Friday, 30 December 2011

What do you hope will be in Pedigree Dogs Exposed 2?

We're writing an article looking back at the original documentary - Pedigree Dogs Exposed (PDE) and asking what we'd all like to see in PDE 2 - which will be shown in the New Year by the BBC.
Jemima Harrison's documentary sent shock waves around the dog world. It was undeniably a pivotal emperor's new clothes moment.
Many of us had long voiced concerns about the future welfare of pedigree dogs, but much of the content of the documentary had even the most pessimistic commentator shocked. Things would never be the same again.
Unfortunately the better breeders felt they were tarnished by the documentary, that the general public would think all breeders were just as bad as those on the documentary. They felt equal air time should have been given to the good as well as the bad - but that's not how TV works.
When Panorama looked at MP's expenses it would have been a very dull show if they'd told us about everyone who had made reasonable claims!
It was after all called Pedigree Dogs Exposed - not Pedigree Dog Breeders Appraised.
When you make a big splash there is going to be unexpected ripples, but some in the dog world became polarised into extreme positions and became stubbornly anti-reform and hated the documentary and the maker rather than reacting to the content.
A small group of these denialists formed a facebook group that has attempted to sabotage the making of Pedigree Dogs Exposed 2.
We'd like to know what people from lots of different parts of the dog world would like Pedigree Dogs Exposed 2 to achieve.
I personally would like to see some harmony - where everyone who loves dogs agrees to work together to try to solve the problems that we all know lie ahead.
But how do we get there?
Email with what you'd to see covered by PDE2.
We're not encouraging anonymous contributions, there's already been far too much mud slinging by people made brave by anonymity.
But we would love to hear what you think should be in it and why. What has been the effect of PDE 1 in your opinion? We would also like to hear from people who have perhaps changed their mind about PDE over the years since it was made.
Do please share your opinions.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Three steps to a heavenly new home!

Our adoption special is fast becoming a regular feature of the magazine and we'd like to make it as easy as possible for as many rescues as possible to take us up on this free service.

We have discovered some small rescues seem to struggle to take good photos of the dogs or indeed find the time to deal with emails, so if you have a decent camera and are looking for an excuse to spend some time looking at some of the gorgeous dogs in your local rescue organisation can you offer to help them take up this free offer? You may need to tell them about it, too - as many people running rescue don't have time to read magazines either!

There are just three things we need in order to feature a dog looking for a new home.

1. A good photo.

One that will reproduce in print without looking pixelated. What works for the web isn't high enough res for print. When you attach the photo it should show as neing at least 500kb or ideally 1MB or more. And you need to send the pic as an attachment - not embedded in a document as we can't extract them. Obviously being in focus shot is a massive help, too!

2 We need the answers to these very simple questions - ideally don't repeat the questions and keep it in order, just give us the answers! :

Name of dog:
Type of dog and size if not obvious:
Approx age: (in years)
With other dogs?
With cats?
Good with young children?
Good with older children?
Location (County):
Contact details: (Web and phone)
Foster or forever home?

3 A 100 word statement as if written by the dog. This doesn't have to duplicate any of the info given in the questions - so please feel free to use your imagination. The best ones really do make people stop and think. Here's a couple of our favourites to give you the idea.

My name is Megan and I found myself in rescue after my elderly owner moved into sheltered accommodation. I'd spent most of my life outside, where I was cold and lonely. I was also suffering with a flea allergy, which caused me to lose most of my fur on my back, but the kind people here say that I am still very pretty and, over time, with love and proper care, my fur will grow back.I am a sweet girl who loves cuddles and attention. Could I be the one for you?

Hello, my name is George and I am looking for a lovely person to make my last few months happy, as I do not want to spend them in kennels. If you think you could give me a warm fireside this winter, please do get in touch. I am a bit wobbly on my pins, but I still enjoy a bit of a run around on days when the weather is good. Most of all, I enjoy being with people, as I love everyone and the more cuddles I can fit into one day, the better!

Send all these THREE elements to with 'Adopt 3' in the subject.

The first complete entries received are the ones we will use. So please hurry and make sure you have all three elements.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Have you dogified your home? Want to be on TV and get paid?

Want to be on TV and get paid? Have you changed your home in any way to make it more doggie? Anybody got doggie wallpaper, unusual adaptions like dog flaps? Little steps up to the sofa or the bed? They are prepared to pay! Please do pass it on to anyone who you think fits the brief.

Here's the message I've been asked to pass on...

