BBC Panorama – Britain’s Unwanted Pets

Monday 2nd August, 2010 by Compare Pet Care.


Today’s episode of Panorama on BBC One follows the very sad, and alarming story of unwanted pets in Britain. Tom Heap investigates this story through the Battersea Dogs Home, with a shocking insight to the severity of this problem. The rehoming centre had to put down over one third of the dogs they took in last year, just over 2,800 animals, 1,931 of which were fit & healthy.

In a move that sees Battersea releasing it’s figures for the first time since the 90s, the shelter told the BBC programme that they’ve come to the point where enough is enough. Operations Director, Scott Craddock said, “What people are doing to some of these dogs and the state they are coming in to us is completely unacceptable”.

Of the dogs that are unable to be re-homed, the majority are Stafforshire Bull Terriers, and related cross breeds, which suggests that the problem is directly related to a wider problem of ‘Staffie’s’ being seen as a status symbol in modern society. With an increase of Staffordshire Bull Terriers of 850% since 1996, the Metropolitan Police believes the quest to breed some sort of pit bull super-breed, is leaving many of the off-shoots as unwanted, and abandoned.

The RSPCA, Battersea and the Metropolitan Police are now adding further pressure onto the Government to bring in some form of licence scheme paid for by the owner to ensure there is a direct link between the animal and owner. Whether the solution lies in a compulsory licence is yet to be seen, the Government will have their work cut out to bring about a solution that keeps things fair for all pet owners, and remains enforceable across the board.

The previous (Labour) Government’s were planning a compulsory dog tax, but the plug was pulled on the proposal following criticism from the Conservatives that it would push pet insurance costs up for responsible owners.

You can watch the full episode of Panorama, Britain’s Unwanted Pets, on the BBC iPlayer, but be warned that the programme contains some very upsetting scenes.

  • Irene Nicholas

    Dear Tom Heaps,
    I watched your programme on the Unwanted Dogs. A good programme to bring attention to the trading of aggressive dogs at last. However, I would like to bring your attention to something you brought up. The advertising of 1000s of puppies for sale on the Internet. I too was niave enough to think there were a lot…………NOT SO! I am looking to have a Cavalier King Charles puppy, and found 1000s for sale from £300 to £600 each, then a web site came up ( advertising them from £90 to £199, Duly I looked at a few of these. Now these are scams……..get in touch with a few to check this fact out. All are saying the same thing, ‘moved jobs’ ‘family member ill’ ‘moving abroad’ ‘can deliver tomorrow’ I believed them!

    I got several emails back, all very ‘gushy’ all very plausible, All explaining that the dogs were pedigree, with papers, vet checked, jabs up to date, micro-chipped complete with food for the journey with blankets and toys! I began to be concerned! Yes, the 3rd email started aking me for my details, phone no., address, and card no., and told me tahat my chosen puppy would be sent by a Pet Courier the next day. I emailed them back to say I needed their address, and the address of the Courier being used, and said I was not going to pay up front, as I preferred to collect and pay them direct. Guess what… further contact came from them.
    I reported these people to the Police, and the RSPCA. The Police replied saying ‘they had not the resources’ and the RSPCA had an attachment saying ‘can only take 1 email every 5 mins’.

    Could this be the content of a further programme…to expose these people? It is either identity fraud (they have your card details) money fraud (you pay up front and no dog arrives) or indeed as I niavely thought a surplus of litters (possibly from puppy farms), which also need exposing.

    Whichever way, a fraudulent scam which needs exposing!

    Perhaps you have been inundated with emails like mine, but I would like to know if you, and your programme people could bring this to the attention of your viewers. There must be 1000s of people, like me who were almost scammed, and 1000s more who have been, or there would’nt be all those 100s and 100s of ads, as there are so many for each and every breed of dog and also for 1000s of mixed breed dogs!

    Hope this was worth bringing to your attention, and look forward to hearing or seeing some results

    Irene Nicholas

  • Viki

    Hi Irene,

    Many thanks for your comment, we would suggest you contact the BBC Panorama programme directly:


  • Lana V

    bla bla bla! What a pathetic bunch of hypocrites all these shelters are! Just yesterday my husband and I went to the Mayhew cats and dogs home in hope to adopt a cat. Black cat, supposedly the list wanted kind of cat ever, and been refused! Why? We don’t have a garden! The fact that we are both experienced cats owners, and, in fact, own one cat at the moment, was completely ignored! So they rather euthanize the cat then giving it to indoor home! And never mind that we live in SW1 in massive apartment and our current cat is the most happy cat in the world! They were not interested even to pay a visit before making a judgement! Talking about “don’t buy a pet, ADOPT!”

  • Viki

    Thanks for posting, Lana.

    I can understand Shelters wanting to re-home pets with the right owners/locations to prevent the rehomed animals coming back to the shelter, but yes it’s a shame they didn’t make a visit to see for themselves, perhaps it’s down to lack of resources? Have you tried any other shelters Lana? Would be a shame to give up if there’s a cat & shelter out there that you can help.