Puppy farming is responsible for a great deal of animal suffering in the UK but few people know much about the practice.
Often dogs are forced to breed litter after litter with very little nutrition or love given to them, existing simply to line their breeders' pockets with money. There is very little regulation over how their puppies are bred and sold.
Pup Aid, a one-day dog show held at Primrose Hill, was founded with the intention of educating people about the most ethical way to adopt a dog. The festival was set up by Marc Abraham in the hope of helping more dogs find their forever homes and helping to stop the growth of puppy farms.
BuzzFeed News went down to Pup Aid on Saturday to speak to some of the incredible people who have given struggling pooches lifelong homes.
Will Howkins, his son Owen, and their Anatolian shepherd Haatchi
Will Howkins and his wife decided to adopt Haatchi after seeing a post about him on Facebook. He was suffering horrendous injuries after being dumped in a railyard in Spitalfields and then being hit by a train.
"Haatchi was hit by a train which smashed his lower leg and severed his tail," Howkins said. "As a result they couldn't save the leg so they removed it. About two months later we came across him and thought we could probably give him a home — we've got the space, even if it was just for a year or two. We didn't know what his life expectancy would be. At least we could give him a decent life."
What Howkins didn't expect when the family adopted Haatchi was the bond that would form between the rescue dog and Howkins' son Owen. "Before Haatchi came along Owen would go outside, but it would be on my shoulders or being carried," he said. "He didn't like going in the wheelchair because he was being stared at by people. So he associated being in the chair with being stared at. Then when Haatchi came along, Owen had to come out to help us walk him. Over the course of the first month he was listening to me when people started to ask questions about what happened to Haatchi.
"He slowly started to build his confidence up and started to interact with people more and soon realised people were staring at Haatchi, and not him. He became so much more vocal and got his confidence back to where it used to be. The bond between them just formed. Haatchi is always there waiting when Owen comes home from school. He jumps on his bed at night-time and they're pretty much inseparable."
David Hill and former street dog Sharifa
David Hill adopted Sharifa from a charity called Nowzad that rescues stray dogs from Afghanistan and finds them homes across the world.
"When [Sharifa] was brought into the clinic she was found by a famous shrine called Mazar-i-Sharif," Hill said. "A member of the public brought her in with a rope embedded in her neck and severe mange. They thought they were going to have to put her to sleep but after several operations and a lot of love and attention from the staff out there she made it through recovery. Unfortunately due to the injuries though she can't raise her head up any more."
Hill went out to Afghanistan to meet Sharifa in February before bringing her home to the UK.
"Every morning and evening she would just wander up to me and want a fuss. We had another rescue too that unfortunately had to be put to sleep because he had a brain tumour. I then knew straight away that we had to give Sharifa a home. When we brought her home we thought we would have some issues getting her house-trained but she hasn't made one single mess in the house. She's just been absolutely fantastic — she's happier than ever and just likes to sleep all day."
Amanda Leask and former street dog Badal
Badal was roaming the streets of India suffering from many injuries before he was rescued by charity Guardians of the Voiceless. Amanda Leask came across videos of Badal's rescue on social media and felt she had to help him.
"We don't know for sure [what happened to Badal] but if you look closely at his injuries it's quite possible that it's been a machete attack or some other sharp object, which is sadly very common in India. Guardians of the Voiceless have been absolutely amazing – I'm forever in their debt, if they had given up on this dog, which was 10 minutes away from having a needle put in his vein and ending his suffering...
"But he still had that light in his eyes so they were determined to give him a shot. They had to fight hard to get him into their care. I'm so glad they did. I know his facial injuries look bad but he wears his scars with pride. He's an absolutely amazing dog and I like to think that he smiles a bit."
Leask also adopted Miracle, who she calls "the poster dog for the dog meat trade". Miracle was en route to Vietnam to be slaughtered for food when he was rescued.
"I first saw his picture on social media," Leask said. "It was a rescuer that I had worked with before and she'd taken a picture of this dog hanging from a meat truck, hanging out of a crate. He'd made a bid for freedom but got stuck and was actually strangling himself. His eyes were closed and he looked like he was gone. She took this picture that caused him to open his eye and then the rest is history really.
"When we first met it was almost a telepathic thing. He knew who I was – I had to wait nine months before I could bring him over as he had to heal. He was a sick dog and there was a connection, an immediate connection. We picked him up at the port before getting the rail sleeper back to Scotland, on which he slept on my chest the entire journey. The bond formed then, it was like glue.
"He met my little boy and another bond began to develop. My little boy has got cerebral palsy and he's autistic. They won the Friends for Life award at Crufts. Miracle then went on to win an Animal Hero award from the Daily Mirror and the RSPCA. He's got his own
book – you know, this dog has done so much to raise awareness for the meat trade. I'm now trying to get him registered for an assistance dog because I think he really deserves it. He's actually become my son's legs because he pulls my little boy around in a buggy. I really, really believe in fate and I think he was destined to join our family."
Tina Lobel and beagle Bea
Bea was rescued from an animal testing laboratory in Hungary by the Beagle Freedom Project before being brought to the UK for adoption. Tina Lobel fostered her when she arrived in the country and "couldn't bear to part with her", she said.
"Her vocal chords may have been cut. She doesn't really make much noises apart from squeaks and things like that. That is something they sometimes do but we don't know for sure. Apart from that they don't disclose what else could have happened to her. We're just glad she's out."
Lobel said the moment she met Bea was truly beautiful: "Oh, it was amazing. I mean, everyone has seen the videos on YouTube of dogs taking their first steps. She came out and she was quite shy. There were seven in her rescue and they were so tired but they still came over for cuddles."
Lisa Garner and poodle cross Plum Pudding
Plum Pudding was rescued at 6 months old from a puppy farm in Wales by a charity called Many Tears. Her tiny size was the reason for her lucky escape from a life of sustained breeding.
"She was only 2 kilos so they think she didn't grow big enough to breed from, so she had a lucky escape really," Lisa Garner said. "When she went into rescue she was covered in sawdust – she was all sorts of matted and had an ear infection. She was really underweight and you could feel all of her ribs. I've adopted three dogs now, ex-breeding dogs, and she's the youngest one I've had."
Garner said it was important to raise awareness about puppy farming. "Attending events like this is really important. People don't realise you can get puppies in rescue, you can get cross-breeds, you can get any sort of dog you want. This is also the best way to tackle puppy farming."