New Campaign Launches Today To Target Cruel UK Puppy Trade

P – Parent – Is the puppy with its mum?
U – Underage – Has the puppy reached the legal age for sale?
P – Papers – Are all of the puppy’s papers available and in order?
S – Sickness – Is the puppy healthy and energetic?

A new public awareness campaign launches today by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to target the growing problem of the illicit and cruel UK puppy trade.

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The P.U.P.S campaign targets the cruel puppy trade

The puppy industry is booming, but with many UK breeders and puppy smugglers across Europe producing puppies solely for profit, all too often these animals suffer serious illness or behavioural problems later in life. Others, sadly, do not survive.

Many people are unaware that the puppy they are buying may have been farmed in squalid conditions and taken from its mother too soon (before eight weeks of age) before being transported a great distance by dodgy dealers with little or no thought for its health or welfare. The mothers suffer greatly too, being made to produce litter after litter of puppies until they have outlived their usefulness.

IFAW has devised a useful guide, P.U.P.S, for anyone looking to buy a puppy, to ensure they know what to look for to avoid buying an unhealthy, possibly puppy farmed animal.

The P.U.P.S mnemonic, below, is accompanied by a kitsch, online mock advert for a children’s toy, the Suzy puppy. The short film depicts a young girl’s delight at her new toy puppy, but mirroring the grim reality of the puppy industry she quickly discovers that her seemingly perfect pup is in fact suffering a great deal.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “As a nation of dog lovers, none of us wants to be part of the cruel puppy industry. I am sure people will be shocked to find out that many much-loved pet dogs in the UK have suffered a horrible start in life with ill effects that may last through their lifetime.

“In the worst scenarios, owners suffer too when their much-loved puppy quickly gets sick and dies. This is the reality of the heartless UK puppy trade. IFAW always advocates adopting a happy and healthy puppy or dog in need of a home from your local shelter. But for those who wish to buy from a breeder, we believe our P.U.P.S campaign arms people with the information they need to make the right choice.”

P – Parent – Is the puppy with its mum?
U – Underage – Has the puppy reached the legal age for sale?
P – Papers – Are all of the puppy’s papers available and in order?
S – Sickness – Is the puppy healthy and energetic?

IFAW’s P.U.P.S film can be viewed here:

Although the film contains no puppy footage, some viewers may find the content shocking or upsetting, because sadly the puppy trade is just that.

The film will be screened at a parliamentary reception for MPs and key decision makers tomorrow where IFAW will continue to call for legislative change to better protect puppies.

Mansbridge added: “IFAW stands firmly against the large-scale, low welfare commercial breeding of puppies for profit. We want to see an end to third-party sales and the introduction of tougher and better enforced licensing to tackle this cruel trade. We also urge members of the public to remember P.U.P.S and spread the message to others.”

Denise’s story…

This is the account of Denise who bought a puppy from someone who did not care about the welfare of the puppy, provided false documentation and sold a puppy that was sick and dying. She has kindly shared her very personal experience with us.

Denise explained: “Yes it is very difficult to put into words, but I will if it helps stop the vile people who cause such misery or prevents another family going through what we went through.

“We asked about the mother in our initial call and she said it was her brother’s family pet, he had gone on holiday and taken her with them. This lady had the pups (only 2 were left) as they were too young to travel and ready to go to new homes.

“She had pictures of both parents in the pedigree document. With the breeder pack that came with the puppy, you could register for a free bag of food with Royal Canin. I did this the day I brought him. When he was sick the vet asked me to ring the breeder for details of when the mother had her parvo injections. But the mobile number no longer worked.

“I contacted Royal Canin for details of the breeder attached to the registration, they couldn’t give it to me directly, but they contacted the breeder on my behalf when they knew the pup was sick. The breeder agreed that Royal Canin could give me her details. I rang her and she was devastated at what had happened and it was clear she was not involved and they were using her details fraudulently. After speaking to the genuine breeder I contacted the Police and the RSPCA.”

Denise added: “After we lost the pup I could not face having another one, but after about eight months I contacted the breeder who had been so kind to me and she had a litter of pups and offered us one at a reduced cost. We made sure he had all his vaccines before we had him, he is my joy. After a year or so we brought another pup from her, both are very fit and well.

