Concerning the BBC3 documentary “Will my puppies make me rich?”, I have emailed the students who pitched this idea to ask if we can help. I am hoping they get in touch.
Perhaps we can get them to make a show that reflects dogs are family and should be bred with love and great care. It would be great to produce something aimed at younger people that challenges the way dogs are produced – I am not sure they yet realise how huge this topic is.
If they did this well, it could be a game changer; if they do it badly, it could just add to the chaos. Here’s some of what I said.
There are worrying signs of a puppy tsunami next year. Due to lockdown lots of people who had been putting off getting a dog accelerated their plans and this caused a puppy drought. Legislation like Lucy’s Law looked likely to hit the puppy farmers hard and they had started to scale down – which was great for animal welfare, as these people treat dogs like commodities, the poor mums live a life of breeding slavery never knowing what it is to be loved.
But instead of these monsters moving into another ‘product’ to exploit: lockdown taught them how to cut out the middle men and sell direct legally, using Defra-approved couriers. And they were the ones who encouraged gazumping as pups got more scarce, dropping people who had a pupies reserved if they could sell them for more.
Even sensible people were on the free sites, and there were as many wanted ads as litters for sale. Pet theft spiralled, with criminal gangs stealing mums and pups with the same amount of planning as if they doing a bank heist.
Even really disreputable people can’t breed dogs before they come into season, so new breeding bitches will have a year or so of being fed before they start producing. Dogs come into season twice a year at most, and then there is a nine week wait for pups to be born and then eight more weeks before they can be sold.
So the bulk puppy breeders couldn’t instantly up their production to meet demand – but they will have started expansion anticipating the higher prices and a public eager to buy in huge numbers. They all will have had exactly the same idea.
If the economy stutters next year and jobs are hard to find, lots of people will struggle to afford a puppy and those ridiculous prices will drop like a stone. Puppy breeders will find themselves not just in the doggie version of negative equity, but they could find themselves with litters getting past their sell-by date and no buyers.
Then there are the ‘entrepreneurial’ pet owners attracted by all those noughts in the ads on Pets4Homes, probably often breeding for the first time without any appreciation of how much work is involved or what tests they should have done – 2021 is, I fear, going to be the year of the dog for all the wrong reasons.
Purchase price is only a tiny fraction of the cost of ownership and unemployment could soon be a problem. The charities that used to fund vet care for the unemployed are already stretched so thin that they have had to cut the services they are able to offer; the RSPCA has just closed one of their hospitals.
It could be a puppy pandemic. I have recently joined tech start-up Tailwise.com as a sort of doggie furry dogmother as I want to disrupt the way we buy dogs.
Protect the dog from boom and bust. I want to see the day that every pup that is bred is reared in a home by someone who loves mum and does everything they can to rear happy healthy pets. I’d like an end to battery farming of our precious dogs and the vile breeding slavery that exploits the mums.
Intelligent home rearing should be not just the norm, it should be regarded as the elite and there are ways you can do it brilliantly. There are people ‘home schooling’ their puppies so that at eight weeks they go to their new homes already house trained to go on command in a dog toilet. They are preconditioned not to be scared of fireworks.
Perspective owners are given prenatal classes. These breeders research the best way to rear the puppies and do so many more health tests than anyone else and they keep in touch with every puppy owner for the whole of the pup’s life. Make a show celebrating the small progressive breeder. Make that aspirational.
Let’s encourage the next generation to be aware of provenance and seek out people who do all they can to breed brilliant pets, reared with positivity to love people and already ready to live in a home having been given the best possible start. The poor battery farmed puppies only learn to pee and poo where they sleep and that no one comes if you bark.
The image of the dog breeder of being an old lady wearing tweed and smelling faintly of Winalot could not be less accurate. Some of the ambassador breeders have a wonderful life and very, very happy dogs and owners.
Wouldn’t that make great TV, showing all those five-week-old puppies loving learning how to be good dogs?