Kimberly and Garbo (Image: Instagram @citydogexpert)

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A dog owner who has rescued more than a thousand dogs has vowed never to buy from a breeder again – after being hit by a bill for £24,000 in vet's fees for her puppy.

Kimberly Freeman is an avid dog lover, trainer, behaviourist and has rescued over 1,000 dogs through fostering – but her biggest regret was buying a puppy.

The dog owner had been fostering animals for 10 years before she rescued her first pomeranian from a kill shelter in New York, and now has six dogs – five of which were rescued.

She said: “I have been addicted to the breed and wanted as many as humanly possible.

"However, there was always a catch: I was a rescue person, and poms hardly came into rescue. I was, however, proud to be a rescue person.

“I had been brought up in a family where the purchasing of pedigree dogs, or supporting breeders was discouraged, and we always rescued. It was just the thing we did.”

Garbo is tiny compared to his rescued housemates
(Image: Instagram @citydogexpert)

During the pandemic, Kimberly wasn’t afraid to admit she was struggling, and began looking for another dog to welcome into her pack.

She said: “I was not doing well living in isolation in the middle of a world pandemic. A combination of absolute burnout, a recent traumatic breakup and prescribed medication was putting me in very dark places, and shielding from the entire world led me down a path I deeply regret – me purchasing my first dog from a breeder.

“At this time, I already had four rescue poms and was getting the ache for another rescue. My last rescue was assumed to be four years old, but he turned out to be at least 10. I wanted a younger dog and I had been on some of the rescue lists for months, and in some cases years with no luck.

“It’s really good in some senses that there are hardly any Pomeranians in rescue, but it does make it frustrating for those who want one, so they turn to breeders. I went against everything I stood for and did the same thing.”

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But little did she know that the £800 puppy she bought would nearly die on her several times, cost her thousands of pounds in vet bills and need lifelong treatment and medication.

The puppy only had one eye and was partially blind – but Kimberly was willing to take on the tiny pooch.

Kimberly added: “I asked for pictures of the pups and was not sent many. One photo of the mother’s face was sent, and a heavily pixelated picture labelled ‘Dad’.

“Garbo was handed to us outside in a carrier, with minimal accessories and two days of food.”

Garbo the pomeranian weighs 800g and only has one eye
(Image: Instagram @citydogexpert)

Kimberly became immediately concerned about Garbo’s leg – which was just the start of a downward health spiral that would uncover more and more issues.

She said: “When Garbo arrived, it became very obvious to me that there was something wrong with her leg.

“Due to the pandemic, I was unable to get a vet appointment, even though I had attempted numerous times, and with several vets. I even sent images and had video calls with Pomeranian experts and breeders. One instantly said the issue was related to the patella as the kneecap was constantly out.

“After continuous calls to vets and specialists, I was finally able to get an appointment with a vet two hours away. After a long drive, the vet diagnosed either a knee or hip issue. It was impossible to tell the exact details and severity without putting Garbo under for x-rays- something that was decided against due to her size.”

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Less than a week later, Garbo nearly died in her owners’ arms.

“Within a matter of hours, she went from a happy puppy, running around and constantly licking my face to a stagnant pup having issues breathing and unable to move,” Kimberly said.

“I guessed hypoglycaemia, and put honey on her gum line while I rushed her to an emergency vet. Garbo was handed to a vet nurse in a near dead state and I was told to wait in the car outside as there was the possibility she would not come around due to her size and age.

“I sat on the phone in tears to one of my best friends, unable to comprehend what was happening.

“I broke down. I was in love with this little annoying, yappy puppy, and Garbo had cost me a lot of sleep, money, and emotional turmoil. But I was invested.”

The puppy has nearly died multiple times, but Kimberly is determined to give her the best chance at life
(Image: Instagram @citydogexpert)

Garbo – now a year and a half old – has since been diagnosed with a hole in her skull, two fluctuating patellas, one hip totally malformed, a hole in her stomach, and a liver shunt, weighing just 800g.

Kimberly has spent £24,000 on vet bills – of which half was covered by insurance – as well as hours of syringe feeding to keep the little pup alive.

She said: “Of course, I still have Garbo with me. She has cost me thousands so far and will continue to cost me for the rest of her little life.

“It was a heart-breaking venture into buying my first dog. I will never buy another dog again and will always be confident that after this experience, rescue is the only option for me.”