“I don’t know how to protect others from making the mistake we made, as they had genuine sounding reasons for the mother not being there and they had all the relevant breeder information, they even included a bag of puppy food. The puppy was not cheap and I got a receipt, but none of this helped when he lay in the vets on a drip for 24 hours before he died. As this happened so quickly we had no pet insurance and when he died we were totally devastated and then had to pay some very expensive vet bills.”

Denise’s experience clearly shows the extent to which some people will go to sell puppies in the UK and the pain and heartache this can cause. IFAW would recommend that that you follow PUPS guidelines when looking at a puppy.

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COMPETITION: WIN A Custom Designed Greeting Card Of Your Pet – Worth £250!

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One lucky Pets Magazine reader is in with the chance of winning a unique greeting card of their pet by one of thortful’s independent established designers.

Thortful is an ethical greeting card company set up to support independent artists and designers around the world to provide the best way to buy and personalise the perfect greeting card via their website or their free to download app. Typically, to take independent commissions, the designers that work with thortful charge upwards of £250, but thortful are giving this amazing opportunity away to one of our readers absolutely free.

As well as having your pet immortalized by an established designer and the card bearing their image with be available to purchase worldwide, thortful will also send the winner 10 of the designed cards to use or keep as they wish.

TO ENTER:

TO ENTER THIS COMPETITION, PLEASE VISIT THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE TO ANSWER A SIMPLE QUESTION: www.competitionshub.co.uk/competition/win-a-custom-designed-greeting-card-of-your-pet-worth-250-20

The closing date for entries is Monday September 26 at 12 midnight.

PLEASE NOTE: ENTRIES POSTED ON PETS MAGAZINE’S BLOG WILL NOT BE COUNTED.

Ts&Cs apply.

GOOD LUCK!

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Murphy’s Army Launches Campaign To Remember Fallen Animals

In a week when many are remembering the sacrifice of the 9/11 dogs, Murphy’s Army is inviting animal lovers to join with them in their Purple Poppy Campaign to remember all the fallen animals, and to ensure that their loyalty and courage is never forgotten.

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‘They had no choice’ are the words inscribed on the poignant Animals in War Memorial in Hyde Park which honours the many millions of animals, of all types and breeds, who died whilst serving alongside British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces over the years, and those who continue to give their lives today.

Over the past six weeks hundreds of poppies have been knitted or crocheted by an army of volunteers, all of whom have donated materials and their time to help. The poppies will go on sale at the beginning of October via the Murphy’s Army website and other online outlets, to raise funds for animals in need today.

As well as the traditional version for humans, a special poppy has been designed for animals to wear on their leads or collars.

Andy Smith, Founder of Murphy’s Army, said: “As an animal charity we strongly believe that animals lost in the course of duty should be remembered alongside their human counterparts. We’re not in any way advocating their involvement; we simply want to acknowledge the huge sacrifices that they too have made and ensure they are not forgotten.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response to our campaign so far, and would like to thank everyone who’s lent their support. It’s been a humbling experience.”

Proceeds from the sale of the poppies will be split between Murphy’s Army and Bravo Working Dogs Rescue who are the only non-profit welfare organisation in the UK dedicated to the rescue of unwanted working dogs.

Debbie Connolly, Founder of Bravo Working Dogs Rescue, said: “I created Bravo to help the many retiring dogs from Police and Military who are otherwise sold or destroyed.

“These dogs are the reason your world is safer; they find bombs, drugs and guns, they catch criminals and lost children, they should spend their retirement in front of a fire, but many don’t.

“We thank Murphy’s Army for both their long campaign to help lost and stray dogs and for the honour of being included in this Purple Poppy fundraising event.”

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More information about the Campaign and details of how to order poppies can be found on the website murphysarmy.org.

Murphy’s Army is named in honour of Murphy, a Siberian husky, who went missing, believed stolen, in December 2014. His devastated family launched a social media campaign to help find him and the animal loving community took Murphy and his family to heart. In a very short space of time his plight was known not only across the UK, but worldwide.

