BERNESE PURCHASED FROM OVERSEAS PRESENT A
NEW CHALLENGE TO BREED RESCUE
The demands made upon many breed specific rescues is a reasonably accurate reflection of what is
happening more widely within a breed. Trends come and go and intake numbers may vary from
year to year but any reduction in intake of Bernese Mountain Dogs in the UK is unlikely to reflect that
fewer dogs became unwanted - it's more likely that owners disposed of their unwanted dogs in
Breeders and sellers of Bernese need to be selective as to who they may consider selling to and
whether the dog they offer for sale or for rehoming is specifically suited to the enquirers abilities and circumstances. Too many potential owners of Bernese "just want one", often ignoring important information and shunning relevant advice and when they make contact with a breeder whose
priority is to achieve a sale, the odds of an ideal, permanent home being the outcome for the unfortunate
dog in the midst of the careless transaction are not great. Some breeders and buyers do endeavour to
take the time and trouble to consider all aspects before agreeing to a sale, but far too many don't and
that really needs to change.
Breeding dogs, specifically Bernese, as well as owning and living with even a single dog is a HUGE
commitment of time, energy and expense at the very least, and failure to employ common sense should
not be something that is accepted nor condoned. Of course, those who acquire a Bernese are
responsible for their choices and actions but breeding Bernese seems very easy to some who embark
upon it just because they can, but the breeder/seller is the one who makes the ultimate decision as to
who they sell and/or entrust their dogs and puppies to. It is commonly advised "Don't breed if you don't rescue" and so it really is about time that those who choose to exploit the financial advantages of
dog breeding whilst simultaneously sidestepping their responsibilities should clean up their act and
provide a pro-active, efficient after-sales service.
In an ideal world Bernese breeders would and should be willing to provide an after-sales service to
ensure the well-being of all dogs they breed and that includes taking back and assuming responsibility
for dogs they have bred; some breeders include such a statement in their puppy sales contract. But
those contracts are usually merely a gesture of intent and goodwill - whether the buyer or seller chooses
to abide by those written words is another thing. If a breeder doesn't make an effort to maintain contact
with those who buy their puppies it is no surprise that some owners who seek help in rehoming their dog
look elsewhere because their experience is "the breeder isn't interested." And some breeders, by default, couldn't demonstrate that any clearer.
And now there is another source of Bernese and owners who may need assistance from the UK rescue organisations. Changes to the UK Pet Travel Scheme came into operation in January 2012. Previously
all dogs brought into Britain needed to undergo six months quarantine at an approved facility in the UK
or to be vaccinated against Rabies whilst overseas and then six months later be subjected to a further
blood test to ensure the anti-rabies vaccine provided protection. Only then could the dog be granted a
Pet Passport, allowing them to enter the UK. The new regulations were much more relaxed, dogs
needing to be vaccinated against Rabies a mere 21 days before being eligible for a Pet Passport.
This new legislation provided a new opportunity for young puppies to enter the UK.
Almost immediately the Internet was flooded with adverts placed by overseas breeders and dealers,
keen to take advantage of the "dog loving British" with money to spend and eager to acquire a new dog
with minimal effort via mail order. It was simplicity itself for those of that mindset; the purchase being
completed by money transfer and the puppy being delivered on a designated date to a collecting point
in the UK.
There have been several TV programmes highlighting the fast-growing trade of imported puppies into the
UK; some are shipped in by the van or lorry-load, sometimes in appalling conditions and there are also
fears that some have been imported illegally with forged documentation. There is minimal contact
between seller and buyer; the buyer doesn't meet the breeder, failing to inspect where the puppies have
been bred, nor handle and examine the parents or other close relatives of the puppy they have been
allotted or perhaps chosen from photographs. The undue haste and lack of caution in purchasing a pup
from an exporter who is happy to ship their unfortunate puppies by the batch load overseas seems to
override any common sense nor interest in quality and so we should not be surprised that this online
trading opportunity has already resulted in some of these recklessly purchased, imported Bernese
puppies being rejected by their owners and needing help from Bernese Welfare UK.
An added consequence will be that some of those who have purchased imports in this casual manner
will no doubt go on to breed from them as their purchases are "new blood" BUT IT IS A FACT THAT LOCATION OF BIRTH IS NOT DEFINITIVE OF QUALITY AND BERNESE LACKING QUALITY
ARE NOT TRUE BERNESE AND SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR BREEDING! Any such
opportunist, novice Bernese breeder who decides to jump aboard the gravy-train and use the imported
status of their breeding stock as a puppy-sales 'accolade' will likely NOT have benefited from
mentoring over time by a knowledgeable, reputable breeder (no reputable breeder would sell a
pup via the internet to a buyer they don't know and hadn't previously met!) One can only
speculate, and fear, the probability that the next generation of purchasers of THEIR pups will likely
not receive appropriate guidance and advice.
And so the cycle of the "easy-money-cash-crop" continues and we face an ongoing likelihood
of future generations of Bernese originating from online sellers located overseas, becoming
displaced in the UK.
Thankfully there are dedicated, caring Bernese breeders who have integrity and commitment to the breed
and these serve as a good example to others who aspire to learn good practice and do the best they
can. All of us who care about Bernese must continue to try to encourage inexperienced buyers and
novice breeders to seek appropriate guidance and advice from reliable sources which will in turn
improve the prospects of more Bernese enjoying a long, happy relationship with their owners and a
permanent, loving and comfortable home during their lifetime. Anything less will only result in an
escalation of Bernese experiencing disruption and upheaval and seeking refuge with the help of
compassionate, selfless folk who actively rescue.
Find out more about the rescue, refuge and rehoming of Bernese in the UK by visiting the website of
Bernese Welfare UK www.bernesewelfare.btck.co.uk