24TH DECEMBER – Today, the dogs need you to read and share our ‘IMAGINE’ blog. Why? Because we can dare to dream.
IMAGINE … THERE ARE NO PUPPY FARMS (it isn’t hard to do)
‘Twas the day before Christmas and in a change from our usual schedule, we journey into a fantasy world. A world without puppy farming and other forms of canine exploitation. What could an idealistic dog world look like and how would it affect dogs, dog lovers, the pet industry, charities and society?
If you’re sitting comfortably, we’ll begin…
Picture in your mind only healthy, well socialised and genetically sound puppies being born – whether pedigrees, cross breeds or mixed breeds. Puppies that are healthy, happy and valued family members; bred from healthy, happy parents, cared for as cherished companions instead of being used as breeding machines and treated like commodities as they were back in 2016 when puppy farming and back street breeding were rampant.
Now, as you might expect these puppies aren’t cheap because they’re not mass produced. But boy are they worth every penny, and also the time people have to wait to buy one because, unlike the bad old days, in this world you can’t just buy a puppy in an instant or on a whim.
You have to put your name down on a waiting list because these carefully bred puppies are only sold to people who can prove they are committed to a lifetime of caring for them as members of their family. Gone are the Dickensian days of puppies being sold in pet shops or advertised on internet classifieds. And you definitely can’t get a puppy delivered to you.
When your puppy is ready, you take home a cute fluffy bundle of joy that is as healthy as possible and has the perfect temperament to be in a family environment with children. Because your puppy has had the best start to life, the whole dog owning experience is a real joy.
In this alternate universe, as a dog guardian (we dispensed with the term ‘owner’ back in 2020) you have a dog licence which provides councils with funds to support and enforce animal welfare in their counties as well as providing dog friendly spaces where you can exercise your canine friend in complete safety.
Every dog has a third generation RFID chip that means all dogs can be tracked (making dog theft virtually impossible). Every dog in the country is accounted for through a central database from the moment he or she is born to the moment they pass away. These chips also prove invaluable in providing their guardians and the veterinary profession with data on how their dogs are feeling, both physically and emotionally, so that they can respond to their needs quickly.
Because these puppies are healthy, with wonderful temperaments and are easy to train – more and more people who once considered that getting a dog was a bit of a lottery, now want a canine companion or two, or three in their lives. Well, because there are no more puppy farms and back street breeders, no more imported pups from puppy farms in Europe and Ireland, to cater for this high canine demand more and more smaller caring, high welfare breeders have emerged.
But what about rescue dogs I hear you ask? Well here’s the really good news. Since people stopped being able to buy cheap, mass produced puppies with health and behaviour problems, they’ve stopped relinquishing their dogs to rescues. Because people have to wait to buy a puppy and pay quite a lot of money for their new friend, the days when people used any old excuse to ditch their dog because they were too much work, too old, they’d become bored with them, or had chosen the wrong type of dog for their lifestyle, are long gone.
Dogs are no longer considered to be fashion accessories either, so breeds never become ‘trends’ that go out of style. Yes, in this alternate universe, people do everything they can to ensure that their loved dog is a dog for life. They can’t imagine parting with them for any reason. In fact the only dogs that still do end up in care centres are there because their owners have passed away or have gone into care homes and no other family members are suitable or willing guardians. But these few dogs are never without a home for long because dogs of all ages and sizes are so valued in this world.
There are no strays or dumped dogs either, because every dog born is accounted for and every guardian is accountable for ensuring they are kept safe, healthy and cared for.
Breed Specific Legislation no longer exists because it was finally understood that controlling canine aggression and biting wasn’t about a ‘breed’ at all, but about ‘breeding’ and education. And as puppy farming no longer exists, it’s no coincidence that reports of dog bites are now almost unheard of.
Greyhound racing has also been consigned to the history books having been replaced by virtual dog racing, so the gambling industry can still rake in billions of pounds without having blood on its hands.
Service dogs such as those who help sniff out drugs, search for missing people, detect cancer or assist the disabled now have special legal status, with penalties of life imprisonment for anyone deliberately seeking to harm them. While anyone found guilty of hurting an animal is now given a custodial sentence of 10 years without parole and banned for life from keeping any animals. Such deterrents have seen very few instances of animal cruelty since being introduced.
An added bonus for dogs themselves is that the complex health problems certain breeds had once been forced to suffer through misguided breeding standards and human vanity – you know the ones that left flat faced dogs like Pugs unable to breathe properly, Cavaliers with skulls too small for their brains and German Shepherds with sloping backs that left them crippled – have finally, completely been eradicated.
Of course, this idyllic new world also means that without a constant supply of dogs needing to be rehomed – and unlike back in the day when big charities had to raise millions from public donations to open more and more new state of the art kennels – these big centres have been able to close their doors.
With most dogs now staying with their families for life and more people wanting at least one dog in their family, the pet industry has flourished. People spend more and more on their adored friends for many more years. As dogs now live longer, healthier lives, the UK has become totally dog friendly so people don’t have to leave their four legged friends at home as much as they once did. And those companies that allow people to bring their dogs to work find their employees are more productive and contented as a result.
Another cool side effect is significantly lower premiums on pet insurance because dogs don’t get ill so often, and it’s only when they have unfortunate accidents and hurt themselves that they really need expensive veterinary treatment.
Our utopian UK dog world is full of people who have been well-educated about caring for and respecting our non-human friends because animal welfare has been part of the school curriculum for decades now.
Science has moved on from testing on all animals and so our beagle friends and others dog breeds who were once tortured for the pharmaceutical industry’s benefit, never have to fear being used in laboratories ever again.
And so, in this wonderful, idyllic world for our best friends, the long-held knowledge that pets are good for people can now finally be returned, because at last people are also good for pets.
Just imagine …
Of course, people of a certain age might say that some things in this fantastical future dog world are reminiscent of a bygone era. Before everything was mass produced and disposable. Before the internet. Before we knew the cost of everything and the value of nothing …
To those who are campaigning just as hard to end all other forms of animal abuse, never give up. However hard the battle and however many unreasonable obstacles are thrown at you, you are the only hope that one day we might live in a kinder, safer world where all sentient beings can exist without fear, pain or suffering.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that people once branded those who said they wanted to land on the moon as fantasists and idealists. But man did walk on the moon because someone, somewhere had the passion and will to make it a reality.
Read more about our Defra December campaign here.