.Looking for unusual home decor -(including for pets!) and their owners to be filmed for a TV ad job....'Charmingly eccentric' rooms/ interior design/or features for pets and their owners ...anything interior/exterior elaborate dog or cat flap,  animal-inspired decor, a themed pet room, a internal mural or on an end terrace etc...If you know of anyone please pass on or message with contact details and a photo of your creation. We are looking to find and short-list people in the next few days.

The filming is for 'idents' which will run throughout the year on The Home Channel which is part of UK TV. Participants would be paid for taking part in half a day's filming (likely during 3rd-8th January 2012). There is a fee offered to anyone who takes part.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Our campaign to stop breeding Staffies...

made it into the Sun yesterday...
Only a very small piece, but it's a step in the right direction!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Need a holiday yet?

Would you like to win a free trip through the Eurotunnel? 
We have a short-break ticket plus free travel for up to two dogs to give away to a lucky reader! Here's what you have to do and it couldn't be more simple. One person will be chosen at random to win. 
Email your name and address to and put "Dogs Today" in the subject heading. 
Entries close 12 January 2012. 
Or you can post your details to: Dogs Today competition, The Channel Tunnel Group Ltd, UK Terminal, Ashford Road, Folkestone, Kent, CT18 8XX.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Searching 10 more dogs looking for a home

I admit it, I'm a pushover. We had one extra dog come in the day after we filled the last slot in our February adoption special and I couldn't stand the thought of this lovely dog not getting a chance. 
So I've created two more pages for the feature - which means we've got space for 10 more dogs! Please pass it on and spread the word.
We need 100 words as if written by the dog and the answers to some simple questions and a good photo that is big enough to be printed - ie 300 dpi and at least 1MB when you email us - certainly no less than 500kb. 
Email me, with "Adopt me 2" in the subject line. Check out the way the pages look in the current issue to get the hang of how to do the best write up. Write as if you are the dog looking for a home, make your dog an individual and not just a statistic. 
The questions are:
1. Name of dog:
2. Type of dog and size if not obvious:
3. Approx age: (in years)
4. Sex:
5. Neutered?
6. Housetrained?
7. With other dogs?
8. With cats?
9. Good with young children?
10. Good with older children?
11. Location (County):
12. Contact details: (Web and phone)
13. Foster or forever home? 

Hurry! Please spread this far and wide. And yes - this is completely free.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Another Red card for Man United

Footballers Dogs would make a great TV documentary if anyone out there researching such things is reading.
Mr Anderson is out of the Man U squad at the moment nursing a knee injury - whether it was at the hands of a paramilitary branch of the puppy farm campaign group is still unclear at this stage.
Mr Anderson apparently bought two Bernese Mountain Dogs from a certain massive pet superstore in Salford, the one where Wayne and Coleen hang out and other footballing royalty and intelligentsia.
Unfortunately he forgot about sex.
An unusual statement to make about a professional footballer, I know.
But Mr Anderson obviously knew his beloved dogs intimately - for according to the papers he never noticed he had a boy dog and a girl dog until the 10 pups arrived.
Did no one suggest neutering or birth control to Mr Anderson?
Do we really want such an idiot reproducing - never mind his dogs?
And this is most likely to be a brother sister mating isn't it?
Incest in the premier division.
Unless the pet shop had several litters of Bernese Mountain Dogs on offer when he bought a matching pair?
Maybe he thought you buy dogs like you buy shoes?
(That's why they have Hush Puppies after all.)
So just in time for Christmas, Mr Anderson is limping around the parks of Salford trying to offload his 10 pups that are eating him out of tasteful house and home.
If there are no takers in this wonderfully caring way of selecting new homes he is contemplating moving to a castle.
Here's a link to the story if you were hoping I was making all this up... Click here and take blood pressure medication.
Have asked Dogs Trust this morning if they can have a word and take over finding homes for these unplanned pups. Let's hope he does accept the help.
And please step forward a caring, intelligent footballer to show people this really is no way to behave.
I would be keen to start a new annual award.
Forget Rear of the Year, let's have an award for Celebrity Arse of the Year in a welfare context...
Suggestions please as to what the trophy should look like?
I'm thinking a very realistic dog turd...

Monday, 5 December 2011

It's competition time!

Can you think of a funny caption for this photo featuring Kodi and Kaya, Northern Inuits. Best caption wins a Dog Traning Kit for Dummies courtesy of the Company of Animals and five runners up will win a Marrow Ring.

