From Dog Pound to Thousands of Pounds - The Inequality of Pets

12/12/2012 16:53 GMT | Updated 11/02/2013 10:12 GMT
International Fund for Animal Welfare IFAW

The shocking inequalities of China's dog population have recently been reported in the British media.

While some highly prized breeds can sell for up to a million pounds (last year a Chinese dog became the world's most expensive dog when it sold for $1.5 million) others are herded into trucks to end up served as a popular winter dish for people.

To a sentimental British palate this is tantamount to eating your best friend.

But before we point the finger at happenings thousands of miles away, perhaps we should take a closer look at our own nation.

We are well known as a nation of animal lovers but last year in Britain more than 120,000 dogs were picked up as strays by local authorities and thousands of them were euthanised because no home could be found for them.

Blue Cross rehoming centres took in 40% more stray and abandoned pets in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2010 - including newborn puppies dumped like rubbish and an abandoned dog found zipped up in a suitcase.

Yet astonishingly others - of rare breeds or from valuable breeding stock - can sell for thousands of pounds. Puppies from rare breeds like the Lowchen can fetch £3,000 - £5,000 but other "good" pedigrees can sell for thousands too.

Of course China has little legislation on animal cruelty but there is no cause for complacency here either. Last year the number of convictions for animal cruelty in the UK rose by a quarter.

Perhaps as the recession bites deeper the arrival of Christmas should prompt us to consider what we value most.

Our pets give us unconditional love whatever we get them for Christmas. Isn't it time we realised that true friendship can't be bought but it's not a one sided bargain - it has its obligations as well?

Find out more about the Blue Cross Big Neutering Campaign, which aims to make neutering the norm and stop unwanted litters of puppies needlessly suffering.