Meet the pets behind the PawsFirst campaign

Ozzy the cat was a victim of pet aggression

Ginger tom Ozzy was relaxing on his front garden wall when a passing dog launched a ferocious attack on him. Owner Hayley heard the noise and rushed out of the house, just in time to see Ozzy escape and flee in terror.

Fearing the worst, Hayley launched a full-scale search with help from her family and the community but to no avail. Thirty six hours later, Ozzy appeared close to home but barely alive. He was taken to Liverpool (Huyton) PDSA Pet Hospital, where vets said his injuries were so severe they don’t know how he made it home.

Ozzy’s front leg was badly fractured and he had a very large gash on his front. Vets carried out emergency surgery to repair his injuries, and fitted metal plates in his leg, but the bones just wouldn’t heal properly. There was no choice but to amputate Ozzy’s leg.

Thankfully Ozzy has adapted to life on three legs amazingly well; he now runs and jumps almost as well as he used to. Hayley says that Ozzy’s bravery was clear throughout the whole ordeal, and is incredibly grateful to the PDSA vets and nurses who saved his life.

The PAW Report shows that 465,000 dogs show aggression towards other pets every week. For more help and guidance, visit our Taking Care of Your Pet pages.

Maggie was a victim of the cruel puppy farm trade

Dog lovers Gary and Samantha Crouch, from Fareham, Hants, inadvertently fell victim to the cruel puppy trade when they bought their five-month-old crossbreed puppy, Maggie, who was left fighting for her life.

When searching for a small dog to join their home, they spotted a local online advert. They went to visit the breeder and came home with an adorable bundle of fluff – Maggie, a Pom-Chi (Pomeranian Chihuahua cross).

But just a week after joining her new home, Maggie became dangerously ill; vomiting and passing severe bloody diarrhoea. She was rushed to the vet, which is when the Crouch’s nightmare really began. Maggie’s immune system was failing and the vet suspected she had parvovirus, which can be fatal. She spent the next ten days fighting for her life. Her weight plummeted and she lost the sight in one eye.

Gary said: “We didn’t think we were dealing with a puppy farmer and completely fell for their lies. We paid £350 for Maggie and were told she was nine-weeks-old. We were led to believe she had been well-looked after and socialised. But within days of getting her home, we knew something was wrong: she was very small, clingy and we were having to hand feed her. At first we assumed it was because of her breed and she was just missing her mum.”

To date the family have spent over £4,500 on veterinary treatment for Maggie, who thankfully is on the road to recovery. Tragically, this wasn’t the case for all of Maggie’s littermates: the family traced some of her brothers and sisters who suffered similar problems but sadly did not survive.

Gary added: “The vets believe she was probably only four or five weeks old when we brought her home – far too young to leave her mum. Her parents were also unlikely to have been vaccinated – leaving Maggie without the protection normally passed on from the mum and at very high risk of picking up parvovirus and other serious diseases” The family are now helping to raise awareness of the heartbreak puppy farming can cause: “We were naive. We don’t want other people to be conned in the same way or go through the terrible trauma that we have experienced. We fully support PDSA’s PawsFirst campaign and encourage people to do their research before taking on a pet. I’d definitely encourage people to get expert advice before making impulse buys,” concluded Gary.

Find out more about Maggie’s story on her Facebook page.

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Lucy and Annabelle survived years on a puppy farm

Adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Lucy and Annabelle were adopted by their owner Lisa Garner after enduring years of horrific suffering on puppy farms - churning out litter after litter for profit, with little regard for their health or happiness.

When Lisa rehomed five-year-old Lucy in March 2013 she weighed just 3.5kg, just half her ideal weight. Abandoned by the breeders, she had bald patches, her skin was discoloured and her tiny body was so curved from living in cramped conditions that her back and front legs touched when she stood up. She is also blind in one eye, has severe dry eye and has epilepsy.

Lisa’s other dog, seven-year-old Annabelle, suffered similar abuse before being adopted. She was abandoned at a rescue centre, who had to remove fourteen teeth because they were so rotten from poor diet and lack of dental care. She also had urine-stained paws and a heart murmur.

Lisa said: “Not long after we brought Annabelle home she developed kennel cough and a nasty ear infection, due to a low immune system after years of neglect. Our vet prescribed antibiotics to get her back on her feet. She recovered physically quite quickly, but her mental wellbeing has been much harder to heal. She suffered nightmares and would panic if startled.”

But, thanks to Lisa’s dedication, Lucy and Annabelle now have a safe and loving home. As well as enjoying their new life, they are helping raise awareness of the cruel puppy farm trade.

“I have seen firsthand what these awful puppy farms do to dogs,” said Lisa. “It’s awful for all the dogs involved and the families who suffer the heartache and the high cost of trying to help them. If we can stop fuelling the demand for puppies, then these horrific practices would go out of business. I fully support PDSA’s PawsFirst campaign and encourage people to do their research before taking on any pet. Get expert advice and think it through before taking on a lifetime commitment. And always make sure you buy from a reputable breeder, or adopt from a rescue centre.”

Daisy the Bulldog won the battle with obesity

Bulldog Daisy from Middlesbrough had ballooned to over 28kg (4st 6lbs), making her more than 40 per cent overweight.

Daisy’s passion for extra portions had caused her waistline to expand, along with her preference for hitching a ride over pounding the pavement. Owner Gillian had tried to help her beloved pooch to slim down – even encouraging Daisy to go on a treadmill under her close supervision. But exercise wasn’t Daisy’s thing. When out walking she’d been known to jump into any available car to catch a ride home – hence her family nickname ‘Lazy Daisy’. But after seeking the help of PDSA vets and nurses, and with Gillian’s determination, Daisy lost around 8kg in weight – an impressive 27% of her bodyweight.

Gillian said: “The difference in Daisy is amazing. Losing the weight has really improved her mobility. Before, she struggled to climb the stairs – now she sprints up them! And she has a waist again! I’m so grateful to the vet staff at Middlesbrough PDSA Pet Hospital for their help and guidance, and for how they’ve helped to transform Daisy’s life. I’d encourage any pet owner worried about their pet’s weight to speak to their vet.”

Find out what your pet needs to be healthy and happy.

Rolo is walking the pounds off

Rolo was adopted last December weighing a whopping 15kg (2st 5lb). Previously he had been over-fed, not walked properly and had become morbidly obese. Rolo is now taking part in PDSA Pet Fit Club, as he needs to lose an entire stone (6.5kg) to reach his ideal size.

Described as ‘very food motivated’, Rolo has been known to chase people carrying shopping bags and even follow complete strangers into their home. His favourite trick is to pull at the tablecloth until any food on the table falls to the floor!

Rolo’s new owner, Lydia, immediately put him on a diet. She said: “We thought very carefully about taking on such an overweight pet as we knew it would be a challenge, but Rolo is so loving and adorable we wanted to give him a proper chance at life.

“When we first got him he couldn’t run and could only walk for a few minutes before he got too tired, then he’d just collapse on the floor and I would have to carry him home. Sometimes children would even laugh at him, because he was so fat! He lost a little weight at first but then seemed to plateau, so I entered him into PDSA Pet Fit Club.”

Rolo also needs to have an operation on his eye, but until he loses more weight the risk of going under anaesthetic is too high. Rolo’s diet is being managed by experts at Croydon PDSA Pet Hospital and he is making very good progress.

For more tips on keeping your pets fit, take a look at our pet health advice.