One Click Wonder

Cariad film still It takes minutes to find thousands of fluffy puppy pictures on websites. One click and you could have a little bundle of joy. Why not spend that time doing a little research into where those puppies come from?

One of the campaigns that we support is C.A.R.I.A.D which, being based in Wales, is on the frontline of the attempt to end the trade in farmed puppies and deal with the results. I was uploading their details onto this site when I came across a video. It wasn’t the result of an investigation into a remote puppy farm. It was taken by a member of the public who had gone to view a property for sale after the owner had died.

One Visit shows what was discovered. Be warned – it is distressing.

People who work with animals are often accused of caring more for non-human species than their own kind. They are often seen as being sentimental. This short film highlights the human tragedy behind puppy farming. The fact is that our society allows humans and animals to suffer equally – and ignores them both.

Look at William Hogarth’s paintings and engravings from the 18thC and you will see that he highlighted the fact that man’s inhumanity to man goes hand in hand with man’s inhumanity to animals. The tiny percentage of people who are prosecuted for cruelty to animals often have a history of violence and abuse towards people.

This video shows what happens when amateur breeding spirals out of control. This video whows what happens because people buy “cute” puppies from websites.

Hidden Horrors

minced meat dog Just reading Felicity Lawrence’s updated version of Not On The Label (probably one of the best diet books you’ll ever read because it just might put you off eating anything!) I thought that, as an avid listener to Farming Today, I was pretty savvy with regard to food production.

The following did shock me though and provides a salutary lesson to anyone who feeds their dog food intended for human consumption.

You might think that minced beef would be harmless but maybe not. I had assumed that cheaper cuts of beef used for mince would have a higher percentage of fat (and possibly a little connective tissue or similar) than prime mince. But it could be that really cheap cuts have considerably more than you bargained for. Some are of such low quality that yeast and malt extracts are added to “restore” flavour and colour. There maybe added sugar and salt too. So far, not great but not lethal for canines. Except that onion powder is also a frequently used additive.

Members of the allium family, including onions, are toxic to dogs and can cause severe anaemia and death if ingested in sufficient quantity.

Problems have been observed in dogs that have consumed as little as 0.5% of their body weight in onions and can occur if small amounts are ingested over time as well as if a large amount is ingested in one go.

So, stick to the dog food – and you might want to have a re-think about your own diet too.

10,000 Dogs Slaughtered for Summer Solstice

Grande_Boucherie_Canine_a_ParisMedia all over the world are abuzz at the announcement that thousands of dogs are to be slaughtered at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. Pressure is being brought to bear inside China and from abroad in an attempt to end the practice of eating dog meat.

It is easy to have a sentimental, knee-jerk reaction to this (and indeed a racist, xenophobic one), but it is a complex problem and to some extent, a cultural one. It is common knowledge that south east Asian cultures have traditionally consumed dog meat, but so have New Zealanders and the Swiss. Dogs and cats were eaten in times of famine more recently and more closely to home than some would care to consider. Horses were consumed before they were ridden or used as draught animals, and of course, still are. Some of the welfare problems facing our native breeds have occurred because of the cessation of the live meat trade, for instance.

What is of more concern than the consumption of dogs per se is the condition in which the dogs are kept, under which they are slaughtered and the fact that pets are stolen to fuel the trade. There are many people in China bankrupting themselves to buy as many dogs as they can so that they cannot be slaughtered for food, but it is still a drop in the ocean.

What is needed is a major campaign to improve dog welfare in general, including legislation that covers the transporation and slaughtering of dogs so that at least those that are destined for the menu are kept and killed in as humane a condition as can be achieved.

We may never erradicate the consumption of dog meat entirely, but we can at least ensure that dogs suffer as little as possible in the process even if the incentive needs to be that that way they produce healthier food.

A Dog “Incident” Every 10 Minutes – Is This A Record?

I was walking home from training class last night, a balmy summer evening stroll of about 30 minutes which should have been pleasant after a fun evening preparing for our KCGC Gold test next month.

About half way though the walk, I turned down a side road and noticed two cyclists at the top of the road chatting by the kerbside. What I didn’t see until it launched into a frenzied attack, was the little black Cocker spaniel that shot out on an extendable lead and attempted to sink its teeth into my dog’s face. I backed off to a safe distance. The cyclists continued chatting, unconcerned while the dog danced around at the end of the lead, desperate to scare us away. I called and asked the owner to get his dog under control which he eventually did with a struggle, and carried on chatting, totally unconcerned about the state of his dog and, it goes without saying, with barely an acknowledgment to me, never mind an apology.

I suspect that this poor, unsocialised dog is regularly hauled along while the owner rides his bicycle, no doubt congratulating himself on how much “exercise” he is giving it and oblivious to the effects and consequences for the dog – or other road users for that matter.

Ten minutes later, virtually within sight of home, our path was blocked by two people walking very slowly and deep in conversation. I asked politely for them to let me pass; the man flicked a glance at me and carried on talking. I asked again. He flicked another glance at me. I asked a third time and this time was treated to a glare, but still they carried on. When a gap eventually appeared, I stormed past, pavement rage welling up and overflowing, only to come face to face with an elderly JRT, loose outside a shop. Luckily neither my dog nor the JRT batted an eyelid. Of course, this owner was also oblivious to his dog, presumably convinced that it was fine left alone by a busy road with no lead whilst he did his shopping.

