It is traditional at this time of year to offer good wishes for the festive season. For those of us who campaign in dog welfare it is often a difficult time of year. The puppy trade (both legitimate and illegal) thrives on impulse purchases of dogs, the novelty of which too often wears off before the turkey leftovers are even finished.
We don’t mind being known as critics of the Dogs Trust and their much vaunted strapline “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas”, because we feel strongly it actually sends out the wrong message. Dogs are not for Christmas, full stop.
Hectic Run-up to Christmas
The run up to Christmas 2016 has provided some hope however. There was a fabulous debate in the Scottish Parliament, introduced by Emma Harper MSP , which put the trade under the spotlight most effectively.
There have been many excellent blog pieces by welfare campaigning vet Cat Henstridge over at her blog Cat the Vet which are well worth sharing widely.
CARIAD has devised a simply brilliant Advent Calendar for Defra, in every hope that the ministers will listen to those working in the frontline, and also will listen to Efra. The Efra report calls for a ban on third party selling as one important element of our ammunition with which to fight this heinous trade.
We believe that small, independent campaigners can contribute a great deal to welfare reform and should be cherished. There is much inspiring work being done by anti-greyhound racing groups for instance, such as Caged NW. And of course campaigning vet Marc Abraham has had yet another year where he refuses to take no for an answer in his crusade for a better start in life for all dogs.
But the larger welfare organisations are not all about vested interests and two pieces of work that we feel are well worthy of your attention include the annual PAW report from PDSA. We are sorry that Sean Wensley of the PDSA is now no longer the President of the BVA. His year in office has proved to be a very productive one for dogs, not least on his leadership in challenging the cultural and social standing of brachycephalic dogs. But we look forward to working with his successor Gudrun Ravetz.
Blue Cross recently produced a report into the puppy trade Unpicking the Knots which included some excellent collaborative work on data with Gumtree. This reveals that where there is a will to work together, across stakeholders, it can be done. We hope there will be much more of this collective effort in 2017.
Recharge your campaigning batteries
So thank you to all of you who dedicated time and resources to welfare reform, no matter how large or small your organisation. We wish you all every happiness this Christmas. But most of all we wish you a few days rest. Recharge those batteries. The most effective weapon we all have in our battle to improve dog health and welfare is simply tenacity. Never give up. Don’t go away. Stick at it.
We may not have achieved all we set out to in 2016. That does not mean we can’t return in 2017 with some even more ambitious aims. The Karlton Index looks forward to working alongside all who roll up their sleeves and get stuck into the challenging arena of dog welfare.