Pupaid – Could 2014 be THE year?

Puppy farming is defined as ‘a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare and is often in substandard conditions regarding the well-being of dogs in their care’. And yes its a big problem here in the UK.

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This is something that makes most animal lovers angry and sad – why does this go on in an animal loving country like the UK? But the problem is that a lot of people don’t know about it – websites like Gumtree advertising cute puppies, pet shops (even those luxury ones) that sell puppies – they all come from puppy farms. Step in TV vet and animal welfare campaigner Marc Abraham (or Marc the vet as he’s more commonly known). He is the man behind Pupaid – the UK’s biggest anti puppy farming event.

Lovesniffy’s met up with him recently in primrose Hill – home to this years event…

“I was working in an emergency vet clinic a number of years ago now, and I noticed that we were getting more and more cases of sick puppies coming in and an increase of them having parvovirus. I started studying puppy farms on the internet to see what they were all about and how, if at all, they were regulated. To say I was shocked when I saw my first puppy farm is an understatement. I had to do something. I knew that there was a puppy mill awareness day in the US, so decided to start one here. I actually came up with the idea in the bath…”Marc-Abraham

From the bath to Brighton racecourse, Marc put on his first event in 2009. When MP Caroline Lucas turned up Marc knew his passion was gaining support,

“The first event was the called worlds biggest puppy party, I had no idea if anyone would turn up to be honest. But people did and were so supportive that I knew this was a cause that wasn’t one I was going to have to battle on my own. Since then the worlds biggest puppy party became Pupaid and we’ve had stars like Bob Geldolf talk about it, Ricky Gervais tweets about it and Liam Gallagher, Pual Weller and Brian May signed a guitar that was auctioned off – the support has been incredible”.

(There was also some air guitar with Brian May in his garden but thats another story!)

Since then Pupaid has moved to London and the event has taken place in Primrose Hill. This year’s event is certain to be the biggest so far with more interest, stars and trade coming than ever before.pupaid

As far as the campaign goes, 2014 is by far the biggest year in it’s history with the debate taking place in parliament tomorrow after the e-petition to stop the sale of puppies without their mothers present reached well over its 100,000 signature target.

“We need everyone’s support – we want puppy farming to become a thing of the past in the UK and its possible to achieve – in the US dog mad states like Los Angeles have banned the sale of dogs in shops. We can do it”.

Be part of Pupaid’s campaign – make sure your MP is taking part in the debate tomorrow and lets make puppy farms a thing of the past. If you’re unsure what to do visit the Pupaid website for all the info.

Join us at the UK’s biggest anti puppy farming event in Primrose Hill on September 6th and be part of something that will change animal welfare in the UK for the better. Lovesniffy’s are very proud to be a part of and support Pupaid.Pupaid

For more information visit Pupaid

Always remember the following when buying a puppy:

Only buy a puppy if:

You can see puppy interacting with mum
It’s a breeder recommended by the Kennel Club (preferably Assured Breeder)
It’s a rescue centre that’s a registered charity
Be suspicious of a puppy farmed pup if:

Mum isn’t there (she’s most likely miles away on cruel puppy farm)
You’re told mum’s at the vet, been run over, sick, basically anywhere else
Price is either very cheap (£100-£350) or very expensive (£2000-£7000)
Pup is being sold in a pet shop or garden centre

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Rescue Dog Files…Honey

Hello my name is Honey.  HONEY LARGE

I am an adorable 2 year old Brussels Griffon cross.

I am quite a happy, excitable young lady who loves to play and enjoys going out for long walks.

I really love having company and like to be kept occupied so I would benefit from an owner who has lots of time to give me all the love and attention I need. I really like treats and I am keen to learn so would benefit from some all-round reward based training once I’ve has settled into my new home.

HONEY

I am quite excitable and full of beans so will make a lovely addition to an active home where I can be given lots of exercise and have my mind kept busy.

I would like to be the only pet in the home.

Honey is currently at the National Animal Welfare Trust in Hertfordshire – do get in touch with them if you can offer this lovely girl a home.

Rehoming A Rescue Dog

As many of you who read our blog will know we are big fans of animal rescue and are very passionate about the rescuing and rehoming of abandoned dogs. Living in North London we have two fantastic charities on our doorstep that we work with – The Mayhew Animal Home and All Dogs Matter.

Nacho when he was found

Nacho when he was found

Our first dog Nacho came from the Mayhew – he was found in a bin bag at just a few weeks old. Nacho was our first dog and after getting him at 3 months we were getting used to the toilet training and those little razor teeth. Four years on Nacho is a dream dog and he comes everywhere with us.

Nacho at a past Doggy Sunday

Nacho now enjoying the life of riley!

We have been thinking about getting a second dog for a long time but have always been nervous as Nacho isn’t generally over keen on other dogs. This all changed when little Twiglet arrived at our house. From the moment she walked in Nacho was in love and that hasn’t stopped in over a week.

Around 2 years old and a proper Heinz 57, Twiglet was found wandering by a motorway and taken in by All Dogs Matter. When we first met her she was nervous and very shaky. Well a week on – she’s been on a weekend to Cornwall and now sleeps in bed with Nacho. The shakes have gone, she is great off lead and is eating well. Nacho is very food possessive and they ended up sharing a bowl yesterday! We think she may have been hit previously as she cowers when Sam goes to put a lead on for walks. However this is improving daily and she now wants to sit on his lap.Twiglet

We are big fans of positive reinforcement training and this is working wonders for her recall as she gets used to her name and is also working with toilet training. So far we have only had one accident in a week – pretty impressive I think.

If you’ve ever considered getting a rescue dog but were put off by the possibility of erratic behaviour or past trauma all I can say is give a rescue dog a chance. Twiglet has not had a good start to life but is a joy to have in our home. She settled (sleeping by me right now) in right away, eats her food with gusto and loves Nacho. It’s as if she has always lived in our house. Part of me thinks she is so pleased to finally have a home she can relax in and part of me likes to think she was always meant to end up here.

Over 20 dogs are put to sleep every day in the UK so why buy when you can adopt and save a dogs life? You can get all types of breeds from rescue centres – Ive seen everything from Cockapoo’s, pugs, shelties and chihuahuas. People pay thousands of pounds for a puppy when a perfectly healthy dog that just wants a loving home is waiting round the corner. The myth that rescue centres wont give dogs to people who live in flats, have young kids or work are false. We don’t have a garden, work and have visiting children.

The trend of buying dogs from the internet or in a shop is a worrying one and one that we want to see an end to. Dogs should never be sold in shops – chances are they are from a puppy farm and in poor health (see our previous posts about Pupaid) Something you will never get from a rescue as they will have been vet checked and vaccinated.

I can highly recommend The Mayhew Animal Home and All Dogs Matter, and all the other rescue centres out there saving these beautiful dogs.

Just look how happy these two are…

 

 

Animals Asia

I’ve been trying to write this blog ever since I returned from Chengdu and my visit to the amazing bears. Why am I finding it so difficult? It’s the bears – I just don’t know how to sum them up. Majestic creatures – yes. Awe inspiring – yes, but that doesn’t really go far enough. The trip has had a major effect on me – just as many people told me it would, just as it does on everyone that visits.

I don’t want this blog to simply be a diary of my trip I really want to tell you the bears’ story along side that of the utterly magnificent Jill Robinson.

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I have never met anyone like Jill.

Having started campaigning for the welfare of moon bears in 1993, and moving to rescue them from 1994, Animals Asia have rescued over 400 bears and have sanctuaries in both China and Vietnam. One woman started this charity with a vision of ending the bear bile trade in Asia.Image

Jill is recognised as one of the worlds leading experts on the trade and yet when you meet her it is the absence of ego that you first notice; she is eager to listen even to the untrained and goggle-eyed-tourist that was me. Her passion for the bears is clear to see and spending time with her at the sanctuary was a very special thing indeed.

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The sanctuary itself is a tranquil place made up of zones housing different bears. Some need their own space like the beautiful brown bear Oliver.

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Oliver is a very special brown bear that was in a cage for 30 years. 30 years in a cage being drained of his bile every day. He now ambles slowly (due to his legs being very obviously damaged) around his own little piece of paradise and while we observe him taking drinks from a little pond in his enclosure. The fact he is still alive is nothing short of a miracle and still brings a smile to Jill’s face.

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Another bear that moved me was beautiful Bluebell. We had been walking around the sanctuary for most of the day and had seen the wonderful Peter Egan’s namesake Peter bear. We were in this part of the sanctuary at a particular feeding time and there were a few bears eagerly waiting for their food. This is where we saw for the first time some stereotypical, caged bear behaviour – displayed at this point in time a swaying of the head or pacing – a coping mechanism if you like. This was the time when I saw Bluebell, a beautiful lady missing a leg and an eye. It was her face that tipped me over the edge – the cruelty these bears have had to endure which will obviously never leave them really hit home. It must be one of the cruelest things man does to an animal – trap them in a cage for their natural life to drain them dry.Image

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Seeing a moon bear close up for the first time is difficult to describe. They are like no other creature I’ve ever come across. You can tell these large fur balls mean business – they have claws that could rip your arm off in a second and yet all you want to do is give them a hug (we did not do this!). They are strong and elegant creatures but the most remarkable thing about these bears is their willingness to forgive.Image

Some had been locked in cages for the majority of their lives, cramped and unable to move whilst being tortured to extract their bile, but we witnessed Bamse the bear having blood taken. After all he had been through he voluntarily put his arm into a hole so the needle could draw the blood – the only thing needed for a little persuasion was condensed milk (might suggest this to my Doctor!). It was truly humbling sight, particularly because this is not something could have happened overnight. A long process is undertaken with each bear, built on trust, (condensed milk) and the kindness of the staff. This really demonstrated the values of Animals Asia to me. The time and love spent on each and every bear is what makes this place truly remarkable.

At the sanctuary the bears move around freely, foraging for food as part of their enrichment programme.

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The staff put various fruits and vegetables in sometimes difficult to reach places so the bears have to find the food, thus stimulating their natural instincts. This is done daily, but never repetitively in the same place. Animals Asia methods are all about trying to provide as natural a habitat as possible. This is not a zoo; Theres no petting, No stroking and no posed pictures with a bear here, and the only part of the sanctuary’s activities that don’t mimic the wild are to do with the bears health.

The bears have a health check every 2 years – checking teeth, mobility and scanning for any disease and I was lucky enough to see Harley’s health check up close. I wont go into the details as not being from a veterinary background I observed with fascination as the team, along with my travel buddy Marc Abraham (or Marc the vet) set about doing the various checks (which Im sure Marc will tell you about in his blog). The health check really was fascinating – seeing Harley up close was amazing. His fur was quite corse and his hands and feet so soft – a bit like the back of a dogs pads.

Image I saw harley’s scars from where the bile was extracted and felt how hard that part of him was compared to the rest and where he had been biting the bars of his previous prison making groves in his teeth.

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The care with which the health check was carried out was remarkable – his hands and his foot (Harley only has one leg) were covered in knitted water bottle type covers to keep him warm. I was also lucky enough to give harley’s nails a bit of a trim!

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Harley had to have a tooth extracted which was a long and tricky process due to the size of the teeth. However when we saw Harley the next day he was chomping down on a carrot!

As we walked around the sanctuary Jill showed us the grave yard and memorial which was very moving. Local staff visit and tend to the bears graves – each one bearing the mark of the moon bears – of course the Chinese love these bears just as much as Jill does.

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The great thing is that attitudes in China are changing. When I visited only seven years ago there were around 10 animal welfare charities. There are now, in 2013, more than 100 animal welfare groups in the country. Animals Asia help educate the former and even current farmers of bears. It is that willingness to engage has won them great advancements in the cause and now the Chinese government is on side in the fight against the bear bile trade.

Of course its not just the bears that Animals Asia help – they help fight the dog meat trade and are encouraging therapy sessions in their Doctor Dog programme – I will bring you more on this in Part 2 of this blog.

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Pupaid – A Gandy old day on Primrose Hill

Getting up at 5 in the morning on a Saturday is never usually that easy. Well this past weekend was an exception as it was the amazing Pupaid event in Primrose Hill.

Raising awareness of the cruelty of puppy farming with an online petition garnering public support daily, here at Sniffy’s we were very excited to meet lots of like minded doggy people and we were not disappointed. The day started off with everyone helping each other set up, grabbing cups of tea and smiling even when the heavens opened.

The day got brighter as did the smiles of all the dog loving members of the public, stall holders and celebrities that descended on Primrose Hill. A lovely taste tester

Walking around there was an array of doggy shopping options including the fab Snaffles biscuits all the way from Brighton, Nina’s Nannies for pets who did a great raffle, Urban Mutts who made us feel very lazy! the brilliant Doggity team and the lovely City Pups. There were also lots of other charities supporting Pupaid including Sniffy’s fave’s Animals Asia, The Mayhew Animal Home, All Dogs Matter and the Born Free FoundationOpening wide for a Carrot and Polenta...

Doggy competitions were the focus in the central ring with categories such as Best Rescue judged by everyones favourite animal welfare advocate Peter Egan and new kids on the block ‘Life with Pets’ magazine. Others included Most Stylish, Prettiest Bitch and Sniffy’s category ‘Best Trick’. Never having judged at a dog show before, we can safely say it’s a very difficult task and really wanted to give everyone a prize; although the winner could make her dog do tricks we can only dream of Nacho ever being able to do!

The winners of 'Best Trick'As the day grew to a close it was announced the petition had gained even more support and with celebrities in attendance including the oh so handsome model David Gandy(pictured below), beautiful Elle McPherson, recently announced Strictly star Abbey Clancey and her husband Peter Crouch, Gail porter, Mary Portas and big supporter Meg Matthews – its no surprise Pupaid is finally gaining the attention it so richly deserves (links to the articles appearing in the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Mirror).

Just your average looking fella...

When the last dog had left and Primrose Hill had returned to normal Sniffy’s had a wee drink with Marc Abraham and his wonderful team who were obviously exhausted but delighted with the turnout.

It just leaves me to say a massive thank you to them for organising a fantastic day and more importantly getting the message out there – puppy farmers beware – the british public are coming for you!

If you havent already – sign the petition here

If you havent seen the fantastic Pupaid ‘Crazy Puppy Party’ video then what are you waiting for – click here

Nowzad – Part 2

Its easy just to think of Afghanistan as a war torn wasteland – a land which people see on the news and forget about. Another day, another bomb. For Pen Farthing its not an option of turning over the channel and ignoring whats going on. He lives and breathes Afghanistan. Not from a Royal Marine’s point of view anymore, but from a man trying to make a difference.

Pen Farthing where it all started.

Pen Farthing where it all started.

He is the man behind Nowzad – the only recognised animal shelter in the land. But its not just about the animals, its about giving the people of Afghanistan hope and something to care about again. Thats why Pen Farthing couldnt walk away – and why Peter Egan went to join him.

We caught up with Peter after his trip, which had obviously had an impact on him, “The team that Pen has working for him are incredible and clearly love both the animals and their jobs. A great export from Great Britain is animal welfare; wherever you go in the world you will find Brits trying to solve issues to do with animal cruelty.”

Here is Pen Farthing doing just that…

Peter continues, “Pen is another of those great eccentric British animal lovers trying to make a difference.  I have great admiration for him as I do for Jill Robinson, who does such great work for bears, dogs and cats in China. I feel blessed to know and be able to offer them my support”.

Here Peter is doing exactly that, when he meets Jo – a very special rescue, that would most certainly have died without Nowzad.

As Peter’s trip was coming to an end he was told of the news that Nowzad could be in trouble. The lease on the land they use is ending and they need to move by September otherwise the vital role they play in Afghanistan will not be able to continue. Peter explains,

One of the many Nowzad rescues

One of the many Nowzad rescues

 “Its very sad that they have to move – its a perfect site for them. Its not the shelter that has to move,   but the site which offers accommodation to Louise Hastie who is the general manager when Pen is away fundraising, and is the site for their clinic and emergency shelter. If Nowzad isnt supoorted there will not be an animal charity in Afghanistan.

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The Magnificent 7 – 7 pups that came from a base.

Pen is extending his work into the community and introducing animal welfare and husbandry to working animals. It is vital that he continues to share the importance of animal welfare to the local community, and how rewarding a reciprocal relationship between man and animals is.

They deserve as much help as they can get and need our support now.”

Pen farthing and Nowzad have been doing great things in Afghanistan for a number of years but to continue they need to raise £100,000.

You can donate here

Many thanks to Peter Egan for the interview, South West London TV for the videos, and to Wetnose Animal Aid for organising such an important trip.

Special thanks to Pen Farthing and all at Nowzad for giving the animals and people of Afghanistan hope.

Animals Asia and the floods

Earlier this year I had the great pleasure of attending a screening of the award winning film “Cages of Shame’. This short film is the story of bear bile farming in China, the mission to save ten bears and close down a bear farm. It shows the very essence of Animals Asia and how much they care.

The Odeon Lounge Bayswater

The Odeon Lounge Bayswater

Rula Lenska, Lesley Nicol, Jill Robinson and Peter Egan

Rula Lenska, Lesley Nicol, Jill Robinson and Peter Egan

Whilst the film is not an easy watch, it highlights the amazing work that a dedicated team of people do to save one of man’s most beautiful creatures.

The film made a lasting impression on me – seeing people put their heart and soul into such a worthwhile cause made me want to do more.

The film also dramatically changed the way I view China. China has, and always will be a country that fascinates me. I spent much time travelling there and am no happier than when Im reading a chinese book (in translation Im afraid). However their view on animals was something I found hard to take – informed by things Id read, some things I’d seen and word of mouth.

However seeing the Chinese people going out of their way in this film was heartening and actually shows how wrong I was. The people want change and Animals Asia are helping them to do this.

Im guessing if you’re reading this post you’re interested in Animals Asia or at least want to find out more. Well now is the perfect time as they need our help more than ever.

Floods have recently devastated the sanctuary in China to such an extent that if the money isnt raised in time to rebuild parts of the sanctuary they could really be in trouble. With over a month of the rainy season remaining, urgent repairs are needed.

Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson commented: “The team reacted quickly to rapidly changing circumstances  as the river rose during the heaviest of rains and the release of water from the dam upstream.  Our longstanding flooding protocols proved up to the task and were implemented superbly by the team in the most extreme of conditions. Now we need to repair the riverbank urgently and further strengthen it so that, as weather patterns continue to change, we can be proactive in the ongoing prevention of future floods.”

Jill continues, “Our staff excelled in keeping the bears safe, dry and blissfully unaware in their beds throughout the ordeal.  Floods such as this are rare, but with weather patterns changing globally and here in China, we must ensure that urgent repairs and reinforcements guarantee the safety of staff and animals, and the future of the sanctuary itself.”

To donate to help with the repairs and save wonderful bears like Misty and Rain below then click here

Warning – these bears are incredibly cute!

Animals Asia dont just save these amazing bears, they also save dogs and have implemented a programme in China, similar to Pets as therapy here in the UK. Sniffy’s are very excited to be going out to see the work they do in the near future!

Pup Idol – All Dogs Matter

The sun was shining in leafy hampstead on Saturday for the 4th Pup Idol event for the charity All Dogs Matter. They do amazing work saving strays from the pound and helping the dogs of North London find homes.

The Spaniards Inn played host to an array of dogs and their owners all competing for the coveted titles of Mr hampstead / best dressed and cutest puppy (amongst others).

One of the winners of the veteran dogs. Blind but very happy with such a waggy tail

One of the winners of the veteran dogs – Blind due to Glaucoma but very happy nonetheless

Winner of Mr Hampstead

Mr hampstead: Percy

The winner of the hotly contested Mr hampstead was Percy, owned by Angela and Martin Humphery. A win that is absolutely deserved for eight year old Percy. Percy is a rescued greyhound from Spain and only last year would have found the atmosphere of an event like this very distressing. You can find out more about Percy here

We also caught up with one of our favourite competitors, and probably one of Sniffy’s smallest fans, the gorgeous Chanel, pictured here with her owner.

Chanel

We were delighted to be able to give owners some of our tasty treats as they arrived to register for each category and also to the winners in their goody bags. Nom Nom!

One of the winners with their goody bag

One of the winners with their goody bag

The judging team, who had the difficulty of choosing between all the gorgeous doggies (how do they do it?) was made up of some of our favourite doggy people including Marc Abraham, Peter Egan and Michelle Collins.

3 of the lovely judges

3 of the lovely judges

In between judging, Sniffy’s favourite Peter Egan (and proud patron of All Dogs Matter) told us all about his recent trip to Afghanistan – a special mission to one of our favourite charities Nowzad. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post about this very exciting trip!

We were also delighted to meet Coronation Street regular Michelle Collins. Michelle is not only gorgeous, she is also a massive supporter of All Dogs Matter. Her dog Humphrey (pictured living the high life!) was rescued by the charity.

Michelle and Humphrey

Michelle and Humphrey

After Marc Abraham finished getting some pooch kisses, we got some time to chat to him. Marc is a lovely guy and a big fan of rescue dogs – he is a supporter of All Dogs Matter amongst others. He is also the founder of Pupaid – an annual celebrity judged dog show in Primrose Hill highlighting the horrors of puppy farming in the UK. A petition has been launched to stop this awful practice which you can sign here. Pupaid is set to be huge event in September and one we are very proud to support and be attending.

Pooch smooch

Pooch smooch

Although the day was incredibly fun and well organised, we must remember that we were all there to raise funds for All Dogs Matter to continue their vital work. Work such as saving puppies like this tiny little one below – found dumped in a graveyard and covered in a skin disease. He is now on the road to recovery and looking for a new home; somewhere he can enjoy the start in life he deserves.

A saved puppy pictured with All Dogs Matter founders

A saved puppy pictured with All Dogs Matter founders

Thanks to everyone at All Dogs Matter and The Spaniards for a fantastic day – see you all next year!

Thanks also to Dogstar Photos for the brilliant images above – visit their website to see morewww.dogstarphoto.co.uk

Hyde Bark

We couldn’t have wished for a better day when we set up our stall at The Mayhew Animal Home‘s annual ‘Hyde Bark’. Now in its second year it proved to be bigger and better with a host of celebrity doggies and humans (and us!). The sun sort of shone and the rain stayed away – on a Sunday in June (in the UK) what more can you ask for!

Along with the celebrity judged dog show, there were a whole host of stalls ranging from doggie onesies (Nacho is modelling one below) to the pet spa at Harrods.Image

We unveiled our new look signs and spent time chatting to all the lovely people who stopped by to say hello including one of our favourite celebrity customers, Peter Egan. Peter is a wonderful man and a big animal welfare advocate. Not only is he a supporter of The Mayhew, he is also an ambassador for Animals Asia and did in fact bring the fantastic charity to our attention. He dropped by to pick up some treats for his 5 dogs. Image

We also made some new friends with none other than Downtown’s Mrs Patmore – the lovely Lesley Nicol. Image

With all the excitement of Hyde Bark we were exhausted at the end of the day, but it was well worth it with the day making thousands of pounds for The Mayhew and letting us meet more of our fantastic customers.

We would like to thank the Mayhew for such a wonderfully organised day and look forward to being a part of next years event.