Deadly virus kills eight-week-old puppy hours after Worthing couple buy her

Maggie the golden Labrador puppy died days after her owner Grace Piper from Worthing bought her
Maggie the golden Labrador puppy died days after her owner Grace Piper from Worthing bought her

The heartbroken Worthing owners of a puppy that died hours after they bought it have warned of the dangers of buying a pet.

Grace Piper and her boyfriend James brought Maggie, a golden Labrador crossbreed, back to their home in Ann Street, Worthing, on Wednesday, January 8, after buying her from a breeder.

Maggie the golden Labrador puppy died days after her owner Grace Piper from Worthing bought her

Maggie the golden Labrador puppy died days after her owner Grace Piper from Worthing bought her

But by the evening of January 9, the eight-week-old had died from parvovirus: a highly contagious virus passed through dogs’ faeces that has a high mortality rate without treatment.

It became clear that the puppy and mother had not been vaccinated before they bought her. James, 18, said: “Just be really careful when it comes to buying puppies. Make sure you go to the vets with the breeder to make sure the puppy is fine before taking it home.”

Grace added: “If we were to get another dog, I can’t go through this again.”

The 19-year-old NHS apprentice said when they visited the house after responding to an advert online, they thought all was well. But soon after they got Maggie, she began being sick – but the couple put it down to homesickness, a common phenomenon.

Maggie the golden Labrador puppy died days after her owner Grace Piper from Worthing bought her

Maggie the golden Labrador puppy died days after her owner Grace Piper from Worthing bought her

By the next day, the symptoms worsened to sickness and diarrhoea, so they called the vets, who said to feed her chicken and rice.

At 5.30pm, Grace said: “She collapsed in my arms and fell to the floor and started pouring and squirting blood.”

They rushed her to Grove Lodge Vets, by which time she had stopped breathing. Despite vets giving her CPR, she could not be revived.

Grace said they were in ‘hysterics’ by what had happened and had reported the incident to the RSPCA and shared their story on Facebook in a post that was shared thousands of times.She said: “These people need to not be able to breed dogs whatsoever. Obviously they don’t care about the animals.

“It is just horrifying.”

A vet from the surgery that treated Maggie has given advice to potential dog owners.

Nicola Bromley, clinical director at Grove Lodge, said it was important to ask the breeder to see vaccination certificates for the puppy before buying them, and to ‘have a conversation about healthcare’.

She said: “Reputable breeders will be happy to show you these things, and give you insurance for the the first few weeks.

“If they aren’t focusing on this, or say they will bring the puppy to you, it rings alarm bells.

“Owners should be vetting you as much as you are vetting them.”

She said other telltale signs you are buying from a puppy farm – where unscrupulous breeders constantly breed dogs solely for profit – is if you do not see the puppy with its mother or if there have lots of different breeds of puppies in the house.

It the breeder offers to meet you with the puppy at a motorway service station rather than inviting you to see the dog at their home in its usual surroundings, this is another sign.

If you think your puppy has parvovirus, Nicola said to get it to the vets as soon as possible.

A spokesman for the RSCPA said: “We’re aware of this but, unfortunately, we can’t discuss complaints related to specific people or addresses and what action may have been taken.

“Sadly, we hear stories like Maggie’s all too often. This is why we urge people to be extremely careful when buying puppies from breeders.”