Email your captions to or go to our Dogs Today facebook page and share the fun and read others ideas for inspiration!
We'll be judging tomorrow at 1pm! So hurry.

Adopt me again!

Only seven slots left in next issue's Adopt Me section - so please hurry if you have a hard to home dog you want included and haven't yet applied! We need 100 words as if written by the dog and the answers to some simple questions and a good photo that is big enough to be printed - ie 300 dpi and at least 1MB when you email us - certainly no less than 500kb. 
Email me, with "Adopt me 2" in the subject line. Check out the way the pages look in the current issue to get the hang of how to do the best write up. Write as if you are the dog looking for a home, make your dog an individual and not just a statistic. 
The questions are:
1. Name of dog:
2. Type of dog and size if not obvious:
3. Approx age: (in years)
4. Sex:
5. Neutered?
6. Housetrained?
7. With other dogs?
8. With cats?
9. Good with young children?
10. Good with older children?
11. Location (County):
12. Contact details: (Web and phone)
13. Foster or forever home? 

Hurry! Not many places left, but we can put you on the waiting list as some lucky dogs are homed before we go to press. And yes - this is completely free.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Another episode of Footballers Dogs...

A few years ago the Daily Mail asked me to write a page on David and Victoria Beckham's disappointing decision to buy a Shar Pei pup from a pet shop in Milan.
It was pretty much a whole page of head shaking and saying what an atrocious example they had set. How they had let everyone down.
The couple so many people wanted to emulate had impulse-purchased a dog from a pet shop!
It was an outrage.
They'd fueled the depressing battery farm business that consigns poor dogs to a life of reproduction slavery and misery and pumps out pups into the hands of dodgy dealers.
Fast forward a few years...
Today I was sent a link to the Manchester Evening News and an article that seemed to celebrate that pretty much all the Manchester United squad have bought one or more dogs from an enormous pet superstore called Dogs 4 Us in Salford.
Regular Dogs Today readers will remember that this place used to be called Mayfield Kennels.
If you're trying to imagine it - it's a bit like an pseudo Harrods pet department set in the North. But with many more dogs.
I haven't visited for a while, but this place looked really slick, more like a car showroom than how you'd perceive a traditional sawdust floored pet shop selling pups. There was a massive range of breeds when I visited and the website does still say it's a growing part of their business.
When I was there you could pay by card and you could have your dog delivered if you'd prefer. And it was far from cheap - which is probably why the footballing set like it so much. It's reassuringly expensive.
The newspaper article reveals that one Man U player bought a Chow and came back for a Lab.
Wayne Rooney got a Dogue de Bordeaux and Coleen a Bichon.
(Perhaps it was a 'buy one get one free'? )
And there's long opening hours, too.
It's not like trying to prise a pup away from a caring breeder who will make you put your name down on a waiting list, will grill you like you were trying to marry their children and expect you to travel the length of the country probably several times.
And you can buy all your accessories in the same store at the same time when you shop at Dogs 4 You.
I guess the Man U squad knew their friends had shopped there - so they did, too.
And all their fans see articles in the press about the store and they come to see a pet shop dog as being somehow really aspirational.
This week we also had ITV pumping out on prime time TV that a pet shop is the responsible place to buy a pup if you want to avoid puppy farmers.
Deep sigh.
Surely there's a footballer out there that has some involvement in animal welfare that could make acquiring a Staffie from a dogs home fashionable? Now that's a trend I'd love to see. 
Or do we all give up and concede that pups are nothing special, they're just a commodity with a profit margin and a shelf life like any other thing?
That we just can't get outraged any more.
People like David Beckham and Wayne Rooney have now made pet shop pups chavy chic and the mainstream media seem now to know no better, either?
When Dogs Trust, Blue Cross, KC, Wood Green and BVA all complain and don't even get the dignity of an answer... well it must not matter as much as we all think. Perhaps we're all out of step?
Deep sigh.
Wish I was still writing my column in the Mail.
And I wish someone on these mainstream TV lite entertainment shows would start sticking up for dogs a bit better and start opening the eyes of the next generation. But it seems our experts just get all star struck and tongue-tied, forgetting why they're actually there.
Is it just me that hears the clock ticking for the surplus dogs waiting to see who is next to be chosen for the needle? Senses the unborn pups growing in their mother's wombs - created just to meet the latest trend or fad.
Senses that all these poor dogs have no choice and that we do and someone could stop dogs being hurt by consumerism and greed.
Someone needs to start connecting with the nation and getting them to care about dogs the way dogs care about us.
Before our best friend slips further into being just another disposable commodity.
We need to explain to people how very special and wonderful dogs are - how we shouldn't treat them like things - like watches, fridges or cars.
You'd not have a baby adoption shop where you can buy a child - so why do we sell dogs like this?
They love us unconditionally, we need to protect them from our ugly side.
We need to remove dogs from impulse purchase situations.
Dogs are just so unbearably cute that we need a really long cooling down time and certainly not any extra encouragement to buy.
But we already have many more dogs than we ever had before.
Perhaps dogs will become like sofas.
Furniture used to last our parents a lifetime, now we all seem to buy a new sofa every couple of years. Maybe we'll be changing our dogs like we change our winter coat in the decades to come....
Do I sound as jaded as a feel?
There are 90 good dogs looking for a home in our January edition.
Many have spent years waiting patiently in rescue for an owner.
They are full of unrequited love.
Yet we keep pumping out more and more and more pups.
In the next four or five days 90 perfectly good dogs will die at the end of a needle because we no longer want them, they are last year's must-have dog.
Give me Wayne Rooney or David Beckham for a day and a film crew.
Let me turn them.
Let me take them to the killing fields of Britain's rejected fashion statement dogs.
Let's have them look unflinchingly into those kind trusting eyes as the injection goes in and the body goes limp and all hope of finding love slips away forever.
Footballers, with all your money and all your influence, can you please make rescuing a dog the next trend?
Can you please make it cool to care?
Can you save British people from becoming serial dog killers?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Super Tiny Morals - a storm in a teacup?

