Sunday, 1 April 2012

Part Three

Gossip Dog here. Your one and only source into the scandalous lives of the dog world's elite. And who am I? That's something I'll never tell. You know you love me xoxo

Isn't it amazing what you can discover when you do some homework?

History, for example, is littered with amazing co-incidences. Take 1952 (a decade before I was born you understand!). In this one year alone, there were some incredible events in human history.

Firstly, we lost some important people, including our own beloved King George VI and Argentina's adored Eva "Evita" Peron. But science and medicine had a good year with the first plastic lens for cataract patients fitted, the first transistorised hearing aid sold, and the creation of the world's first artificial heart. 

1952 also saw the Big Bang theory proposed in Physical Review by Alpher, Bethe and Gammow.

Still with me? Good, keep up now.

It was also the year Britain announced that it had its own atomic bomb. East Germany closed its links with the West. And the US ended its occupation of Japan. Meanwhile there was a different kind of revolution taking place in our kitchens because Clarence Birdseye marketed frozen peas!

Excited? I knew you would be. But what has all this got to do with dogs I hear you ask?

Well, 1952 was also the year that Charles Schulz' comic strip 'Peanuts' first appeared in the Sunday papers. People fell in love with Snoopy, the cheeky, headstrong Beagle who sat on the roof of his kennel - aka the Sopwith Camel - and embarked on many a dogfight in the skies against the cursed Red Baron. Today, 60 years later, you will still find lots of dogs called Snoopy across all breeds. Sadly you'll also see a good many Snoopies on rescue sites fighting to stay alive because their human carers had a 'change of circumstances' (but don't get me started on that one). 

Anyway, being a bit of a tease, I've saved the best until last. 

In 1952 a novelty song was written by Bob Merrill and Ingrid Reuterskiold. Bear in mind this was a time when the world was a very different place. A time when the words 'ethical' and 'animal' were 100% mutually exclusive. The title of their song was "How much is that doggy in the window?". Bet you're singing it in your head right now.

In 2012 we know a lot more about animals than we did then. And we're still learning. When I say 'we', obviously I'm not referring to slow Joe public who is a different species altogether. No, in our more enlightened times, those of us with more than a time-share on a braincell understand why puppies being sold in pet shops is wrong on every level. 

And yet, providing you have a pet shop license, it is perfectly legal in the UK to sell sentient beings in shops the way retailers sell Blu-ray players and even supermarket groceries. 

Yes, I hear you and you're spot on. Just because something's legal, it doesn't make it right. 

Of course the owners and staff of pet shops that sell puppies will tell you that they obtain what they so charmingly refer to as their 'livestock' (again, don't get me started), from licensed breeders. Licensed as we know, by the councils. Councils with often more than a passing interesting in helping commercial breeders remain profitable. And councils that are free to interpret the guidance issued to them on animal welfare, in their very own sleepy-hollow way which differs from county to county. No standardisation. No consistency. And no intervention from the government. 

Just how many shades of wrong can there be?

I don’t know about you, but it just makes me see red. And unlike Snoopy, I'm not thinking 'Red Baron'. No sir. I'm sitting on my Sopwith Camel, thinking 'red light district', Amsterdam. Prostitutes sitting in shop windows. Punters salivating through the glass at what they can get for their money. And of course, pimps who run the show, rubbing their grubby, sticky little hands together while counting their ‘earnings’. 

All totally legal you understand.

Whatever your feelings on prostitution, the similarities of selling puppies in pet shops can’t have escaped your notice. Pups, punters and pimps. Of course, the prostitution takes place hundreds of miles away, far from prying eyes. Seeing breeding bitches tied down and raped might put the punters off and we can’t have that now can we? 

Pet shops will also tell you that they are completely transparent about where they obtain their ‘livestock’. What they don’t tell you is that you will only find out where your puppy has been bred, after you’ve parted with your money and signed on the dotted line. Then, and only then, can you trace your purchase back – yep, you guessed it – across the Severn Bridge to sleepy hollow.

Oh how quickly people forget. It's only a few years ago that one very famous London department store was exposed by the BBC for having a contract with an unlicensed puppy farmer in Ceredigion. The puppy farm was visited by the Dogs Trust assistant field director who said, "Conditions inside this puppy farm were absolutely horrific...".  

But don’t worry punters. Head up north to Leeds and Manchester and if your pet shop puppy is sick, those nice pet shop pimps peeps, will give you a replacement. Like all good retailers your purchase is covered by a warranty. Yes each puppy comes with a six month guarantee for your peace of mind. So you can trundle back to the shop, hand over your sick puppy and get a brand spanking new one, no questions asked. What’s that? Oh, I should have read the small print? I have to prove that my puppy was sick when I bought it? Ummm.

As for what happens to the sick puppy if it is returned? That’s not for the faint hearted. Let’s just say that faulty goods are not returned to the manufacturer. Puppy farmers don’t work on a ‘sale or return’ basis. 

No friends, a pet shop should be a place where you buy things 4 pets. End of.

So, regardless of all the amazing human advances we’ve seen since 1952, while the sale of puppies in pet shops remains legal in the UK in 2012, as a species we are sadly no more enlightened or evolved than we were back in the middle of last century. 

Now, we all know that there isn't a reputable breeder, breed club, animal charity, ethical vet or responsible dog publication that condones the sale of puppies in pet shops. But unfortunately, Mr and Mrs slow Joe public and their darling little "I want a puppy now!" ankle biters have proven time and again that they can't or won't be educated.  

So it's now time to change the course of history again. All we need to do is find ourselves a nice, ethically minded MP (there must be one) and get them to propose a Private Members' Bill that results in a long overdue change to the law. A law that sees an end to the indignity of pet shop prostitution for ever.

All those in favour, say 'aye'!

Gossip Dog