Interview With TV Vet Marc Abraham
For our first Blog we were delighted to be able to speak to Marc Abraham. Marc is known as ‘Marc the Vet’ and you have probably seen him on TV giving pet advice. However, you might not know that Marc is also a tireless campaigner for animal welfare and is the founder of Pup Aid which aims to ban the sale of puppies unless the mother is present.
1. You are a well known campaigner for animal welfare and have recently founded Pup Aid Can you tell us more about Pup Aid?
Pup Aid came about as a result of sick puppies coming into my vet practice with life-threatening conditions such as parvovirus with many sadly dying and costing new owners a lot of money. After researching where these pups born I discovered most came from puppy farms so I decided that something had to be done to raise public awareness and stop this terrible trade.
The first Pup Aid events took place every September in Brighton from 2010 and then we moved it to London's exclusive Primrose Hill enabling us to attract more high profile celebrity supporters and sponsors. I can’t underestimate the importance of the celebrity backing that we have received from Ricky Gervais, Brian May, Peter Egan, Meg Matthews and many others which makes such a difference in this age of Social Media and celebrity endorsement.
I see Pup Aid as vital in giving dogs a voice to be heard so that humans see their suffering and can help to put a stop to cruel puppy farming.
Marc with Ricky Gervais, Jane Fallon, Peter Egan and Jill Robinson.
2. Can you tell us about some of the suffering caused by puppy farming?
It is a terrible vicious circle of suffering which affects the puppy, puppy's mother, father and the new owners. Mother's is kept in appalling conditions, often in dark cramped battery farms with no sufficient ventilation. Commonly the puppies are not provided with any vet care, they're left unvaccinated against serious infectious diseases, as well as being unsocialised as they're are separated far too early from their mothers to sell quickly to capitalise on their ‘cute’ factor. They then often succumb todiseases such as canine parvovirus shortly after arriving in their new homes or require significant medical and behavioural treatment creating more pain and suffering for both the puppy and owner. The mother also has to produce more sick pups and the cycle continues...
3. How bad is the problem in the UK?
No one knows exactly how many puppy farms exist in the UK as there is a mixture of licensed and unlicensed farms most commonly found in disused agricultural blocks in the valleys of South Wales. Bitches are bred on every heat and then destroyed when infertile. Their puppies are sold to pet shops and online vendors via third party dealers so that the owners do not get to see the conditions their puppy was bred in or see it interacting with its mum and litter mates. Ironically, whilst the majority of breeders and dealers are technically in breach of the Animal Welfare Act (unenforced or policed) they are not doing anything illegal if they have a pet shop or breeding licence allowing them to commercially bred on a massive scale and/or buy pups to sell on to the unsuspecting public.
A rescuced breeding bitch from a Welsh Puppy Farm.
4. Why hasn't it been banned?
Our Government claims that there are already sufficient safeguards in existing legislation but then admit that they do not have the resources to enforce or police them! Government website tells owners to always see pup with mum yet they won't enforce their own guidelines. So I truly believe the answer to ending pupy farming is to tackle the points of sale starting with banning the sale of puppies without their mothers present which will make it much harder for puppy farms to sell their litters; this in turn will hopefully starve them of business. That's why a ban on puppies being sold in pet shops is a good starting point and it also helps raise public awareness too.
5. Pup Aid have successfully achieved over 100,000 signatures for its an e-petition to the government to ban the sale of puppies & kittens without their mothers being present. What happens now?
We are now entitled to a debate in the House of Commons on puppy farming. The debate will be held on Thursday 4th September in the main chamber with a growing number of MPs supporting our proposal to ban the sale of young puppies in physical pet shop outlets including garden centres and puppy supermarkets. All dog lovers should now contact their MP asking them to attend this debate and join us on the day itself in the public gallery. We may also be arranging an event at Parliament on the morning of the debate so check out the Pup Aid website for more details! Fingers crossed we can then celebrate positive progress two days later at the Pup Aid event.
6. Pup Aid have launched a new campaign called 'Where's Mum? Can you tell us more about this?
#wheresmum is basically a social media campaign to drive home the message that you should never buy a puppy unless the owner is able to show you the pups interacting and playing with their mum. Again I have been successful in getting celebrity endorsement for the campaign including TOWIE'S Lydia Bright and her mum Debbie, which will run all summer in the run up to Pup Aid.
Where's Mum supporter Lydia Bright and her mother Debbie.
7. If I were buying a new puppy what questions should I ask the seller?
The golden question is to ask to see the puppy’s mother and see how the dogs interact together to be sure that it is actually the real mother as there are many scams around involving 'pretend' mothers. Also ensure that the seller lets you visit the puppy in its home rather than a pre-arranged meeting place (e.g. pub, service station) and ask whether it is possible to return the pup if things don’t work out e.g. child becomes allergic. A respectable breeder will always allow you to return a pup but a puppy farmer/pet shop/dealer will usually not. A Kennel Club Assured Breeder will provide you with peace of mind but I would also think about whether you could give a loving home to a rescue pup from a local re-homing centre.
8. Pup Aid are holding a Fun Dog show in September - can you tell me more?
The next Pup Aid will be held on Saturday 6th September in Primrose Hill Park in London. We look forward to a great day of free fun for families and their dogs including celebrity judged dog shows, have a go agility, trade stalls, food and live music. I'd like to thank my two fellow Pup Aid volunteers, Bex and Stuart, all our generous sponsors especially main sponsor Barking Heads and our great lobbying team at Bellenden Ltd.
9. What else can people do to help and get involved?
Contact your MP right now asking them to attend the debate on the 4th September. We need as much publicity as possible to continue to raise public awareness so please spread the word through social media and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Pup Aid is a non profit organisation relying 100% on donations so if you'd like to contribute towards our running costs you can do this by getting in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Given all that you do for Animal Welfare campaigning how on earth do you fit in the day job?
Pup Aid and Animal Welfare campaigning became so important that I decided to take a break from veterinary practice since the end of last year. I still get to put on my trademark blue scrubs for personal appearances and TV shows though and will be returning to practice as a vet locally after the debate!
11. Who has been your biggest influence?
Definitely my grandmother, who is 93, she survived the Holocaust and has been a tremendous inspiration to me. She lives her life by the mantra that however bad things get anything's possible and I always remember that when I face obstacles and setbacks - that's basically campaigning in a nutshell.
12. Do you own a dog?
Sadly not as I simply don’t have the time to devote to one at present but when the time is right I intend to get a rescue Borzoi as they are big and a bit strange looking - just like me!
A Borzoi dog!
You can get more information on Pup Aid by visiting www.pupaid.org.
Marc’s own website is www.marcthevet.com