LEADING Inverclyde vet Neil McIntosh has warned that a family duped into buying a sick puppy in Greenock which died days later is just the 'tip of the iceberg'.

The SSPCA have put out a public appeal to help with an investigation into the case, which is linked to three abandoned labradors found dumped in Renfrewshire last week.

Animal welfare officers believe the pups, who are being treated with parvovirus, are all from the same litter.

The family who bought the puppy in Greenock spent thousands of pounds trying to save the sick pup's life, but she died days later as a result of the deadly illness.

Abbey Vets' Mr McIntosh, who writes a weekly Tele column, said: "It is horrific what is happening and it is widespread.

"We are seeing so many cases of pups who are coming in ill because they are coming from these puppy farms and they are all being mixed together.

"The pups are coming in sick.

"It is worse than ever before because of the pandemic.

"During Covid there was an explosion in the demand for puppies.

"The Kennel Club, where you find legitimate breeders, had an increase in first time breeders of 45 per cent - that gives you some idea of the numbers trying to breed for the first time."

Animal welfare charity SSPCA say that they received a call from someone reporting that they had purchased a pup in Greenock from a seller who had met them in a public place because he said their home address was 'too difficult' to find.

They said the seller, a man, appeared with two pups and a bitch who he claimed was the dog's mother.

But it turned out the pup was seriously ill and despite spending thousands of pounds on treatment, the little Labrador died due to parvovirus.

It then emerged the microchip from the deceased puppy was from the same batch as the three pups rescued in Renfrew.

The SSPCA suspect the breeder dumped the pups after discovering they were ill.

Anyone with information is urged to call the confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.