Murphy was reunited some three months later, but the campaign did not stop there. The team, drawn together by Murphy’s absence, pledged to continue their efforts and so Murphy’s Army was born. In June 2016 they were granted charity status and are now a charity registered in England and Wales, Registered Charity Number 1167823. Their mission is to help reunite lost and stolen pets with their owners, raise pet theft awareness and promote pet safety, welfare and care across the UK.

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Tragedy Of Sickly Dogs As Online Puppy Trade Soars

fcccurrentsitpuppymills-11Half of puppies bought online without being seen by their new owners first are falling sick, as almost half of people (45 per cent) suspect their pup could have come from a puppy farm.

People opting to buy puppies online or from newspaper adverts, not realising that many could have been bred on puppy farms, is leading to one in five having to spend between £500 and £1,000 in vets’ bills in the first six months of their puppy’s life. This is resulting in financial and emotional problems as over a third (37 per cent) say they have been affected financially and 35 per cent affected emotionally by the strain of owning a sickly pup.

Kennel Club research for Puppy Awareness Week, which starts today (September 12), shows that puppy buying habits could be contributing towards a welfare crisis, with over a third of puppies (37 per cent) being sold online or from newspaper adverts being bought by people who decided to get a puppy on the spur of the moment – with almost two thirds (60 per cent) choosing their dog solely because of the way it looks.

Many of these puppies will go on to develop diseases and conditions common in puppy farmed pups, with around one in five pups (17 per cent) ending up with serious gastro-intestinal problems.

Many people are not prepared for the associated financial cost of a sickly puppy, with around a third of people (32 per cent) who buy online or from a newspaper advert without seeing the pup first, having to spend more on vets’ fees than they had accounted for. Almost one in five (18 per cent) spending between £500 and £1,000 on vets’ bills in the first six months of their puppy’s life means that many people are having to spend more on their pet’s health than they paid for the puppy originally.

As a result, over a third of people (37 per cent) who ended up with a sick pup after buying online or from newspaper ads experienced financial problems due to cost and 35 per cent suffered from emotional problems due to the strain of having a sickly puppy.

The Kennel Club is increasingly concerned about irresponsible breeders who put profit over health and welfare and is keen to highlight the importance of going to a responsible breeder.

Insurance data released by Agria Pet Insurance ahead of Puppy Awareness Week has revealed that the only scheme in the UK dedicated to monitoring dog breeders, the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, is improving the health of dogs and saving owners money. The data highlights that dogs bred by Assured Breeders are costing owners on average 18 per cent less in unplanned veterinary fees and are 23 per cent less likely to need to visit the vet.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “It’s absolutely shocking that people are still buying puppies online or from newspaper adverts without seeing the puppy first.

“Not only do puppies end up suffering as a result of being irresponsibly bred and sold, but consumers are being utterly duped into thinking they will end up with a healthy puppy, when the reality is that buying a pup from a disreputable source is likely to cost them dearly, both emotionally and financially. This is especially true when a puppy buyer does not even see the puppy before purchase, which is why the Kennel Club is highlighting the importance of seeing the puppy with its mother in its breeding environment before committing to buy.

“It’s absurd that people are likely to take less care buying a puppy than they do when buying a kitchen appliance, and they may well be unknowingly supporting the cruel puppy farming trade as a result. It is crucial for anyone thinking about getting a dog to go to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, or to a rescue organisation, and to know what to look for when they do so to stop puppy farmers from selling sickly pups and causing puppy buyers untold emotional and financial distress.”

For more information about buying a puppy responsibly and for the Kennel Club’s do’s and don’ts of buying a puppy, visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk/PAW.

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Ex-Puppy Farm Lucy The Rescue Cavalier Is True Animal Hero

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Lucy the Rescue Cavalier was kept in a cage in the dark and used as a breeding machine at a cruel puppy farm for eight years before she was rescued…

Brave and beautiful Lucy has this week been crowned Rescue Animal of the Year for raising awareness of the unregulated, underground trade in dogs.

