Milo’s Story: Puppy Survivor

A Pomeranian from Glasgow has been selected as a finalist in PDSA’s national Pet Survivor 2019 competition. Milo was a victim of puppy farming, leaving him blind and at risk of complete paralysis due to spinal deformities.

Milo -Pomeranian puppy survivor

He defied the odds by surviving risky surgery, which then required intensive care and months of dedicated nursing and recovery from his owners. He is now up against five other miracle pets, each with their own death-defying tales of survival, in a public vote.

Many people may be tempted this year to get a puppy, kitten or other pet for Christmas. They may also  unwittingly be lured into purchasing a young pet from an unauthorised puppy breeder.

Christine Grahame MSP has secured Scottish Parliament time to introduce a member’s Bill: Responsible Breeding and Ownership of Dogs (Scotland) Bill.

The UK Government has issued statutory guidance on the licensing of animal activities for local authorities. In England these must be applied by  licensed breeders and inspected by the local authority.

All areas, equipment and appliances to which the animals have access must present minimal risks of injury, illness and escape. They must be constructed in materials that are robust, safe and durable, in a good state of repair and well maintained

In 2020 The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 will come into effect.

The plans to tighten up laws around selling pets and breeding dogs will make it completely illegal to sell puppies younger than eight weeks and require anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year to apply for a formal licence. Irresponsible breeders who don’t stick to these rules face an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in prison.

Milo’s story

Little Milo was bred by puppy farmers who prioritise profit over welfare, and leave many puppies and their parents suffering from ongoing health problems.

When the Weir family from Glasgow decided to add a puppy to their family, they thought they’d done everything right. However, Naomi and her mum were tricked with a pretend mum and dad, and very soon after bringing little Milo home they noticed things weren’t right.

Milo seemed very clumsy and was constantly bumping into things. At Sandyhills Vets in Glasgow they advised he had a hereditary eye problem. Sadly there was no cure so Milo would eventually lose his sight. The poor puppy adapted well to going blind, however much worse was still to come.

The little Pomeranian, still just eight months old at the time, started frequently crying in pain. X-rays revealed a very concerning cause – his neck bones were badly deformed and out of place. They were in danger of severing his spinal cord – one wrong turn of his head and he could’ve been completely paralysed.

Milo was referred to specialists at Vet Extra Neurology, based at Broadleys Veterinary Hospital in Stirling. He needed urgent spinal surgery – it was a risky procedure but, without it, Milo was a ticking time bomb and often in severe pain. It was a more complex operation than first thought – it took around six hours for vets to correct his spine, and fit plates and screws to hold his vertebrae in place.

Milo's x-ray showing the plates and screws in his neck

Milo’s x-ray showing the plates and screws in his neck

Milo was able to go home a few days afterwards, but needed very strict cage rest while he healed. His family had a rota to make sure someone was always home with him, and after several weeks they gradually and carefully increased his activity levels again.

Jacques Penderis, European Specialist in Veterinary Neurology, said:

“Milo needed a lengthy operation to correct his spinal deformity, but has made an excellent recovery. He is such a lovely happy dog, and his owner was completely dedicated to his care – PDSA could not have picked more deserving finalists for Pet Survivor.”

Milo is now back to running around and able to enjoy life. He does still have some shoulder and hip problems, so may need further surgery, but for now he’s comfortable and pain-free.

It’s believed that Milo is one of the few survivors from these cruel puppy farmers, with many having suffered parvovirus and other illnesses.

Naomi Weir said:

“We reported what happened and we now know exactly what to look out for when buying a puppy in future. We wouldn’t change Milo for the world, but I don’t ever want to put another dog through what he’s had to go through. If they’d done the right health checks on the parents and not bred from unhealthy dogs, this might all have been prevented.”

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