TORONTO – Wendy Fox and her children wanted a bulldog breed as a family pet so badly that they would do anything to get one and in October 2012 that wish became a reality.
“My daughter and I went and picked her up, we were in love with her as soon as we saw her,” said Fox. “She was so cute.”
The York, Ontario mother purchased their 12-week-old female bulldog Charlie for $1400 from Canada Bulldogs.
The Fox family heard of the company through Kijiji, checked out its website and thought it looked good.
“Met Michael in Oakville to pick up Charlie, took her to the family vet on Monday,” said Fox. “She got the clear that everything looked ok.”
But a month later, the Fox family started to notice that Charlie was developing health problems.
“She went from playing around with the other dogs to laying on the floor and she was vomiting white phlegm,” said Fox.
A second trip to the veterinarian confirmed their worst fears. Charlie was diagnosed with an enlarged esophagus, which is believed to be a birth defect, narrow nostrils, a soft palette, and swollen lymph nodes on her legs.
“Whether it was just the nose or the throat or any one of those, they’re genetic,” Fox said. “If any of those were found in the mother or father, they shouldn’t be breeding them.”
So far the Fox family says it has paid close to $10,000 in veterinarian bills and Global News has learned they are not the only ones who say they have purchased unhealthy bulldogs from the same company.
A family in Calgary had a similar issue with their puppy they bought in December 2011.
Stacey, who did not want to reveal her last name, purchased their dog Georgia from Perfect Bulldog Puppies (PBP), a company affiliated with Canada Bulldogs, and noticed problems within four hours of bringing her home.
“She went pee about 40 times in the first four hours so I figured she had a bladder infection, and she had diarrhea really bad, her belly was really bloated,” she said.
After confirmation of health problems from a veterinarian, Stacey says her attempt to get a refund was quickly denied.
“He told me not to call him again, she was our responsibility and if I contacted him again he would call the police,” Stacey said.
After nursing Georgia back to health, Stacey sold the bulldog to an interested buyer and informed them of the problems she had with her.
“A breeder should be in it for the love of the dog and not for the money. So it’s really frustrating, it’s heart breaking,” she said.
Global News discovered that PBP, a business that currently no longer exists, was the same company as Canada Bulldogs and both are considered brokers, not breeders.
A quick search on the internet shows a picture of some unhappy owners, several upset over what they say were unknown hidden health conditions of the animals at the time of purchase.
“I was horrified, I don’t know if I’m naive but I didn’t think people would in good conscience breed any animals, knowing they had any genetic defects,” said Fox.
Global News contacted the owner of Canada Bulldogs by telephone, Dmitry Kaledin, who insists the dogs they sell are healthy.
“Not even once that happened…that we have not responded to the person that comes to us with a problem that fell into the guarantee,” Kaledin said.
The company policy states that bulldog owners are required to sign a health guarantee at the time of purchase.
“People are asking to pay the bills for the dogs that are sick regardless of whether it was sick of genetics or something and then obviously we say I’m sorry,” said Kaledin. “We have nothing to do with this problem. You bought a dog. It got sick. That is natural.”
Kaledin also explained why buyers are not allowed to see the puppies’ parents on site.
“We don’t have a puppy mill or place, certain particular place that we do all our breeding. We have a partnership with people that sell our puppies. Few around Canada…I wouldn’t go into a particular number.”
Kaledin also confirmed that he changed the name of PBP to Canada Bulldogs.
“We made the re-branding. I thought Canada Bulldogs sounds better in Canada. There is some correlation between the name and the country we’re proudly doing our business,” he said.
Bulldog experts say it’s abnormal for these breeds to consistently have health problems as described by Wendy Fox and Stacey.
“It’s not normal for a breeder to produce lots of issues and it’s certainly not normal for a puppy to have multiple issues,” said Mark Berryman, president of the Bulldog Club of Central Canada.
Berryman also warns future bulldog owners to make informed purchases by either visiting the breeder’s home, seeing at least one of the parents and making sure the puppies are clean.
“I never heard of brokers before. I didn’t even realize that even happened,” said Fox.
The Fox family went public with their story with the hope that somehow this will lead to a change in the way dogs are bred and sold in Canada.
“I definitely wouldn’t have purchased from them if I had known what I know now,” said Fox.
Global Toronto will air Part Two of this story on the News Hour at 5:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, including an exclusive interview with a former bulldog broker with Perfect Bulldog Puppies and tips on buying from reputable breeders.
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