Lucy was invited to a star-studded ceremony in London on Wednesday, hosted by the Daily Mirror and the RSPCA, where she was named winner of the Animal Hero Award.

Lisa Garner rescued eight-year-old Lucy through Many Tears from a puppy farm in Wales in March 2013. She’d spent her whole life as a breeding machine and had never been out of her cramped cage.

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Speaking at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, Lisa said: “I am so shocked to have won, there were some fantastic nominees tonight and I’ve had some overwhelming stories.

“I think people really engage with Lucy particularly through social media, they think of her as their own dog.

“Lucy knows she has a purpose in life, she is so well behaved and calm when I take her out to meet people.

“Our message is to encourage people to do their research before getting a dog. Don’t just look online – and don’t underestimate the level of deceit from puppy breeders.

“The best thing you can do is a rescue a dog – there are breed specific rescues out there and if you are willing wait a bit longer you can find the dog that’s right for you. We do more research into buying cars then we do into getting pets and that’s not right.”

Lucy was seriously underweight when she was rescued, was missing chunks of fur and her back feet touched her front feet from being hunched over in a tiny space.

“She was skin and bone,” said Lisa. “She was absolutely tiny, weighing only eight pounds. Lucy didn’t even resemble the breed. When I first held her, it broke my heart.”

Lucy still suffers from health problems such as epilepsy and is blind in one eye, but that hasn’t stopped her from going on to front a national campaign against puppy farming.

“I think people have fallen in love with her cheeky character and zest for life which she has, even after all she has endured,” Lisa added.

Lucy was nominated for her work raising awareness of the underground puppy trade in England and Wales, an issue which has also sparked a national campaign from the RSPCA.

The RSPCA launched its Scrap the Puppy Trade in October last year, calling on the Government to introduce legislation to tackle the trade and encouraging the public to source and buy puppies responsibly.

The RSPCA is asking members of the public to support the campaign and sign a petition at www.rspca.org.uk/scrapthepuppytrade to tell the UK Government responsible for animal welfare in England that puppies are more precious than pieces of metal.

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Study Reveals 98% Of Vets Asked To Euthanise Healthy Pets

dog at vets

Almost all companion animal vets have been asked to euthanise healthy pets, with half (53%) saying this was not a rare occurrence and 98% of those who had been asked to euthanise a healthy pet citing the owner’s reason as their pet’s behaviour, reveal figures released today by the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

Problem behaviours vets can see include persistent barking and howling, destructive chewing and inappropriate toileting. Aggressive behaviour, towards both people and other pets, is also a problem, with the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) report revealing that a third of pet owners have been attacked or bitten by a dog. Such behaviours can cause a breakdown of the human-animal bond, leading to pets being excluded from family life to the detriment of their welfare, relinquished to rehoming centres or euthanised.

The figures, obtained during BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, which polled over 700 vets across the UK, also highlight the burden that is placed on vets every day when they are faced with euthanising healthy animals.

BVA says that these figures overwhelmingly show the importance of adequate socialisation of animals at an early age – young animals should safely encounter a variety of people, animals and everyday household sights and sounds in their first few weeks and months of age, beginning at the place where they are born. Many veterinary practices now offer puppy socialisation classes to help with this.

British Veterinary Association President Sean Wensley said:

“These figures are stark and are likely to come as a shock to members of the public. But this is the sad reality of a failure to socialise animals from the earliest possible age – a specific time in a puppy’s development which has a significant impact on their future temperament and behaviour. With dogs, this process starts from before a puppy is even seen by a potential owner.

“In recent months there has been a litany of news stories about the illegal importation, breeding and trading of puppies through puppy farms. This is no way for a family pet to start life and we urge potential owners to thoroughly research where a puppy has been born and reared, using the AWF/RSPCA Puppy contract to help. Then, in the first year of ownership, and especially in the first few weeks, work with your local veterinary practice to ensure your puppy is introduced to everyday sights and sounds, including other people and animals, in a safe and structured way.”