We got a big fat no answer from ITV to our concerned email about this show (link here).

Seems we are not alone.... just in from Dogs Trust:
"It was disappointing that the producers of Super Tiny Animals did not respond to our email in advance about the welfare messaging. Dogs Trust would have expected the inappropriateness of some of the behaviour, such as the constant handling of the dogs and the dressing up shown in the programme to be discussed.
"With the programme airing in the run up to Christmas we do have concerns that many people will watch and request a teacup pet as a gift. Although many of the owners shown represent extreme case studies, not all viewers will be aware of the unsuitability of these animals to be domestic pets or the specialist care they require  and simply be blinded by the cute factor. Dogs Trust did point out to the producers that we have just run a campaign highlighting the increase in abandoned ‘handbag dogs’, many of whom are overweight and under-socialised as a result of being carried rather than walked. It would have been more responsible for this type of messaging to be included in the programme."

Also in Wood Green's reaction to the programme:

Following the airing of ITV’s Super Tiny Animals last night Wood Green, The Animals Charity would like to state that as a charity we cannot condone the breeding of ‘teacup’ or ‘miniature’ animals of any kind.  The subsequent fragility of these breeds combined with on-going medical issues and majorly reduced life expectancy in no way complies with any animal welfare standards that we support. To add an exorbitant price tag to these poor creatures just adds insult to injury.  If mother nature intended them to be that small she would have created them herself, minus the medical issues. Wood Green would also like to urge people to think carefully before considering rehoming a new pet this Christmas. It is important to remember that any animal, whether it be a dog, cat, ferret, rabbit, sheep, chicken or goat, will require care, love and attention throughout its' lifetime and not just over the festive period.
Did ITV acknowledge the KC or Blue Cross?  They all told us they were all also contacting ITV with big worries about the programme?

The BVA - the British Veterinary Association - told me yesterday they still hadn't heard anything from ITV.

Not a word.

But the Teacup pages on facebook are alive with on the one hand 'iccle dog 'must have' frenzy and lively debate from welfare crusaders who keep getting banned!

And on Twitter I saw that TV vet Marc Abraham did half a day filming trying to balance out the negatives and the puppy farming concerns - but his contribution was ended up on the cutting room floor! Why?

Another concerned dog lover on Twitter has been very lucky and has received a reply from ITV... but I think it's a standard one as it does not address any of her very valid points.

She wrote:

To: ITV Viewer Services

Super Tiny Animals.
What were you thinking??
Not only did your programme involve poor journalism but you also managed to glorify genetic conditions (when you could of gone down a factual and informative route) and you have also commodified animals in a disgusting level of consumerism.
Do you have any idea how hard animals welfare charities and groups work? And you have quite easily undone there good work RIGHT BEFORE XMAS. This was either very stupid of you or it was a clearly planned PR stunt.
You have been wholly irresponsible with this programme and I will be writing to Ofcom immediately.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
Miss Samantha Edwards.

