Actions for Animals - August
Summer - finally! And we've even seen a bit of sun. Imagine that!
A few animal welfare related issues have come to our attention this Summer that make up this month's Actions for Animals. We've noticed a lot of people adding puppies to their families, too many missing animals and have been invited to more than our fair share of BBQs. So here we go... here are three things you can do this month to help animals.
Learn the truth about puppy farms
With children out of school and the hope of better weather and more time spent outside, many families decide Summer is the best time to add a puppy to their home. Like fashion, dog breeds come in and out of "style". There is always a breed or two that is super popular and everyone seems to want one. Pugs and French bulldogs are the breeds of the moment and breeders are producing them at an alarming rate. When you see a tiny, adorable puppy and you know the only thing separating you from non-stop cuddles and puppy breath kisses is a wad of cash, it can be difficult to think about where the pup came from, but please, for the sake of the pups and their mums, do your research (and share what you learn).
Puppy farms and irresponsible breeders are high-volume breeders who value the money they can make from the sale of puppies over the welfare of the animals. Mums and pups are kept in small cages often with no light, no socialisation and are often forced to sleep in their own waste. Breeders not only breed with little concern for health issues that may be passed from parents to puppy, but also with no concern to the consequences of constant pregnancy on mums.
According to the Kennel Club, 41% of people who purchased a puppy in the last year did not see the puppy with his mother and 53% never saw the breeding environment. Due to poor breeding conditions, 20% of puppies who are sold in stores or over the internet have the often-fatal parvovirus.
If you or someone you know is looking to buy a puppy, please make sure at the very least to:
Ask to see the pup's mum and the two interacting with each other
See the breeding environment. What are the animal's living conditions?
Do not accept to take the puppy home before they are at least eight weeks of age.
Learn more about avoiding buying from a puppy farm or irresponsible breeder from PupAid.
If you can stomach it, watch Panorama's 2016 investigation on puppy farm.
Be an extra set of eyes for missing animals
We've heard about so many missing pets in the last few months. Warm weather means doors and windows are often left open, people are coming and going from back gardens leaving gates open, and sheds and outbuildings are open in the day and closed in the evening. All of this adds up to dogs escaping and cats wandering into neighbour's outbuildings when they are open and accidentally being locked-in when they are closed. Other than checking your own sheds and outbuildings before closing them and keeping close tabs on your own animals, there is something simple and quick that you can do to help animals in your area - become a Pet Patroller.
Animal Search UK is the UK's largest missing pet organisation and maintains a database of lost and found animals. When an animal is reported as lost or found, they send an alert via email to the Pet Patrollers in the surrounding area so you can share with others and keep an eye out for missing pets. Registering as a Pet Patroller takes a matter of minutes and you will also be kept up-to-date if the guardian (owner) provides an update to Animal Search UK.
A lot of pet guardians also count on the huge reach of Facebook to look for their missing pets. Many counties/areas/cities have Facebook groups where lost and found pets can be posted - consider joining one of these near you and share if/when a pet is missing or has been found in your local area.
Consider your burger choices
So you're hosting a BBQ. You head to your local supermarket to buy burgers, sausages, and maybe some chicken to slap on the grill. Assuming the shelves haven't been raided at the first sight of sun, you have loads of choice... how do you choose which products to buy? Do you go for the cheapest, biggest pack of burgers? The healthiest sausages? Or do you look a bit closer at the small print on the packaging to learn about the living conditions of the animals before they became a burger or a sausage?
This action may be a challenge for some, but for the sake of the animals, please take a bit of time to see what is available:
Look for beef that is grass fed, free-range and outdoor reared pork and free-range chicken. These keywords ensure that the animals were raised with access to the outdoors before slaughter.
Check the packages for the Soil Association logo - animals that were raised to Soil Association standards lived in less crowded conditions, were given higher quality food and less antibiotics, and their eventual transportation and slaughter is more humane.
A common argument against higher-welfare food is price, and we understand this. It will be more expensive, but if the welfare of farm animals is important to you, buying high-welfare burgers is a great reason to skip an invitation for that neighbour who always overstays his welcome. :)