Mr Wensley also commented on the impact on vets:

“Nobody enters the veterinary profession wanting to euthanise healthy pets, but this is the stressful situation that many vets are facing because of undesirable behaviours in pet animals. Vets will do all they can in these situations to avoid euthanasia, including offering evidence-based behavioural advice, referring to accredited pet behaviourists or assisting with rehoming through reputable rehoming organisations, but sometimes these options are not appropriate, particularly where the behavioural issues make it extremely difficult to rehome the animal.

“Vets are not required to euthanise healthy animals at an owner’s request, but sometimes, having carefully considered all options and given the circumstances the pet finds themselves in, it may be in an animal’s best interests to do so. Euthanising an animal who could have been a loving pet is the hidden, tragic cost of poor socialisation.”

Owners often offered a number of reasons when requesting euthanasia for their healthy pet, with surveyed vets saying that some of the most common reasons they were given included poor health of the owner (48%), owners moving to accommodation that is unsuitable for their pet (39%), and legal enforcement reasons (32%).

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Call For Vet Profession To Support Compulsory Health Testing For Pedigree Dogs

Teddy

The Dog Breeding Reform Group (DBRG) is calling on more vets to support compulsory health testing for pedigree dog breeds including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels as it slams the failure of voluntary testing by breeders.

The group welcomed the recent article in the Veterinary Times highlighting the hereditary health crisis affecting Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and other breeds, and the need for more stringent health testing.

Campaigners have worked hard over many years to draw attention to the issues affecting Cavaliers. Although much research has been carried out, the incidence of Mitral Valve Disease (MVD), Chiari-like Malformation and Syringomyelia (CM/SM), plus other conditions including pancreatitis, remains unacceptably high. All of these cause major welfare concerns.

DBRG founder Carol Fowler explained: “As the majority of Cavalier breeders boycott the official CM/SM health scheme and a heart scheme promised in 2008 has yet to materialise, there is little hope of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for Cavaliers getting off the ground.

“Many people believe that the Cavalier breed is now so genetically compromised that outcrossing to a related breed may be the only way of tackling these problems.

“The Kennel Club is a prestigious and wealthy organisation with the power to do what is right for the welfare of dogs. If it sets an example, breeders, including non-KC breeders, will follow.

“The Kennel Club does not lack the know-how or influence to introduce an official heart scheme. We understand discussions are underway with cardiologists but there have been several stops and starts in recent years.”

The DBRG believes that Estimated Breeding Values are an important tool and could have a very positive impact on canine health. However, it believes a great deal more effort and action is required to make this a reality.

“At the moment there are EBVs for hip dysplasia for some 20-plus breeds and elbow dysplasia for a very small number of breeds,” Carol explains.

“EBVs are an impressive-sounding initiative but we are years, even decades, away from their reality for other complex conditions. They rely on phenotypic data from health screening. If official screening data does not exist, or where there are schemes and breeders fail to use them, EBVS are not possible. We know that co-operation from breeders cannot always be relied upon.”

DBRG was pleased to read vet Emma Milne’s strong stance in the Veterinary Times and agrees with her that voluntary testing is not working. We understand the Kennel Club’s tradition of leaving the choice to breed clubs and individual breeders. However, the welfare implications are so great in some breeds, such as Cavaliers, that a much stronger approach is needed.

Carol added: “The official CM/SM scheme presented many challenges. It might never have got off the ground had it not been for the determination and passion of key individuals motivated to truly make a difference to canine health and to improve our understanding of this distressing and complex condition.”

Like Emma Milne, the DBRG would welcome pressure from the BVA and other professional veterinary bodies regarding health testing, including finalising and implementing an official heart scheme. DBRG would support the rapid introduction of breed-specific schemes rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This would include a compulsory scheme for Cavaliers along the lines of the highly successful Danish version that has seen MVD fall in the breed by over 73 per cent.

An abbreviated version of the Veterinary Times article can be seen online
www.vettimes.co.uk/news/issue-kennel-club-breed-testing-ultimatum-urges-vet

DBRG is an organisation dedicated to improving the health and welfare of dogs through responsible breeding. It was founded in 2013 and became a Charitable Trust in 2015. Members of the DBRG include veterinary specialists, dog welfare and law experts, breeders and dog owners.

For more information about the DBRG please visit www.dogbreedingreformgroup.uk.

