Battersea shines the spotlight on backstreet breeding in tonight’s episode of Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs


Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is urging people to think about how and where they buy a dog, as this week’s episode of Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs on ITV highlights the cruel reality of backstreet breeding.   

One of the stars of the episode is two-year-old Pug Parsnip, who was brought into Battersea as a stray. 

Parsnip had large, swollen teats and Battersea’s vets realised this young girl had already given birth to multiple litters and was likely to have been a victim of backstreet breeding.

Parsnip was still producing milk when she came in, leading vets to suspect she may have given birth to a litter of puppies in the week before she arrived at the Home. As a consequence, Parsnip developed a painful case of mastitis that required medical treatment. 

Her story shines the light on Battersea’s campaign to end backstreet breeding as, sadly, cases like this are all too common. 

Dogs used for backstreet breeding often lead terrible lives. They are frequently kept in cramped and uncomfortable conditions and many are rarely exercised. Forced to give birth to litter after litter, these dogs are often dumped and come into rescue centres like Battersea as strays in a terrible state.

The dogs bred through these practices can also suffer, and many arrive at the Home with severe medical issues from excessive inbreeding. Puppies receive little or no proper socialisation, which can lead to lifelong welfare problems.

In 2015 the charity launched a campaign to end backstreet breeding. Following this campaign, the Government has consulted on important changes to legislation which will help to protect dogs. 

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Veterinary Director Shaun Opperman said: “We see the heart-breaking consequences of backstreet breeding every single day. We were pleased to see the Government respond to our campaign with proposals to reduce the numbers of litters a breeder can produce without a licence each year, and to close loopholes to prevent puppies being removed from their mothers before they are eight weeks old. We are now urging the Government to publish the final regulations so that this can become law as soon as possible.

“Anyone thinking of getting a dog can also do their bit to help end backstreet breeding by buying from a reputable, licensed breeder or adopting a rescue dog.”

Unfortunately, a report released last year by Battersea shows that 88 per cent of puppies in the UK are born to unlicensed breeders. There are huge discrepancies in both the number of licensed breeders across different Local Authorities and the quality of enforcement of welfare standards around breeders. 

Viewers of the programme tonight can see how Parsnip’s story unfolds tonight at 8:30pm on ITV. 

Notes to editors  

  • Backstreet breeding is the unregistered, unlicensed and unauthorised practice of breeding dogs in an indiscriminate and irresponsible way.
  • Visit to show your support for the campaign.
  • Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help.  We reunite lost dogs and cats with their owners through our Lost Dogs & Cats Line or care for them until new homes can be found for them, giving them shelter and the highest standards of kennelling and veterinary care.  
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats. 
  • The Home cares for around 8000 dogs and cats each year. 
  • Battersea cares for an average of 260 dogs and 220 cats across its three centres at any one time. 
  • Last year 27 per cent of the dog that arrived at Battersea were strays.