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Battersea shines light on backstreet breeding, tonight on ITV

Tonight on ITV, Battersea Dogs & Cats Homes will be highlighting the cruel reality of backstreet breeding, to get people to think twice about how and where they buy a dog.

Two-year-old Parsnip, will be one of the stars of tonight's episode of Paul O'Grady: For the Love of Dogs. The Pug was brought to Battersea as a stray and had large, swollen teats when she arrived. Battersea vets realised Parsnip had been a victim of backstreet breeding and had given birth to multiple litters.

Parsnip was still producing milk at the time, leading vets to suspect she had given birth just a week before. As a result, she developed a painful case of mastitis which required medical treatment.

Parsnip's case is sadly not uncommon. A report released last year by Battersea showed 88 per cent of puppies in the UK were born to unlicensed breeders. Battersea launched its campaign to end backstreet breeding in 2015 and the Government has since consulted on important changes to legislation to protect dogs.

Dogs used in this cruel practice often lead terrible lives in cramped conditions, and are forced to give birth over and over again before being dumped. Dogs bred through backstreet breeding can also suffer, and arrive at Battersea with severe medical issues from excessive inbreeding and socialisation.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Veterinary Director Shaun Opperman said, "We see the heart-breaking consequences of backstreet breeding every single day. We were pleased to see the Government respond to our campaign with proposals to reduce the numbers of litters a breeder can produce without a licence each year, and to close loopholes to prevent puppies being removed from their mothers before they are eight weeks old. We are now urging the Government to publish the final regulations so that this can become law as soon as possible.

"Anyone thinking of getting a dog can also do their bit to help end backstreet breeding by buying from a reputable, licensed breeder or adopting a rescue dog."

See Parsnip on Paul O'Grady: For the Love of Dogs tonight at 8:30pm on ITV.