A woman from North Lanarkshire has been left “traumatised” after her new puppy died just 24 hours after being welcomed into her home.
Nicola Stevenson, 27, paid £750 for a cocker spaniel on Gumtree as a surprise gift for her partner who had just been discharged from hospital.
However, just twenty minutes after being dropped off at her house in Bellshill by two woman sellers, who insisted on bringing the dog to ensure it was going to a good home, the female puppy started to act “lifeless”.
The couple took the animal to the vet, along with the veterinary card they had been provided with which stated it was healthy – where they were told the card was fake and the dog was “super sick” after testing positive for parvovirus.
Ms Stevenson told STV News: “She just seemed so lifeless 20 minutes after we got her.
“She could barely keep her head up, and didn’t eat. She was sick quite a lot and one point she brought up a worm and she couldn’t pass a proper stool. It was pure liquid and smelt so metallic because of the blood.
“The vet said she was super sick right away. They had taken the vet card to another colleague and they agreed it was fake after googling it.
“They said they heavily thought she was an Irish import and tested her for parvo.
“After it came back positive she gave me two options, as I couldn’t take her back home.
“Either euthanise her or rush her to Lanark pet hospital to help her. We gave her the option of survival and within an hour they said her blood work was incredibly poor.
“Her white blood cells didn’t exist and it was that of a bad cancer patient.”
The dog, which had not been named, was put down and the couple were informed by the vet that it was the second import they had treated that week.
Ms Stevenson, who reached out to the sellers but was ignored, posted a picture online of the two women involved – only to be contacted by six people who had been through the same experience.
She added: “When she passed they said this is the second import this week they’ve seen.
“I tried to contact the sellers and they ignored me.
“I put a post online to see if anyone recognised them and within 24 hours I had six people come forward saying they were victims of the same people or very similar situations and I’ve woken up today to even more.
“We’re devastated, it was a total rollercoaster of emotions within about 48 hours.
“It was really traumatising.”
Clyde Veterinary Group, who treated the dog, said they could not find the name of the vet provided online and believe the actions of the sellers was illegal.
A spokesperson said: “The person that sold this puppy will have sold under other names and addresses to lots of other people. The practice on the vet card given is one we’ve never heard of and after some quick research we find that there isn’t a practice with that name.
“A vet card should be pre-printed but this was stamped.
“They’ll fill the back of a van with dozens of these puppies, bring them here and have them on Gumtree within 24 hours. They’ll spread them to different addresses to make it seem as though they are coming from a home environment.
“Puppies will be sold from these homes and they’ll go back and get more. It’s far more lucrative to do this than sell other illegal items and the penalties for those caught are very minor.”
The SSPCA declined to comment due to an ongoing investigation.
Last month, a major law enforcement report about Scotland’s multi-million-pound illegal puppy farming industry warned of the dangers of purchasing dogs online.
Up to one in four buyers could be purchasing a dog reared in appalling conditions by those who use online platforms, particularly Gumtree, free ads and Pets4Homes, to make the trades.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received a report on Friday, December 9, relating to the theft of a puppy in the Bellshill area.
“Officers have attended and the matter has been established as civil with no criminality established at this time.
“Any further information provided will be assessed.”