‘See Them Suckling’ – new campaign by practising vet
‘See Them Suckling’ is a campaign set up by veterinary surgeon Cat Henstridge and Companion Dog World Magazine. Its aim is to educate the public and combat the puppy farm industry. Launched last week on social media, the first stage of the campaign is encouraging people to post pictures of themselves with their pets using the hashtags #poutforpuppies and #seethemsuckling. It’s an eye-catching idea that Cat hopes will chime with people, especially younger ones, who may not have been exposed to much advice about buying puppies.
Cat told me,
I find, meeting animal owners day to day, that the vast majority, although they love their pets a great deal, they don’t know much about responsible buying and are just happy that so many dogs are easily available on-line and just buy the first ones they see.
This depressing reality is one seen daily in veterinary practices across the country and as well as reaching puppy buyers, this campaign seeks to encourage the veterinary profession to get fully on board with the message and help spread it.
It seems to be working seeing these posts on social media
— James Greenwood (@jamespotteryvet) August 20, 2016
— Kayleigh Charman RVN (@KayleighCharman) August 21, 2016
— KilmanyBirder (@kilmanybirder) August 19, 2016
While the campaign is eye-catching, something social media campaigns all rely on, there’s serious advice that also needs pushing. That seeing a puppy with its mother is not enough in today’s puppy market. This was something graphically exposed in the recent BBC Panorama programme: that dealers have been way ahead of the #wheresmum advice for a long time, using stooge dogs to dupe buyers. Simply relying on that message nowadays isn’t something that I, as a campaigner will do, knowing it’s been hijacked. Arguably we risk misleading the public when we know dealers have that question, when asked by novice, or naive buyers well covered.
Members of the veterinary profession are well placed to advise puppy buyers and to see the campaign getting support from many within it is very encouraging. From the British Small Animal Veterinary Association:
“This is a social media campaign that will resonate with a lot of us in the veterinary profession”, says Ross Allan, BSAVA Public Relations Officer. “Those of us working in practice see cases where newly purchased puppies and their unsuspecting owners are paying the price of a cynical disregard for animal welfare by those in the puppy farm trade. Too often we only see these animals after they’ve been bought, so supporting this campaign can help influence prospective owners before they make a potentially devastating mistake that fuels this cruel industry.”
However, even the #seethemsuckling message is not enough, something Cat’s well aware of and we’ve spoken about together. Although it’s a usefully developed and more detailed piece of advice which is great to see being taken up through her campaign it has limitations. Already, the worst, unscrupulous puppy dealers and breeders are shipping in whelping mothers to be seen with puppies while sales are sought. Once the deals are done, the poor mums are back in the sheds, neglected and suffering. Investigators from Puppy Love Campaigns, who are a small handful of people in the UK who have direct, undercover contact with these people and see their tactics up-close, know this hard and nasty reality.
Even seeing the genuine mother is far from any guarantee of good welfare or care. Puppy farmers do sell direct to the public despite what some may think. They don’t all sell to dealers and third parties. They just have sales places which look adequate, and in some cases, professional and impressive, unlike the breeding sheds the public don’t see. So while the #seethemsuckling message is good, the snappy social media approach is great, and I’m supporting it. I’ll also keep adding to it and show the full nightmare of the industry we’re all fighting together. Anything that will help stop the puppy farmers, bad breeders and dealers having the easy open, lucrative market they currently do.
The puppy industry is a horrible, complex one involving massive sums of money. There is no single campaign, or solution on the horizon that will combat it. But it’s good to see this one from a practising vet who is seeking to raise awareness amongst her colleagues and the public take off. I look forward in the coming weeks to seeing it develop and hopefully reach people who despite all our many combined efforts we’re not yet reaching.
To read more, and join the #seethemsuckling and #poutforpuppies campaign visit:
See Them Suckling Website
Get posting your selfies. Mine’s going up soon…maybe…