Celebrities are being urged to stop fuelling a surge in ‘lockdown pets’ at animal shelters by posing with cute designer puppies.Katie Price is the latest influencer to attract criticism after sharing a picture on Instagram showing her cuddling up to a pet named Precious gifted to her by boyfriend Carl Woods to mark their six-month anniversary.
The reality TV star is among influencers who have posed with ‘designer’ – or pedigree – puppies on social media.
Animal rights groups say that the images encourage fans to view animals as fashion accessories, which leads to demand from breeders at a time when shelters are ‘overflowing’ with unwanted dogs acquired during the first lockdown but later abandoned.Katie’s representative dismissed the accusations as ‘nonsense’ and said her detractors should ‘shut down’ their unwarranted criticisms. Molly-Mae Hague is among the other influencers who have posed alongside puppies on Instagram. The Love Island star was pictured with a Pomeranian pup named Mr Chai in May after it was given to her as a 21st birthday present by her partner, Tommy Fury.
The pup, which was imported from Russia, suffered a seizure at the vets and died after only a few days with the couple. They later expressed sadness, with Molly-Mae saying it ‘made me reflect on how on Earth people go through things like losing a parent’.Katie, 42, was previously accused of animal cruelty in July when a puppy she bought for daughter Princess’s 13th birthday died after becoming stuck under a chair in a living room at her home. Rolo, a French bulldog, suffocated in a ‘freak’ accident, becoming the family’s third dog to die in tragic circumstances.
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Five months earlier Katie’s pet Alsatian, Sparkle, escaped from home before being hit by a car. Queenie, another dog, died in 2018 after being hit by a delivery driver. Hollywood stars Channing Tatum and Jennifer Lopez have also shared pictures of puppies on Instagram.People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is currently calling on celebrities to stop buying dogs to slow demand and prevent unloved pets from being euthanised. Director Elisa Allen told Metro.co.uk: ‘Social media sparks lots of worrying trends – from dyeing dogs’ fur to dressing them in daft clothes that restrict their movement.
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‘Celebrities have unthinkingly or selfishly driven up demand for the fad of the moment, pedigree “designer” dogs, causing impressionable fans to snap up lookalikes.
‘This means helping dog breeders turn a profit while hundreds of thousands of animals in the UK – and millions more around the world – are staring at the cage bars in shelters, waiting for a home that doesn’t materialise.
‘Many of them will be euthanised because there simply won’t be enough good homes for them all as long as the “pet” trade persists.
‘Anyone unable to provide animals with appropriate care – such as Katie Price – should fill their homes with stuffed toys instead.’PETA says Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ rocketed by 166% at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and animal shelters have reported a rise in ‘lockdown puppies’ bought during the first lockdown before being given up when the novelty wore off. Separately, The Dogs Trust has warned that tens of thousands of dogs could be left without homes as a result of the pandemic, with rising numbers in shelters due to families experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic.
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Concerns have also been raised that ‘designer’ puppies are intensively reared for their looks on farms in countries with lower animal welfare standards before being shipped to the UK.
PETA is currently running an ‘adopt, don’t shop!’ campaign, which features an appeal from a loveable dog called Max who has yet to find an owner.Elisa added: ‘When celebrities purchase dogs from breeders, they drive up the demand to bring more puppies into a world that’s already overflowing with homeless animals.
‘PETA is asking celebrities and social media influencers to inform themselves about the homeless animal crisis and stop contributing to it, to recognise that their choices have an impact that reaches far beyond Instagram, and to show compassion for the tens of thousands of homeless animals in the UK and elsewhere.’A spokesperson for Katie Price responded: ‘What nonsense – if Katie came up with a 100% proof vaccine for Covid there still be haters.
‘PETA I do hope will take the responsible steps and shut this down.’
The I’m a Celebrity contestant has said that she and her daughter were ‘devastated’ by Rolo’s death, which was a ‘freak’ accident.
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Molly-Mae has previously said: ‘People that are saying we bought him for Instagram likes, please stop saying that.
‘We’re not asking for any kind of sympathy.
‘What’s happened is awful. I’m asking you to understand that the dog travelling from Russia is not the reason he died.’The news comes after the RSPCA said it has ‘concerns’ over an upcoming BBC Three documentary about the breeding of designer dogs during the pandemic.
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