Dear Samantha
Thank you for your email regarding Super Tiny Animals.
Super Tiny Animals is a documentary about the well-established and well-documented trend for micro-pets both in the US and the UK over recent years.  There are stories about the experiences of individuals breeding, owning and petting micro-pets, which encompass their reasons for their involvement with the animals, the pleasure they derive, as well as the drawbacks and responsibilities inherent in dealing with them.  Within the framework of its focus on the trend there are clear references throughout that informed viewers of the need to deal with responsible breeders, and of the presence within the market of irresponsible ones, make them aware of the health problems some species can encounter, the size that the animals can be expected to reach, the level of care they require and their requirement for owners who are committed to their long-term care
 May I take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to contact us here at ITV as we always welcome viewers’ feedback, and your comments have been registered here at Viewer Services.
 If we can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.
 Kind regards

Hmm, so that's okay then Julia! Let's chew over that claim...

"there are clear references throughout that informed viewers of the need to deal with responsible breeders..."

So why was the only person you interviewed about buying a teacup dog a pet shop owner who actually retails teacup dogs? 
And what nuggets of 'informed' advice did she provide about tracking down responsible breeders?

She cheerfully told the viewers that if you buy carefully, ie from a pet shop, your teacup handbag dog might only have a dash of water on the brain - but you need to buy from someone like her - a pet shop - and not a nasty puppy farm cashing in on a craze fueled by idiots like ITV. 

Ah yes. Very good.
Is ITV stupid or just incredibly ignorant? 

Who do they think supplies pet shops with teacup dogs? 
Responsible, caring breeders or... people cashing in on a trend and breeding small dogs for big profits most probably in a puppy farm - even if it is only an 'iccle one? 

Would they ask a drug dealer about the best way to avoid getting addicted to heroin?

A pet shop that claimed "only 70%" of their customers are suitable to buy one of their dogs.
How discerning!
I'm guessing the other 30% can't afford them.

Did ITV listen to ANY animal welfare organisations before they compiled this prime-time Puppy Farm commercial? 

Have they even heard of the "A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas" campaign?

Who in their right mind planned a programme that profiled a series of totally unsuitable mutant and endangered animals in such a sugar-coated unquestioning early evening format three weeks before Christmas? 
For god's sake, I'm told the poor monkey featured is actually on the on the CITES list!!!  
And why did they edit out the 'balancing' section by vet Marc Abraham?

I think we can all predict what's going to be the Xmas number one requested toy this year and it's not going to Barbie. 

Ironically Dogs Trust launch today their Ho No No campaign ... I quote...

"By the end of this week most children would have written their Christmas wish lists so today Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, is launching its “Ho No No” Campaign to take puppies off the Christmas wish list.  Research from the charity reveals that over a third of children have asked for a puppy as a present and worryingly 16% of parents would buy one if their child put it on their list.
"Dogs Trust believes that part of the reason puppies are considered suitable “gifts” is the fact they are sold so easily though pet shops and websites. Despite repeated pleas not to get a puppy from a pet shop over one third of parents would still look for “that doggy in the window”; 18% get a dog online and 9% would search newspaper ads.
As part of the “Ho, No, No” campaign, Dogs Trust is encouraging people to send a FREE Christmas card to their local pet shop or more high profile outlets such as Harrods to “Stop selling puppies at Christmas time”. This mirrors Dogs Trust’s own policy of stopping rehoming dogs in the run up to Christmas and New Year. Anyone wanting to get involved should visit "

Was ITV out of their Super Tiny Minds? 

The hashtag #supertinyanimals was a car crash of people lusting after micropigs, microdonkeys and microhorses and, of course, teacup handbag pups.

What next, are we to get ITV appointing Rosemary West their expert on keeping your children safe and patio design?

Here's a link to what you get in your teacup that you may not want should you still want one. 

Please pass that link on to Santa's 'iccle helpers and try to dissuade a super tiny disaster in rescue this year. 

Be interested to hear what others thought - especially the welfare world who appear to have had the small matter of their very big concerns ignored.

Here's the link to Ofcom and ITV complaints...
who may be a tiny bit super busy this morning.

Next issue January's Dogs Today (out December 8th) has removed the Perfect Pup section of the magazine and is instead profiles 90 good dogs that have been waiting in rescue for a very, very long time. Our rescue system  is already full to bursting with at least 20 healthy but unwanted dogs being put to sleep every day. 
If only ITV had instead featured this welfare disaster and urged viewers not to buy a puppy for Christmas - big or small.