Wednesday, February 1, 2012


As a footnote to the previous post, take a look at this list advertising Shar Pei pups for sale. Scan down the list looking for "Tacking".

Then ask yourself how we ever got to a situation where it's considered normal to breed puppies who need their facial skin held out of their eyes by tacking it as if someone was taking up the hemline of a skirt.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Born to suffer

I'd like to share a few calls to our branch helpline this week which illustrate exactly why the RSPCA's "Born to Suffer" campaign is so important. 

The first, and most disturbing, came on Sunday evening just after 10 pm. The caller had a Rough Collie puppy with acute liver disease. The pup had been given first aid and initial diagnosis by a Blue Cross animal hospital while she was away from home, and she'd been advised to go to our clinic as soon as possible. Sadly the puppy got much worse over the weekend and was in great distress by the time she called us. 

I very much doubt if he would have survived even if he'd been registered and therefore eligible to be seen by the University Vet School right away, but if our own finances hadn't been so dire I would have authorised the cost of having him put to sleep that night rather than by Wood Green the following morning.

There are a whole load of issues here: inbreeding and line breeding of pedigree dogs which increases the likelihood that they will suffer genetic disease; the ethics of commercial veterinary surgeries with no provision for emergency euthanasia to relieve suffering where an owner has no money; the responsibility of pet owners to set aside enough funds for at least minimal treatment and the responsibility of breeders once a puppy has left their ownership.

This is why we so urgently need to raise enough funds to be able to relieve suffering when no-one else will take responsibility.

The second call came today and is less awful because the puppy concerned is receiving treatment and should end up with reasonable quality of life. He's a Shar Pei and the purchaser was horrified to discover that the "weepy" eye which caused her to take him to a vet was in fact ulcerated and will need surgery to treat the deformed eyelids which are causing his eyelashes to rub and damage the eyeball itself. The surgery's likely to cost her £300-£500 and the breeder is flatly refusing to return any of the pup's purchase price to cover part of it.

Why should he have to suffer this discomfort for something that at the end of the day is simply a fad for wrinkled skin?

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Our shop volunteers are usually a cheerful bunch who take everything in their stride, but one thing they find really stressful is customers who try to beat them down on price. 

Some of those who try this on are pretty obviously dealers, and a few of them will put on quite a lot of pressure when they think they might be able to bully an inexperienced volunteer into letting them have something for much less than it's really worth so they can later sell it on at a profit.

Quite honestly this is sometimes verging on theft—after all, the original donor gave the item to raise money to help animals, not to line someone else's pockets. It's unfair to the volunteer on the till, and if they do give way it potentially loses future donations for the shop because donors won't give worthwhile items if they know they'll be sold at stupidly low prices. Haggling also disrupts the working of the shop because it usually means the person on the till has to call the shop manager for a definite ruling, which means the manager isn't getting on with the back-room work.

In this respect the gift aid system is a bit of a mixed blessing. The way the system works means donors get regular reports on what we've managed to raise from their goods, and we've had some very positive feedback saying how nice it is to know how well the sales went. The downside is that donors will also know if the amount raised is suspiciously low. If that happens regularly they're not going to come back—and there's an underlying concern that they may be wondering if we are pilfering stock.