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.