Fla. Rescue Says it Has Taken in 150 Surrendered Bulldogs, Many with Health Issues, in 5 Months (Exclusive)

Space Coast Frenchie Rescue's founder believes the rise in Frenchie surrenders is linked to an increase in backyard breeders in Florida

<p>Ashley Pedersen</p> A one-eyed French bulldog in Space Coast Frenchie Rescue

Ashley Pedersen

A one-eyed French bulldog in Space Coast Frenchie Rescue's care

Dozens of French bulldogs are hoping for a fresh start after being left with a Florida rescue, according to Space Coast Frenchie Rescue.

The Brevard County rescue tells PEOPLE that they have received over 150 surrendered French bulldogs since November, an overwhelming number, especially for a small rescue.

"Our mission is to save and improve the lives of bulldogs in need. We are dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating bulldogs," Ashley Pedersen, the founder and executive director of Space Coast Frenchie Rescue, says, adding that the nonprofit started in 2023.

As part of this effort, the rescue does not charge surrender fees to ensure that people who want to surrender their dogs don't abandon them. Taking in surrendered dogs does pose challenges.

"Often, dogs enter our rescue lacking any medical records, prompting us to initiate their care from scratch," Pedersen says.

<p>Ashley Pedersen</p> Two French bulldogs at a Space Coast Frenchie Rescue foster home

Ashley Pedersen

Two French bulldogs at a Space Coast Frenchie Rescue foster home

Unfortunately, many of the 150 dogs surrendered to the Space Coast Frenchie Rescue over the past five months arrived with health issues. Pedersen says the health issues they see in these Frenchies are similar to those found in dogs from backyard breeders.

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"The spectrum of issues in dogs from backyard breeders is extensive. Despite boasting about their breeding profits, these same individuals often neglect essential aspects of care, such as vaccines and preventive measures. Consequently, we frequently encounter dogs suffering from various ailments, including paralysis due to Intervertebral disc disease, uterine infections from lack of spaying, and rectal prolapses. The predominant health issues observed are skin and ear infections," Pedersen explains.

She adds that she has seen an increase in backyard breeders in Florida and believes that their irresponsible breeding practices are leading to ill dogs and Space Coast Frenchie Rescue's rise in surrendered dogs.

<p>Ashley Pedersen</p> A French bulldog with special needs under Space Coast Frenchie Rescue's care

Ashley Pedersen

A French bulldog with special needs under Space Coast Frenchie Rescue's care

"The proliferation of ill-informed breeders, particularly within the French Bulldog community, is alarming. Instead of prioritizing the well-being of the animals, they glorify the lucrative aspect of breeding, flooding the market with poorly bred dogs. This oversaturation undermines the integrity of responsible breeding practices, as many operate without a genuine purpose beyond financial gain," Pedersen says, adding, "Poor breeding practices and breeders selling dogs at low prices contribute to the problem" of animal surrenders.

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The rescue founder hopes that sharing Space Coast Frenchie Rescue's situation raises awareness about the issues that arise with buying a dog from a backyard breeder.

"Many buyers fail to conduct thorough research to locate reputable breeders. They spot a French Bulldog priced at $1000 and perceive it as a bargain without realizing that quality comes at a price. While Frenchies don't necessarily need to cost $5000, they shouldn't be excessively cheap either," Pedersen says.

<p>Ashley Pedersen</p> One of the dozens of French bulldogs Space Coast Frenchie Rescue is assisting

Ashley Pedersen

One of the dozens of French bulldogs Space Coast Frenchie Rescue is assisting

She adds, "Implementing legislation to regulate breeding practices is crucial, but in the interim, our focus remains on education to promote responsible breeding practices. Recognizing that not everyone opts for rescue, our aim is to empower individuals with the knowledge to make informed decisions and discern reputable breeders."

While some may not decide to adopt their next pet, Pedersen notes that countless deserving animals, including French bulldogs, are available for adoption.

Space Coast Frenchie Rescue has adopted more than 111 dogs since it started in 2023 and is looking forward to finding forever families for all the surrendered French bulldogs it has taken in over the past five months, including four more in the past week.

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Pedersen says the rescue's adoption fees start at $500 and reflect "the comprehensive care and support we provide to each animal."

"Our greatest need lies in finding foster families and adopters who are willing to provide loving homes for pets with special needs. While we primarily foster within our state boundaries, we do facilitate adoptions across state lines," she adds.

To learn more about Space Coast Frenchie Rescue, visit the nonprofit's website.

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