Irish society needs to 'look in the mirror' over attitude to pets, says vet

Tim Kirby worries that the new trend for 'aesthetic designer dogs' is causing huge behavioural problems.
Irish society needs to 'look in the mirror' over attitude to pets, says vet

Louise Walsh

A veterinary surgeon who founded a website to inform and educate people before owning a puppy, says Irish society 'should take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror' in their attitude and approach to finding a new pet.

Tim Kirby worries that the new trend for 'aesthetic designer dogs' is causing huge behavioural problems, which will increase due to cross-breeding of 'totally unsuitable varieties.'

The Kerry native, who is behind the award-winning PetBond platform, is now appealing for more regulations in the industry

PetBond offers new dog owners the chance to meet a healthy puppy from an approved breeder, after being guided step-by-step through their decision.

The site only features puppies from PetBond approved breeders or registered rescue centres, who are at least eight weeks old and both healthy and properly socialised.

"The new designer breeds include Maltipoos or Shitzipoos and even a "Pomsky" - a cross between a Pomeranian and a Husky, these expensive breeds are being already surrendered because of behavioural problems," Mr Kirby explained.

"When you think about it, in the case of a Pomsky, you are mixing a small, sedentary house dog with a huge, strong outdoor working dog - the cross doesn't have any meaningful identity as such.

"They may command huge prices, but they are all fictional breeds in my mind, often bred by artificial insemination in unregulated clinics by lay people.

"PetBond doesn't support such cross-breeds as we believe it is detrimental to the health and welfare of dogs, and the species itself long term.

"It's a poor reflection of sectors in our society who are buying these dogs purely based on aesthetics and looks and nothing else," he added.

I set up the website at the start of 2019 because I was repeatedly seeing sick and dying puppies being brought into me after being bought from classified ads websites.

"New owners collected the puppies in a carpark or a random address where the breeders were thereafter often not contactable.

"In many cases the puppies were churned out from large breeding units just as another commodity, and all freely advertised on Irish classified ads websites.

"These puppies were sick because they weren't vaccinated or if so, it was a DIY job, not by a vet. Or they are taken from their mother's too early and suffer because they are not weaned humanely."

'Antidote' to stress and pressure

According to Mr Kirby, PetBond allows new pet parents to enjoy the whole pet finding process in a "friendly and non-judgemental way" while understanding what is involved with owning a dog.

PetBond matches the right pet with the right people, he explained.

"We do not allow puppy farmers to use our site, and many reputable breeders associated with us actually refused to breed pups during the pandemic because they are caring and loving breeders," Mr Kirby said.

"The Covid-19 lockdowns seemed like an extended Christmas in many ways for people acquiring new puppies.

"Adults and children were locked in at home for hours on end, and for many, the perfect antidote to the stresses and pressures of such an environment was to add a puppy to the homestead".

"We now need to reflect and learn by asking ourselves if such an approach is really in the best interests of the puppy?

"To this day, we still see people who are willing to collect puppies from industrial scale breeders and not be bothered about the life the puppy has had to that point, or even more importantly the mother of the puppies.

"These poor animals are commercial slaves, and the public demand keeps the supply. Irish classified ads websites proudly encourage and support these miserable and unfortunate pets.

"Do the public really care?" he concluded.

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