TV & Movies

Paul O'Grady slams BBC show about designer dogs and claims it will 'encourage puppy farming'

PRESENTER Paul O’Grady’s has called out new dog-focused documentary Will My Puppies Make Me Rich? for ‘encouraging puppy farming’.

The 65-year-old BBC Radio 2 DJ spoke out about his employer's upcoming show – as his passion for pups is evident on his animal-friendly ITV hit, For The Love of Dogs.

BBC Three's controversial new doc follows several ‘social media savvy 20-somethings’ as they enter the lucrative puppy breeding business.

Paul, who is known to adore dogs, told The Mirror: “This kind of c**p only encourages puppy farming and I only hope that the BBC come to their senses and take it off air immediately.

“It’s a bit of a worry when the bright sparks at BBC Three believe this is suitable viewing. 

“You don’t keep a dog to make money off it. I’ve seen what excessive breeding does and it’s pitiful. Shame on you.”

Animal welfare groups have also slammed the series as ‘irresponsible’, while the RSPCA shared that sentiment in a statement to The Mirror.

It read: “We're aware of this programme and are concerned that it is extremely irresponsible to encourage and glamorise breeding as a 'get rich quick' scheme which, in turn, could lead to serious dog welfare issues and fuel the illegal puppy trade.

“Along with a number of other animal welfare and veterinary organisations who shared our concerns, we've written a joint letter to the programme creators and BBC Three urging them to rethink.”

Media vet Marc Abraham – who was the champion of Lucy’s Law, outlawing the sale of kittens and puppies by anyone other than a reputable breeder – has also been vocal in his critique of the show.

He wrote in a statement that he was “deeply concerned” about the programme’s “ill-conceived” and “exploitative” subject matter.

“Any show following individuals breeding dogs with little or no knowledge and experience – with their sole intention of making a profit – implies this is an appropriate, even aspirational money-making venture to consider,” he explained.

“[This is] a hugely irresponsible message to send to viewers by a publicly funded, or indeed any organisation.

“It’s extremely disappointing, especially when the Pandemic has seen a spike in irresponsible dog breeding practices both here and abroad, that BBC Three is commissioning a documentary that effectively promotes and follows a dog breeding business experiment…

“Posing a risk not only to the welfare of the dogs, puppies and people directly involved, but potentially manufacturing cruelty, which can only have a detrimental effect on the lives of thousands of other dogs and humans.”

A BBC statement has since refuted claims that the show intends to glamourise dog breeding – also revealing that its working title has now changed.

The statement read: “A lot has been said and written online about this future programme. If the BBC were making a programme about how to exploit animals for profit, then that would be a cause for concern. 

“The reality is rather different. The BBC is not making such a programme and never intended to.

“The title of the programme is a working title. It is not uncommon for programmes to have working titles while they are developed.

“As the working title has allowed there to be some ambiguity around what the content might be, we have now chosen the new working title – Britain’s Puppy Boom: Counting the Cost. 

“We think that title makes clearer the BBC’s and the programmes intentions.

"To clarify further, It will be a film underpinned by sound journalism, providing a balanced exploration of why more young people have become interested in turning their passion for dogs into a profession, done responsibly, as well as understanding the wider negative impacts of the rise in demand for dogs.

"It will not be a ‘how to’ guide. It is not about encouraging people to get into breeding. Nor is it an attempt to glamorise breeding.

“The welfare of animals is of the utmost importance and this programme will follow young individuals that are already responsibly breeding or are training to become accredited in order to highlight what constitutes best practice. 

“The idea was commissioned during a live pitch event for new talent which is different to how we usually commission, but it will now be developed and made in accordance with the usual processes in line with BBC Editorial Guidelines and the production team will research and consult widely within the industry.

“The BBC condemns the personal attacks that have been directed towards the young women who pitched the idea of the documentary. 

“They are not dog breeders but felt the subject was an interesting one to tackle due to the rise in demand for dogs over the past few months. The BBC is responsible for commissioning the film and its editorial direction.

“We hope this statement makes clear the position.”

Prior to the BBC's statement, over 100,000 people signed a petition demanding that Will My Puppies Make Me Rich? would be cancelled.

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