25 Apr Campaigning for Compassion: Be More Mosquito
On World Veterinary Day, Dr Marc Abraham BVM&S MRCVS, is my guest blogger. Multi award-winning TV vet, campaigner (Founder PupAid & #LucysLaw campaign against puppy farm cruelty), author ( ‘Lucy’s Law: The story of a little dog who changed the world’ ) and passionate animal welfare enthusiast.
Marc is a great supporter and friend to Compassion in World Farming. Here he shares his thoughts on campaigning and how we all have the power to make a difference.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito”, said the Dalai Lama, and after the last decade, I couldn’t agree more. Growing up I was the least likely human to ever make a difference, but as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to help animals. Any spare time was spent collecting caterpillars, eggshells, and feathers, meticulously drawing and identifying them, before putting them back exactly where I’d found them. I was a nerd, a geek, a square. Human friendships were a struggle, let alone interacting with grown-ups. Unsurprisingly it was always biology, chemistry, and physics over politics, history, or law.
Fast-forward a few decades and after studying to be a vet in Edinburgh, working as a barman in a French ski resort, and volunteering with various animal charities around the world, I became a little more streetwise. Back on British soil working at my Brighton emergency vet clinic, one nightshift changed everything. That fateful night I treated a total of eight puppies dying of parvovirus, a brutal disease, and these days thankfully relatively uncommon thanks to widespread vaccination and responsible breeding. Typically pups suffering parvovirus are born onto breeding establishments prioritising profit over welfare, known as ‘puppy farms’.
After researching who sold these pups, I made an appointment pretending to look for a puppy, and discovered the whole process of selling puppies without their mums was completely legal. I was becoming that mosquito the Dalia Lama referred to. As a TV vet, the only resources I had back then to try and make a difference was reaching out to celebrities, inviting them to judge at my fun dog show ‘Pup Aid’, designed to raise awareness of puppy farming, and the only two ways to get a dog, either direct from breeder or adopting from rescue. It was the start. Over the years, more media coverage meant more education, helping more animals, and making a difference.
But I needed to do more; so began lobbying MPs, starting e-petitions, attending rallies and debates, and over literally hundreds of visits to Westminster, on every day off from vetting, started making progress. My trusted grassroots campaigning team faced much opposition, often from some very unlikely sources, but we battled on presenting evidence to the country’s decision-makers; highlighting that puppy farming mainly depends on third-party dealers, ensuring the state of the mums and breeding conditions remain hidden from public view.
Our campaign asked Government to ban these third-party dealers, making all breeders accountable, giving every puppy buyer complete transparency for the first time. After Government ignored a formal Inquiry recommending our ban, I rebranded the campaign, naming it ‘Lucy’s Law’ after a brave little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel rescued from a legal, licenced Welsh puppy farm. Lucy’s Law quickly gained public support, helped persuade No.10 to launch a public consultation into banning these dealers, eventually resulting in Lucy’s Law passing into legislation via a celebratory Downing Street garden party; meaning from 6 April 2020, it’s now illegal for any breeder in England to sell a puppy (or kitten) without showing mum in the place they were born.
Folks we can all be more mosquito. All the tools are out there to make a difference. From signing and sharing petitions to starting your own campaign. Lucy’s Law shows that literally anyone can raise awareness and/or change the law; it even led me to arranging the adoption of rescue dog Dilyn by the Prime Minister! Nowadays it’s all too easy to blame, moan, and finger-point, so why not choose kindness, empathy, and compassion instead, become a mosquito, and make that difference you think our world needs.
If you’d like to help Compassion in World Farming by being a mosquito, please use this link https://www.ciwf.org.uk/get-involved/ to learn about the many ways in which you can help us make a difference.