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Imported puppy found by police in Nottingham and cared for at Radcliffe ‘lucky to survive’ after losing six friends to deadly virus

It was touch and go whether Chewie and his littermates would survive after they were rescued from a van in Nottinghamshire having been imported from abroad.


The trio of Yorkshire terriers were among 11 puppies found in the back of a van in Carlton, Nottinghamshire, on 2 March by Nottinghamshire Police.

They were in cramped, dirty conditions, desperate for water and eight of the pups soon tested positive for a highly contagious and deadly disease called parvovirus.

Six sadly died but the three Yorkies and two spaniels pulled through thanks to round-the-clock care by RSPCA staff at Radcliffe Animal Centre.

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Chewie before rescue NOTTS POLICE

Chewie – originally called Topaz – was given a clean bill of health and was rehomed to Elizabeth Morgan and her family at the end of March.

He now lives a life that’s a far cry from his early experience, being imported from Ireland to be sold on as part of the illicit puppy trade, said to be worth tens of millions every year.


Chewie and the puppies he was rescued with are just one of an estimated thousands of shipments of puppies that come into the UK from overseas to feed the dog market here.

Generally, many of these puppies will go to unsuspecting members of the public who believe they’re buying a puppy who has been bred by a loving family in the UK but many have in fact been born into awful conditions on European puppy farms, taken from their mothers too young, and transported thousands of miles where they can easily pick up and spread potentially life-threatening diseases and viruses.


It’s stories like Chewie’s that sparked the RSPCA’s #ForPupsSake campaign which called for a crackdown on puppy imports, something the Government committed to investigating as part of its Action Plan for Animal Welfare, unveiled last month.


The number of dogs being commercially imported surged by more than 50% during lockdown as the demand for puppies soared in the UK.

Statistics released by APHA showed the number of dogs imported into the country from the EU for commercial reasons had increased by 52% from 39,562 in 2019 to 60,190 in 2020; while the number of imports just from Romania increased 67% from 19,489 to 32,525 and now represent more than half (54%) of all EU imports. These are the legal, recorded imports and are expected to be just the tip of the iceberg.


Radcliffe manager Ella Carpenter said: “Chewie and his siblings were incredibly lucky to stay healthy and survive when the puppies they were with fell so ill so quickly. However, they’ve still been scarred by the frightening and confusing experiences they’ve already had in their short lives.


“All three were very anxious and nervous when they were with us. We find this is often common for pups from puppy farms and those that have been smuggled into the country as they’re often taken away from their mums too early, missing out on important socialisation opportunities during their first few months of life.

“Luckily, Chewie and his brother and sister – Opal and Emerald – have been adopted by wonderful families who will show them all the love they have so far missed out on.”

Chewie – now thought to be around eight months old – is settling into his new life well. Elizabeth said: “Chewie is still timid of certain loud noises and sounds and he’s utterly terrified of carrier bags so we wonder if he’s maybe been put inside one at some point in his previous life. Now he’ll run away and hide if he sees one.

“Other than that, he’s a normal, happy little puppy. He’s very playful and loves interacting with us all. He was initially quite timid when out on walks but he’s getting more and more confident with every day that goes by and now he likes to stop so everyone can say ‘hello’ to him and give him a fuss. It takes us ages to get anywhere!

“The support we’ve had from the team at Radcliffe has been amazing and we feel so incredibly lucky to have Chewie in our lives. He may have been lucky to survive his ordeal, but we’re lucky we got the chance to bring him home. And now he’ll never know anything but love and security for the rest of his life.”

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181. To help RSPCA Radcliffe Animal Centre continue rehabilitating and rehoming animals like Chewie please donate at

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