One minute away from home – surely nothing else could happen? – but no. Our path was blocked again by two men straddling the pavement, also deep in conversation. (Had I missed momentous news that had everyone buzzing while we struggled with emergency stops and perfecting off lead heelwork?) Before I could draw breath, I realised that they were being preceded by a Newfie who casually wandered into the road and proceeded to walk down the middle of the left hand lane. Perhaps they did not realise that dogs are red/green colour blind so it had no hope of interpreting the traffic lights as it headed towards the junction with the A road. They only retrieved it when they saw us coming, no doubt assuming that my on-lead dog was a canine pest that might threaten their bear-sized charge.

Not only are these owners a menace to other people and dogs, they are causing their pets untold distress and putting them in the way of causing real harm to themsleves and other people.

Until we start putting serious resources into addressing these issues and many others, a simple, half hour walk will continue to necessitate the utmost vigilence.

RSPCA Anniversary

On this day in 1824, the RSPCA, then the SPCA was founded in a London coffee shop. One would hope that no one would disagree with prevention of cruelty to animals, but of course there is no consensus as to what constitutes cruelty.

Some things are obvious: anyone who attends a rescue class at a dog show will hear tale after tale of terrible cruelty. Less direct abuse such as allowing a pet to become obese, treating a dog like a fashion accessory and carrying it everywhere, refusing to accede to or pay for veterinary treatment etc etc are not so easy to address, not least because they are quite widespread.

Increasingly, it seems that this once highly respected charity is being regarded in lower and lower esteem. Mention the RSPCA to most dog or horse owners and at best snorts of derision will issue forth. Mostly there is anecdote after anecdote about the disinterest and rudeness exhibited when cruelty has been reported or over-zealous attention from the RSPCA when animals are under veterinary care and are mistakenly reported.

Most think that it is a scandal that the organisation has spent vast sums of donated money in pursuing legal cases against hunt staff yet seems to be unable or unwilling to respond when early signs of abuse are reported by the public.

No doubt individual officers are doing a difficult and necessary job in the face of increasing welfare problems, but the organisation as a whole is not held in high regard and needs to consider its founding principals and real priorities if it is to make real strides in improving dog welfare.

Barking Mad

dog pooThe announcement that the London Borough of Barking (you couldn’t make it up!) has initiated a pilot to create a database of the DNA of its 18,000 canine residents in order to fine owners for not picking up faeces caused a rash of press puns.

Owners who don’t pick up cause a nuisance and give us all a bad name and they are often also the same owners who refuse to put their dogs on a lead and thus don’t even see their dogs defecating. However, this could mean that responsible owners leaving a scrap behind or having one of those days when the leaves offer perfect camouflage and even the brightest torch cannot help, will bear the brunt of punishments. Irresponsible owners will find a way round the law and evade fines as they do with any other sanction.

Barking plan to introduce a public space protection order (PSPO) to make DNA testing mandatory. Presumably they will also impose “dog ASBOs” on persistent offenders. At the moment, registering appears to be voluntary. However, it seems likely that owners who already pick up will be those who will register in the mistaken impression that they will not make easy targets for the council.

Daventry District Council are currently consulting on a proposal to fine dog handlers £100 rising to £1,000 if they are caught without the means of picking up. Woe betide any owner that uses the last bag. Having come up with the odd creative solution when caught out myself, it will be interesting to see what the courts will decide constitutes the means of picking up – horse chestnut leaf and the occasional discarded crisp bag springs to mind! One man’s litter is another man’s dog poo container. So you could say that forgetting a poo bag could even become a public service.

It would be interesting to compare the amount spent on clearing discarded chewing gum from pavements, never mind sweeping up discarded cigarette butts, with the actual amount of dog faeces encountered.

It is an easy option for councils to impose punishments and fines on dog owners who make the odd error; a much harder one to put resources into educating irresponsible owners and paying for sufficient, full time dog wardens.

Manners On Public Transport

Travelling back from a show on Sunday, I made a beeline for a bank of empty seats on a fairly crowded train. Of course, there is always a reason that seats are empty on these occasions – this time is was because of the small bulldog bitch on the adjacent seats.

I mean that literally – ON the seats. The handlers – amateur actors by all accounts (they were reading loudly, ostentatiously and very badly from a script propped up against the window) – had placed their rather sweet dog on the seat beside them. Excited by the presence of my dog, she then leapt up and down across six seats, shedding hair and depositing paw marks as she went. At one point, I had to shout at them before they finally took notice of me as she was about to jump down on top of my dog, which, given her weight and the height from which she was attempting to jump, would have been unpleasant for all concerned.

It is behaviour like this that gives us all a bad name and, ultimately, will lead to us being banned from public transport – a disaster for a non-driver such as myself.

Dog Walkers Injured By Cattle

Two  dog wakers have been injured by cattle within days of each other at the end of May, one in Warwickshire, the other in Dorset. It is vital that dog owners keep their dogs under control (on a lead) near livestock and pick up after them, not only for our own and our dog’s safety, by so that we can expect reasonable access to the countryside.

Livestock can be dangerous, especially with young a foot. Your dog can also transmit neosporosis to cattle and sarcocystosis to sheep. Worm your dog regularly with a veterinary wormer. Accustom your dog to being calm around livestock -country shows are a ghood place to do this safely. Avoid walking through pasture with livestock if at all possible. It is better to take a detour than to have an accident, even if you think that have right of way. You can always report a restriction later. Stay quiet and calm around livestock.

If you are charged by cattle DROP YOUR LEAD and seek safety as calmly as possible.