Sad-eyed Maggie was only given a number not a name by breeders (Image: Battersea Dogs and Cats Home)
When the valuable Dogue de Bordeaux was finally saved after her tragic ordeal, a microchip check revealed she had been listed as "Puppy Number Five". Her heartless anonymity and the way she was found tied up to railings in a pitiful state only compound fears she was a victim of the £100 million a year backstreet puppy production lines exploiting dog lovers. As National Puppy Day is marked this weekend, dog welfare campaigners are highlighting the tragic two year old pedigree’s tragic story to remind potential owners of the way animals are used by unscrupulous dealers.
Puppy Number Five has now been given the name of Maggie and is living with loving owners after being rescued by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
Yet when Maggie was found tied to railings in south west London she was covered in sores, had both ear and eye infections, dental problems and her mammary glands were swollen. The fact she did not have a name but only a number raises further suspicions she had only ever been a puppy machine rather than a cherished pet.
Battersea Centre Manager Steve Craddock said today: “When she was rescued, Maggie was in a terrible state. Her sores and overgrown nails indicated that she’d spent a lot of her life in cramped conditions, and her swollen mammary glands suggested she’d had at least two litters of puppies.
“For such a young dog to have spent the first years of their life being bred from and then carelessly discarded is truly heart breaking.”
Maggie the Dogue to Bordeaux was known as Puppy Five (Image: Battersea Dogs and Cats Home)
Maggie was discovered tied to railings in a poor condition (Image: Battersea Dogs and Cats Home)
The magnificent Dogue de Bordeaux has become increasingly popular breed in the UK after achieving fame in the Tom Hanks’ film, Turner and Hooch, but having celebrity status can create animal welfare nightmares.
Only last week the RSPCA warned of the wave of “designer breeds” now flooding into its rescue centres as star struck owners take on highly fashionable French bulldogs, dachshunds and Chihuahuas pictured with celebrities but soon discover they are not capable of looking after them. After the Kennel Club declared the French bulldog the nation’s most popular breed in the countdown to Crufts earlier this month, subsequent figures released by the RSPCA revealed how the charity had witnessed a 517 per cent increase in the number of “Frenchies" coming into its care over the past three years.
New Government regulations aimed at controlling the mass production of puppies for gain with the knock on effect of poor welfare standards have been welcomed by campaigners. Breeders producing three or more litters a year will need to have a licence and also show they meet basic welfare standards.
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Maggie shows the signs of having a litter of puppies (Image: Battersea Dogs and Cats Home)
Tom Hanks played opposite a Dogue de Bordeaux in Turner and Hooch (Image: GETTY)
Battersea hopes that with National Puppy Day being marked on March 23, stories like Maggie’s will soon be confined to history.
Mr Craddock added: “We hope these new regulations will help put an end to unscrupulous breeding practices. We know that there are dogs just like Maggie all over the UK, who have been forced to produce multiple litters over and over again until they are carelessly dumped when they’re no longer of use.
“If you are thinking of getting a new dog it’s important do your research. Make sure you go to a reputable breeder and see the puppies with their mother first. Even better, visit your local rescue centre. There are hundreds and thousands of rescue dogs across the UK who are looking for a second chance of happiness, many of them still under two years old. Rehoming a rescue dog is so rewarding and you will be given advice and support to ensure you take home exactly the right pet for you.”