On The Prowl
New animal charity launched
Holidaymakers can help animals in need
A NEW animal charity was launched at the end of June to help thousands of sick, starving and abandoned animals across the world – with the help of animal-loving British holidaymakers.
The charity, named Animals Worldwide, has been formed by Suzy Gale, wife of Tory MP Roger Gale, former chairman of the All-Party Committee for Animal Welfare and a long-time campaigner for animal welfare in the UK.
Animals Worldwide is being supported by notable organisations including Dogs Trust, Battersea Cats & Dogs Home, The Kennel Club, Wood Green Animal Shelters, SNIP International & CATSNIP.
In a civilised and modern world images like that of the starving street dog pictured recently in Sicily have no place. Animals Worldwide has been established to assist in the worldwide endeavour to bring such cruelty to animals to an end.
A Starving Street Dog in Sicily
Mrs Gale told OUR CATS: “Animals Worldwide also recognises the value of working and farm animals to the developing world and, therefore, the need to promote the care and welfare of such animals. The larger and internationally recognised animal welfare organisations are doing sterling work but are not well-placed to give hands-on support to such smaller projects.
“There is, therefore, a gap in the provision of care for, particularly, feral and stray cats and dogs and unwanted and discarded equines. The relationship between the economic welfare of many families and their working animals (mules, donkeys and horses) and livestock (cattle, pigs, goats, sheep and chickens) is explicit. If animals suffer and die, humans suffer, starve and die.”
More recently, the charity has also examined, at first-hand, the need to support those engaged in the welfare of working animals and their contribution to very many communities throughout some of the poorest countries in the world.
Mrs Gale adds: “The case for support in terms of veterinary care and education - husbandry and the recognition of animals as sentient beings - is self-evident. Sadly, neither governments, aid agencies nor the public have widely recognised this case and, once again, there is a gap in the provision. Without seeking to ‘re-invent the wheel’ or to duplicate administration or effort, it is this gap that Animals Worldwide has been founded to fill.
“We also believe that an on-going educational programme is essential both for young people in schools and colleges - in the hope that future generations will view animals as sentient beings requiring respect and attention - and for the local veterinary services.”
Animals Worldwide uses as its guide the words of Jeremy Hulme, Chief Executive of SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad): “For far too long there has been a mind-set amongst those involved in emergency relief response which results in little value being placed upon the role of working animals and livestock. Helping animals and people are not mutually exclusive activities.”
With this stark fact in mind, Animals Worldwide will work to raise political awareness, within governments and NGOs, of the importance of making provision for working animals and livestock alongside other emergency relief and aid programmes.
Animals Worldwide also recognises the value and scarcity of scholarship programmes that enable young veterinary graduates from developing countries to spend time in French, British and other university veterinary schools. There is no doubt that the skills, enthusiasms and cultural attitudes exchanged can play a major part in the short and longer-term endeavour to improve working animal welfare and husbandry. Animals Worldwide will seek to promote such scholarships and help to raise funds to provide for them.
Holidaymakers who take pity on starving and abandoned animals in typical holiday countries can also help, says Mrs Gale. “Animals Worldwide also seeks to build relationships with the tourist industry in order to harness the eyes, ears and energies of the holiday making and travelling public to identify both good and bad practice.
“It is clear from the reports of tourists returning to the UK from overseas destinations that there is a keen interest in animal welfare and related issues and that experiences can literally make or break a holiday.
“Animals Worldwide believes that it is therefore in the interest of both the tourist industry and of animal welfare that we recognise and seek to exploit a very significant opportunity to make real progress.
With the co-operation of the tourist industry Animals Worldwide would like, when appropriate, to offer welfare-friendly gradings for resorts and hotels. On the time-honoured principle that ‘one person can make a difference’, Animals Worldwide believes that the co-ordinated dedication and enthusiasm of those already working for animal welfare worldwide and the vast travelling public, the ‘one people’ who care, can be helped to mobilise as an enormous and effective resource.”
Animals Worldwide is now applying for registration as an independent charity and is seeking the active sponsorship of major animal welfare organisations, suppliers to the pet and veterinary industries and practices and from the tourist industry with a view to a public presentation of the Animals International website and an inaugural campaign to coincide with the launch of the 2007 tourist session. Animals Worldwide, with the support of Dogs Trust, Battersea Cats & Dogs Home, The Kennel Club, Wood Green Animal Shelters, SNIP International & CATSNIP, was launched formally at the House of Commons, London on 28 June 2006.
The website www.animalsworldwide.org also “went live” on the launch date of 28 June 2006.
Pampered Pets Are Big Business
BRITONS’ PASSION for pets is fuelling a multi-billion pound business - and we are now spending more than ever before on our furry friends. This was the assessment of the BBC2’s Money Programme, broadcast on Monday, 9 June. According to the programme, latest figures show that the pet market has increased by a staggering 30% over the last six years. It is now worth an estimated £3.8bn, and if this growth continues it is predicted to reach £4.26bn in 2010.
Even though pet ownership is in decline nationally, Britons are still spending more on our animals.
Catriona Marshall, trade and marketing director of the UK’s biggest pet chain Pets at Home, explained that the market is driven by the fact that young couples are taking longer to settle down and have families.
“They are putting off having children,” she said, “and in the meantime having pets and treating them like surrogate children.”
But it’s not only the young and trendy who are cashing in on the act. Older people, known as “empty nesters”, are also pampering their pets and strengthening the market.
“People who have retired are spending their money on their pets and really finding a new lease of life with animals,” added Marshall.
The programme asked what are we splashing our cash on?
The pet food industry alone is worth a whopping £1.9bn. Gone are the days when pets got the leftover scraps from the table and tins of cheap food. Nowadays, dog and cat food is a very sophisticated market.
