Two dog clinics in Essex are said to be part of a meteoric rise in dog fertility clinics artificially inseminating canines due to demand for puppies. The Sunday Mirror has revealed a tenfold increase in fertility clinics for dogs in the past two years, saying some are based in the kitchens and back rooms of shops, reports the Mirror.
Although some forms of artificial insemination are permitted, investigations by the Mirror found adverts for a few canine facilities providing the service for around £350. Only qualified veterinarians are allowed to perform transcervical insemination under the Veterinary Surgeons Act (TCI).
Some clinics advertise TCI on social media or on their website. K9 Clinics, in Ilford, East London, near Essex, shows photos of bulldogs created by TCI on its website and Instagram page.
Read more: Essex TikTok star warns of risk of dog theft
Its website stated: “Overview of the service: Sperm is inserted through the cervix into the uterus using an endoscope (tube) – allowing the cervix to be seen and insert a catheter. This is called transcervical insemination, and it can be done while the dog is standing.
Undercover Mirror reporters emerged as potential customers at the Ilford clinic, which is located down a lane. They brought in a one-year-old cockapoo, Luna, and the consultation cost £50 with no staff questioning the dog’s medical history or genetic conditions.
The consultant confirmed he specialized in mating bulldog breeds, but offered to do the procedure on Luna for £350, as he boasted he had performed TCI on over 1,000 dogs. He said, “Everything we do is legal.”
When asked if there were any risks, he then replied: “No, nothing at all.” Then the undercover reporters asked about his qualifications saying, “Wouldn’t we have to take him to the vet?”
He then replied, “No, no.” Pointing to certificates on the wall, he added, “I had to take a course, off and on, for six years. It’s practical too. I have all my certifications.
The credentials were given by a company that was recently criticized in a BBC documentary. The staff member told them how to get around the restrictions requiring those who produce multiple litters to apply for a license from the local council.
He said, “You don’t have to be honest with them. If it’s personal pets, they probably won’t ask questions. K9 Clinics declined to comment when presented with the results by the Mirror.
Meanwhile, Basildon-based Essex Canine Fertility Services is promoting the procedure for dogs who cannot reproduce normally due to their size. The website states: “Insemination is a quick and painless procedure in which fresh sperm is deposited into the uterus, either in front of or directly into the cervix (tci).”
However, the clinic said they had never performed ICT when the Mirror approached them. The Essex Clinic said: “We are going to have the [website’s] the wording has changed with this ASAP as we can now see that it could/has caused some confusion.
Most canine fertility clinics in England are unregulated and run by breeders rather than qualified vets. All the clinics offered artificial insemination services, some of which are still legal, despite the concerns of experts.
The procedure involves delivering semen through the female dog’s cervix into the uterus using a catheter. Special equipment is required and it could cause life-threatening injuries and infections if sloppy.
The charity Naturewatch said the number of fertility clinics for dogs in the UK had risen from 37 before the first lockdown to more than 300. Its puppy-keeping expert Natalie Harney said: ‘It’s heartbreaking. We breed dogs to their absolute limit. Something has to give.
RSPCA Chief Veterinarian Caroline Allen said: “Some of the herds we are seeing at the moment are awful. There are types of bulldogs that cannot breathe, sleep, or exercise properly.
“These people want to bypass vets because they don’t care about animal welfare. They treat dogs like commodities – just things that will make money.