A friend of mine has this friend.... and no I'm not talking about me having an embarrassing problem I can't admit too - this is a genuine case of a second generation problem! I've never met this friend of a friend but have heard lots of about her. My friend is a bit of an angel and is always trying to sort this other woman's life out. To help the kids and save them from the chaos that usually surrounds them. Take them out at weekends, feed them, show them a different life.
I hate to come over all stuffy and judgmental, but I need to set the scene.
Think small house, think five kids between 3 years and 15 - some her's, some his, some their's. One of the kids has a social services protection order on it to stop his parents beating him up.
Surprisingly nice kids, just a bit wild. Eldest has started running away from home and school.
They have two dogs - both Labs. The female not much more than a pup.
There was a sort of plan to breed from these two dogs in the future - mum says she wanted to KC reg them - presumably to get more money from selling the pups. Money is very tight in this household.
Their previous Lab was put to sleep as it got hip dysplasia and they couldn't afford to treat it. Both current Labs are untested for all health conditions because they "cannot afford it".
The plan was not to have pups until the mum was over a year old - so when she came into season they told the dogs not to mate whenever they saw the male dog mounting. The two dogs sleep together unsupervised. Not much of a plan.
The Lab bitch started to put weight on a few weeks after the season.
As doggie friend of a friend I was asked how you tell if a bitch is pregnant.
I send back the message that's its time to go to the vet.
He scans and finds four heart beats.
There's not much space in the house, so they decide to put a stair gate across the front lobby and only use the back door in future. That the Lab can give birth by the front door. They look on ebay for a whelping box - but decide they can't afford one. So they'll just use the existing dog bed - a small hard plastic one.
The plan is to sell the pups on the net and in the local free papers. The friend in common is already getting pressure from her son to buy one of the pups when they are born. She lives in a first floor flat. She can't afford pet insurance, but she fears that when the pups are born the pester pressure will be too great.
What do I say?
I said a lot. A reality check on rearing puppies in a tiny porch with five kids for a start.
I suggested Labrador Rescue taking mum before the pups are born and managing the whole thing so these poor innocent mites find safe homes where the process won't repeat.
But would they let them have mum back afterwards friend of friend asks? To have a 'planned' litter next season. Would they give any of the money from selling the pups?
I just know these people are not going to accept any help, that the lure of the dosh and the pseudo excitement of having pups is too great.
I fast forward to pups being four weeks old if they survive that long - stair gate proving useless. The smell, the noise in that already crowded house.
How do we stop this happening - when it can by just two moves away from me, someone who campaigned for 20 plus years against just breeding for dosh without doing any tests.
And if she shifts the four little unregisterable ones, the next litter is going to be KC reg and worth even more money - who knows she'll probably go for Accredited Breeder status.
It's depressing isn't it.
We're launching our Furry Godmother service in the next magazine.
Wish I could wave my magic wand and get those two Labs out of that house now!