Walk into any store and you’ll find rows and rows of specially prepared products that are being advertised using mouth-watering language - “succulent meat”, or “slow cooked in gravy” - designed to appeal to the owner rather than the pet.
The ranges of food are bewildering and the pet owner can
choose anything from scientifically formulated life stage products for your puppy and kitten, to specialist food products which claim to boost the health of your pet.
“People want to feel they are they’re feeding absolutely the right type of thing for their pet,” says Marshall.
Companies are finding new and innovative ways to tempt your pet’s taste buds, and with the introduction of organic and human-grade products for your dog, you can be sure that the pet food market is very big business indeed.
Just as pet food has become ever more sophisticated, advances in animal healthcare have also developed tremendously.
Specialist referral centres are able to treat a variety of conditions.
Nowadays animal healthcare isn’t far behind human healthcare and, pets can be treated for cancer, given hip replacements and even fitted with heart pacemakers. These treatments can cost thousand of pounds – but people are prepared to pay the price for their pets’ health and well-being.
Michael Herrtage, Dean of Cambridge University’s Veterinary Hospital, has noticed how some owners are prepared to make big sacrifices to keep their pets alive.
“Some people will go to inordinate lengths to fund the treatment of their pets,” he says. “They might sell their car, forego family holidays, purely and simply so they can fund the treatment of their animals.”
A case study was shown to illustrate the point. Five years ago, Geraldine Alexander’s 12-year-old dog Jasper was diagnosed with chronic arthritis. Jasper was unable to move properly and was in a lot of pain.
Since then, though, regular hydrotherapy sessions have helped him to regain the movement he once lost and he can now run around pain-free.
“He’s a complete dog now,” said Geraldine. “He’s very active for his age, and we want to prolong his life because he gives us a lot of pleasure.”
Dog behaviourist and trainer Carolyn Menteith says that nowadays, people are prepared to fork out more money on treatments and healthcare.
“People recognise that there isn’t an upper limit,” she said. “There isn’t a point where they will say, ‘My dog is worth £2,000 - any more than that and I’m not paying it!’
“People don’t think like that because the pet is seen as a family member.”
The high cost of treatments for a pet has made insurance a booming market too. Just under a quarter of owners now have pet insurance, making this industry a cool £265m a year.
Pet fashion and accessories
But the most surprising growth area is pet fashion and accessories.
It’s big business, and these days man’s best friends can be seen sporting the latest designer fashions.
Big names like Ben De Lisi and Vivienne Westwood are in on the act with their own lines of canine couture.
Sally Brazill-Drewett, of Pets and the City in Greenwich, thinks that the British attitudes towards their pets have changed dramatically.
“I think as Brits we’re not embarrassed anymore to be seen spending money on animals that we love,” she says.
Where America goes...
The programme pointed out that it seems that the love affair with our animals is just beginning… and to see where it could be heading we need only hop over the pond.
In New York, the humanisation of pets has really taken off. Pets here are treated to Barkday Parties (birthday parties for dogs), Doga (Dog Yoga), and even Bark Mitzvahs. Dogs here are pampered like nowhere else. Grooming parlours are a regular feature, and many New Yorkers don’t bat an eyelid at spending a few dollars at a dog spa just to make sure their pooch is looking, and feeling, its very best.
The city even has its own pet bakery. Buttercups Paw-tisserie freshly bakes any number of treats for dogs all over the city.
There is even a luxury hotel for dogs and cats - “The Ritzy Canine Carriage House” - which boasts orthopaedic beds, a rooftop garden and its very own pet menu prepared by a chef.
Back here in the UK, it seems that Britons’ appetite for pleasing our pets will continue and companies are thinking of new and imaginative ways to get us to spend more.
Suddenly “a dog’s life” doesn’t seem a bad prospect.
‘Guilt and Embarrassment’ causing pets to be abandoned
A RECENT survey by one of the UK’s leading animal charities has revealed that some pet owners would feel too guilty and embarrassed to go to experts for help if they could no longer look after their pet.
Seventy-seven per cent of respondents to the survey, conducted by the Blue Cross said they would feel guilty and 23% embarrassed that they could no longer cope. Almost a third felt that they would be judged.
Seventy-four per cent of people questioned by the charity said that they would rather rehome their pet through friends or family than hand it over to a charity like the Blue Cross.
The Blue Cross fears that these feelings could be the cause of animals being abandoned.
The charity wants to reassure pet owners that they will be welcomed and not judged by staff if they take the responsible decision of handing their pet to an animal adoption centre.
Steven Broomfield, regional manager at The Blue Cross said: “We would like to put an end to cats being left in boxes in car parks and dogs be left tied up to fences, by letting people know that if they can no longer cope with their pet, they will be welcomed at our adoption centres.
At The Blue Cross we view owners that bring their pets to us as responsible and we value their input into the process of rehoming their pet. If a centre has space available, any pets will be welcome.”
Cat lovers storm Chinese restaurant
THE EMERGENT and fast-growing animal rights movement in China scored an unlikely victory one weekend in mid June when it invaded a restaurant advertising cat meatballs.
About 40 activists stormed into the Fangji cat meatball restaurant, in Shenzhen, just over the border from Hong Kong, and forced it to close.
Outside, they hung banners that said: “Cats and dogs are friends of humans. Stop eating them, please.”
Attitudes to domestic animals have until recently been seen as one of the great East-West cultural divides. Dogs are a food delicacy in Korea and China.
Cats are eaten less but are a speciality in parts of the south, as are rat, civet cat, spiny anteaters and others.
But animal rights organisations are growing more active as the number of people keeping pets rises.
The owner of the Fangji restaurant said he would stop serving cat. Apparently he had warning of the attack, as no live animals were found on the premises. But a skinned cat was found in the fridge, causing some protesters to burst into tears.