Grazia, far from graceful
Grazia, translated as ‘grace’, is also the name of a popular UK women’s magazine which has proven more of a dis-grace through the past week to thousands of outraged readers, animal advocates, charities and, well just normal, human beings with a grain of conscience when it comes to animals. This is weird territory for me to be found, seeing as animals of the furry kind aren’t the usual content for a magazine more associated with celebrity trivia, fashion, beauty and other things which lie far outside my usual sphere of interest. I’m only aware of just how trivial and fatuous some of its content is because of the furore caused by an article they published over a week ago. And it’s hit places I’m more normally found on social media – which is not Grazia.
The article entitled “Millenial Hustlers” features a woman who breeds her pet dogs and cats, or as she calls them, her “assets” and makes some “extra pocket money” which to her is the difference between buying Habitat not IKEA furniture. The language in the article is distasteful to those who don’t see their pets, or any companion animals as “cash cats or dogs” and find it hard grappling with just the idea, let alone reality of valuing posher furniture as a reason to put them through a pregnancy. The whole point of the piece is to give examples of “hip young things making money in the coolest of ways” as trumpeted on Twitter by the journalist responsible. If that’s the case, and presumably the editor agrees that casual dog and cat breeding fits this remit, by trivialising breeding in this way in the sole pursuit of making money, it changes a frivolous piece of trash into an example of irresponsible, damaging animal welfare commentary.
I can think of few things cooler than using my pets to pay for my furniture. But, I know that this activity is not unique to this one breeder who was so keen to show off; it’s what drives a lot of breeding today. Many doing it will be smarter – or more sly, take your pick – and never openly say it’s about the money, but of course it is. While there are breeders who are ethically committed to doing things right, and money comes way, way down the list of their motivations for doing what they do, many more are in it only for the money. They just don’t admit it, and certainly not so brazenly. We live in a world where breeding and selling dogs and cats is so slackly regulated it’s easy to see where the idea for this piece came from and here’s the request out on Twitter for people to share their “quirky ways” to supplement their incomes.
“Quirky”? I can think of many ways to describe breeding your pet for easy cash and quirky isn’t one of them. Comments on social media show that far from it being quirky, or aspirational (another key theme of the magazine’s content) it’s a mercenary, shameful idea for a magazine to promote, more akin to pimping and prostituting members of the family.
I followed the story all week, astounded that it took days for Grazia to issue a response and when that came, it did nothing to calm the waters:
“Last week Grazia published an article looking at how more people are making money through a variety of different income streams. One of the stories included in the piece featured a pedigree cat and dog breeder.
We have taken all the feedback and comments for this article on board and we apologise for causing any offence.
In response to some of the comments we have received, we’d also like to make it clear that Grazia in no way promotes or condones irresponsible breeding or unfair treatment to any animal.
We want to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to write to us”.
The trouble with this statement is it gives no recognition to the fact that the article did exactly this: promoted and condoned irresponsible breeding.
Now the person showing off her modern use – or abuse – of her “assets” – is doing what plenty of other people are also doing around the country, week in, week out. Where money is the motivator – and there’s no doubt about it in this case – it’s irresponsible breeding. She does say that she wants to produce healthy animals, although it’s not clear that she means that for the sake of her animals, rather than the “bad rep” she says you’ll get if you don’t. In fact nothing at all appears in the article about the health of the animals involved in this “hip” and “cool” way of making money.
The article galvanised people on social media all week and it’s still ongoing. Largely fuelled by Grazia opting to ignore all requests for a full and decent apology to be printed, or a counter article putting over the issues today in animal rescue, caused by the causal breeding espoused by their article, plus the usual sizeable donation to charity this kind of storm usually brings forth from corporations as a salve to people’s concerns. But nothing yet has seeped out of Grazia, not a single word beyond that bland response on Monday.
But, this magazine reflects a section of society where this is how it goes: do what you want, get what you want, use who and what you want, when you want, ignore the naysayers and all is well in the narrow world of selfish gratification. Sadly, the nation’s cats and dogs are caught up in this pernicious attitude and Grazia has spectacularly demonstrated it, not only with the original article, but also in its response and contemptuous lack of engagement with people expressing concern.
What the week has shown me, is the arrogance of a national magazine that can publish a highly damaging article, and then walk away from its responsibilities, ignoring the many reasonable requests from people wanting them to put it right. It’s the same cocky behaviour that we see in much of the breeding business itself: breed the animals, sell them on, walk away from all responsibility. And further down the line, the buyers may well do the same, discard the dog, walk away from all responsibility – 1 in 5 of people buying a puppy don’t have the dog 3 years later according the RSPCA figures. And it’s this disturbing behaviour and attitude that dogs and cats now have inflicted on them. They have no choice but to be bred from by people who wish to boost their coffers by bringing new lives into the world, selling them on, and doing it again, and again. Where is the country’s moral compass when it comes to pet breeding? It’s certainly nowhere near Grazia right now.
The article in all its vainglory: