THE BREEDER of a Pug puppy given away as a prize on new ITV show Lemonaid has faced a barrage of criticism since.
Facebook went wild after the show and animal charities and the Kennel Club have spoken out against the fact that the seven-week-old dog was homed this way.
The puppy was bred by Amanda Grinnell who registered the seven-strong litter with the KC. The puppies featured subsequently on the club’s website where they were spotted by Lemonaid producers, Mrs Grinnell said.
The show – starring comedian Keith Lemon – aired on Saturday evening. It was filmed a week in advance when the puppy was six weeks old, but the winners – an 11-year-old girl and her family - took possession a week later.
It featured three children who wanted a puppy who competed for it in a game called, ‘A right dog’s dinner’. The children and their parents dressed up in dog suits and completed an agility course with bones in their mouth – assisted by Peter Andre who was dressed as a large bone. The one with the most bones won the puppy.
Another puppy from the litter – which fetched £1,200 for bitches and £1,100 for dogs – was bought by Mr Andre.
Afterwards the KC said its code of ethics prohibited puppies being given away as prizes. Spokesman Caroline Kisko said the club would be writing to the show’s producers and to Ofcom to outline its concerns.
"Our code of ethics prohibits breeders from giving puppies as prizes, stating that breeders, ‘Will not sell any dog to commercial dog wholesalers, retail pet dealers or directly or indirectly allow dogs to be given as a prize or donation in a competition of any kind’,” she said.
"Selling puppies as prizes is also illegal in Scotland. The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2000 states that a person commits an offence if ‘the person offers or gives an animal to another person as a prize.’ The KC advised TV researchers last week that a puppy should never be given away as a prize.
"We are extremely disappointed that a puppy was given away in this way; it sends out completely the wrong message about puppy ownership to both breeders and puppy buyers.
"The golden rule for buying a puppy, which the KC highlights during its Puppy Awareness Week in September and throughout the year, is that people should always see the puppy with its mother and in its home environment, before they buy.
"Puppies are not commodities but are a lifelong commitment, and the KC campaigns to ensure that people buy puppies responsibly and that breeders advertise and sell responsibly. Anyone involved in breeding should understand that proper, informed research by a potential puppy owner is essential before taking on the responsibility of dog ownership, and that a breeder should be directly involved in some form of vetting to ensure the suitability of the puppy buyer.”
A spokesman for Dogs Trust said the charity was ‘shocked and disappointed’ to see a puppy being given as a prize.
"It is highly inappropriate to promote the frivolous gifting of dogs in this fashion, and we are concerned that viewers may follow suit without giving any thought to the lifelong commitment that dogs command,” she said.
"It was irresponsible to allow such a flippant competition to air on a prime-time entertainment TV slot. Sadly, animal welfare charities like ours often deal with the fall-out when dogs are bought on a whim and discarded when the novelty wears off.
"This poor attempt at entertainment was ill-judged, and we urge ITV to issue a full and considered response on this matter.”
The RSPCA said it had received a number of complaints from members of the public after the programme aired on Saturday, and that there had also been concern over the use of a crocodile on the show.
"We can confirm that we are looking into the issues raised and are writing to the production company to voice our concerns,” a spokesman said.
"We would encourage anyone who has concerns over the use of animals in TV shows to write to Ofcom.”
But Mrs Grinnell said she had taken every step possible to ensure that the new owners were responsible, suitable and kind. She said this was her first – and last – litter.
"My dog had puppies and I have lived, slept and breathed them throughout the entire process,” she said. "I live at the vets getting my dogs looked after properly and doing everything correctly. My vet said he’d never seen a litter so well cared for.
"The family who won the puppy has been home-checked, and vets have visited the property. They have wanted a puppy for a long time – it wasn’t just a random prize. I met the family and they knew well in advance that they were getting him.
"He appeared for the filming of the show at six weeks of age but I said that was too young to go to a new home, so he went to them a week later. During filming he was with the family and away from me for a maximum of five minutes and he then came back to me again. I was with him the entire time, before and after. I then took him home and they received him a week later after having time to prepare for the puppy.
"We have been in touch since and I have received pictures of him. My vet was happy for him to go at seven weeks and books tell me that is a good time too.
"My dogs and those puppies are my life, my babies. When the show first contacted me I said no at first. I’m not a breeder and I don’t show, I have a bitch and a dog and that will be my first and only litter.”
Mrs Grinnell said she had now had the bitch spayed and her dog neutered.
"I was gobsmacked at the reaction…,” she said. "But I can sleep at night because I know how much love, care and attention I give my dogs and puppies. The child who won it is eleven but the father has taken responsibility for the Pug…
"(The puppy) was simply a present to a very loving family, and after meeting them a few times now would have let them have one of my puppies anyway. If only ITV would have said something at the start or end of the show explaining the checks that had gone into the family, the thought that had gone into getting a puppy and the preparation needed for a puppy, the general public and children watching the show would be more informed. After all a puppy is for life; they don’t stay puppies for long, and turn into dogs who need a lot of care in return they give you love and loyalty.”
A spokesman for the show said: "An independent, qualified vet visited each home in advance of the show to conduct a thorough check before the rehoming process, to ensure that each family understood the commitment and responsibility involved.”
Val Jones, 03/05/2012
I am not sure how the breeder can say "I met the family and they knew well in advance that they were getting him". The competition was advertised on a casting site on 16/4 and so far as I know recorded on 20/4 so they hardly knew 'well in advance' if it is true that they were vetted once they had been selected! I doubt all that could have been done in 4 days and still give them lots of advance notice!
Slightly pedantic perhaps but it should be pointed out that Lemonaid is not presented by comedian Keith Lemon. It is presented by comedian Leigh Francis playing the character of Keith Lemon