Britain’s Puppy Boom: Counting the Cost – 18 August 2021 – 18/8/2021 – Wednesday – BBC
Vet Fabian Rivers reveals how the pandemic has triggered a boom in demand for puppies, particularly three breeds – bullies, frenchies and dachshunds. He investigates the complex worlds of these three dog breeds, explores why there is a boom in people buying and breeding ‘popular’ dogs, questions whether it is causing an animal welfare crisis and asks what can be done to help alleviate the problems?
Fabian has witnessed the puppy boom first-hand through his work at a small animal’s veterinary practice in Birmingham. The huge increase in the numbers of people wanting to buy a puppy has resulted in prices going up, which in turn has led to more people breeding dogs and has boosted the relatively new canine fertility industry, with a proliferation of canine fertility clinics offering artificial insemination services for dogs and new training courses that teach people how to do artificial insemination themselves.
Fabian explores the huge price tags for some puppies and what draws people to these popular breeds, unpacks some of the hereditary health and welfare issues the breeds face, and he hears from the Dogs Trust that many puppies bought online are being illegally imported to the UK, requiring tighter regulations needed to improve the situation. Fabian also meets some prospective owners, introducing them to the RSPCA so they can find out the best practice when it comes to buying a new puppy. He also speaks to the RSPCA about the growing problem of dogs having their ears cropped, which has become popular with bully breeds, and highlights how barbaric and damaging this practice is.
To explore the rise in new breeders, Fabian hears from owners about their experiences of breeding their own dogs and the challenges and costs they have faced. He also meets people who have recently opened their own canine fertility clinics and hears concerns about what is being taught on one training course. He also uncovers evidence of worrying, illegal techniques being taught to amateurs on a canine fertility course. After showing footage to a veterinary expert in dog breeding, Fabian takes his findings to the government’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, to discuss what happens next and whether more regulation is needed.
Fabian ends the documentary by revealing how the journey of the young couple wanting to buy a dog has concluded and by offering his insight into what can be done to improve the welfare of the nation’s favourite pet.
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