When Bueller the 8-week-old American Bulldog pup first showed up at the Sacramento SPCA, he was in bad shape.
Bueller suffers from Swimmer’s Syndrome, meaning he has trouble standing or walking because his legs are too weak.
The breeder who left him with the SPCA said the entire litter Bueller came from had it, but all the puppies except for Bueller had managed to correct the problem.
“The exact cause isn't known yet, but we do know there is a genetic component to it, and it has a lot to do with the breed and the breeding,” said Laurie Siperstein-Cook, the chief of shelter medicine at the Sacramento SPCA.
One of her colleagues, Gina Knepp, who manages the Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento, believes Bueller’s story is an all too familiar one.
“A really good breeder never ends up bringing their unwanted or medically unsound offspring to a shelter,” Knepp said.
She says the proof is on the Internet, where Knepp routinely scrolls through post after post on both Facebook and Craigslist and finds what she calls "an epidemic" of backyard breeders out to make a quick buck.
“The sick ones are either adopted by an unsuspecting person, who usually ends up here, or they bring us the unwanted ones,” Knepp said.
One way you can check to see if a breeder is legitimate is by checking to see if both parent dogs are licensed. It is required by law, so if the breeder can’t produce the proper records, chances are they are an illegal breeder.
The Sacramento SPCA has a donation website set up to help with Bueller's treatment costs.
— Sacramento SPCA (@SacramentoSPCA) January 19, 2016