pug Tireless campaigner for canine welfare Jemima Harrison is launching a new campaign to promote the use of healthier dogs in advertising. Dogs seem to be everywhere in adverts at the moment and, as with people, advertisers tend to plump for the quirky-looking image.

CRUFFA – the Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat-Faced Animals in media, marketing and advertising is contacting companies that have used poor examples of brachycephalic dogs and making them aware of the problems that these dog suffer. As the campaign notes, such advertising helps to fuel demand for such pets and makes dogs that cannot regulate their temperature, breed naturally and breathe properly seem acceptable.

You can buy Jemima’s groundbreaking 2008 documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed and the sequel Pedigree Dogs Exposed Three Years On from her website as well as reading about her other work to improve the lives of dogs.

Whilst it is heartening to think that so many people are toiling to improve the lot of dogs, it is also sad to think that the once- repsected organisation the RSPCA has fallen so far into disrepute for what many see as its politically-motivated prorities and its abysmal handling of some welfare cases. Many people who live and work with animals have a story to tell about how disppointed they are in the organisation and now MPs have launched an enquiry into the RSPCA’s role as judge and jury (and fundraiser) in prosecuting alleged abuse of animals. The situation in England and Wales is different to that in the six counties of Northern Ireland and in Scotland where animal welfare groups have the power to investigate cases, but the decision whether to prosecute lies with the state. The RSPCA investigated 159,831 complaints of cruelty in England and Wales in 2014 and prosecuted 1,132 people, claiming a “success” rate of 98.9%. MPs are investigating whether that would be a more appropriate model for the whole of the UK.

Cases of horrendous cruelty to animals are tragically almost a daily occurence and there is certainly need for an accountable body to pursue them through the legislature. However, it would be far better to prevent cases from getting that far and in this, the RSPCA has been weak. An infrastructure needs to be established including making the employment of dog wardens a statutory obligation for local authorities and serious discussions need to be had with the BVA and similar organisations as to the role that veterinary surgeons play in monitoring and acting upon poor welfare. Resources need to be made available so that potential and existing owners can access the best advice available on the requirements of keeping a dog, including their legal and moral obligations.

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