. Anyone who volunteers to deliver a puppy to your home, or meet you somewhere like a train station or motorway service station should be avoided.

Mona and Daniel now want to warn other brand new pet owners to get advice before buying a pet online to avoid heartache.

“It was horrible to see him so ill,” said Mona. “We are so happy to have Shadow back home and he’s so much better. We’ve never seen him so active! I hope our story will make other people thinking of buying a puppy to be really careful and do their research first.”

— Page last updated 20/07/2016