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First Ever Record Deal For Music For Animals Announced

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Universal Music announced today a remarkable record deal to sign ‘Music for Cats’, the first ever major label deal for music aimed at animals rather than humans.

This very special album composed by cellist with America’s National Symphony Orchestra David Teie, has been scientifically proven to enrich the lives of cats and provide a calming influence for our feline friends. Comprising of five cat-friendly compositions, this unique collection of sounds and classical music is released 28 October 2016.

Britain is a nation of animal lovers who spend four billion pounds a year on their cats and there are approximately 9.2 million cats in the UK alone – an enormous untapped music market. In a music industry in constant flux, this deal is a forward thinking move tapping into new markets, distribution avenues and is sure to climb its way up the charts.

‘Music for Cats’ caught Universal’s eye after a whirlwind Kickstarter campaign, which garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding and independently sold over 10,000 copies of the album. Universal Music seized the opportunity and will be bringing ‘Music For Cats’ to the world with this international signing.

A spokesperson for Universal Music said: “We’re thrilled to be part of this world-first project and break into the massive untapped market of non-human music fans. The possibilities are endless for more species specific ‘Music For’ albums: dogs and horses could all be on the cards. David Teie’s creative ideas, passion and solid research has laid the perfect foundation for success and in his words ‘A hundred years from now people will have to be taught that music was once only for humans.’ “

Based at the University Of Maryland, David Teie is a published music researcher and decorated cellist, having given multiple solos with the National Symphony Orchestra and has even played lead cello for Metallica. ‘Music for Cats’ was born out of his scientific theory on the of music appreciation by animals. Felines establish their sense of music through the sounds heard when they’re kittens: birds chirping, suckling for milk, or their mother’s purr.

With this premise, David composed ‘Music for Cats’, incorporating cat-centric sounds and classical elements. An independent study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science verified that Music for Cats makes for contented kitties.

Music For Cats is released via Universal on October 28.

Amazon
http://po.st/MFCPOPRA

Itunes
http://po.st/MFCPOPRI

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COMPETITION: Is Your Pet Britain’s Most Active?

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National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) has teamed up with Pets Magazine to invite pet owners to share their snaps of happy and active pets. At the height of 2016’s summer of sports, people are being encouraged to celebrate the importance of pet wellbeing and the vital role that exercise plays.

Pet owners can enter the ‘Happy, Healthy Pets’ competition by visiting the www.pethealthinfo.org.uk website by Sunday September 4th. Entrants will be eligible to win a £125 gift voucher for pet goodies.

The campaign, which is also supported by PetFocus, is part of NOAH’s ‘Happy, Healthy Pets Project’.

NOAH, Pets Magazine and PetFocus hope to highlight the importance of keeping pets happy and healthy all year round and paying close attention to their seasonal healthcare needs.

NOAH Chief Executive, Dawn Howard, explained: “With 2016’s summer of sports in full swing, there’s never been a better time to think about the vital role exercise plays in your pet’s wellbeing and why keeping pets active helps keep them happy and healthy in body and mind. We hope that our latest competition will help drive the conversation further and that the UK’s active pets (and their owners!) will help inspire hundreds of others to join them.”

Pets Magazine Editor, Marie Carter, said: “Pets Magazine is delighted to support NOAH’s Active Pets campaign and endorse its fantastic competition to find shining examples of pets who live active and healthy lives.

“Sadly, over half of dogs and cats are now obese in the UK, and most do not get a decent walk a day with owners indulging them in too many treats. It’s so easy to literally kill pets with supposed kindness. If given the chance most dogs would rather feel fit and happy being dogs running or walking across a field with their noses trained firmly to the ground.

“NOAH’s competition is a great opportunity for people to think carefully about the quantity and quality of food they give to their pets and also how they can better build exercise into their pet’s day. As well as a walk, exercise could involve throwing a ball for your dog or active and fun play with a cat. As a magazine which focuses on pets as well as pet owners’ lifestyles and activities people can do with their pets, Pets Mag is really looking forward to seeing all the images of fit, active and happy pets.”

For more information or to submit photos to the gallery, simply visit www.pethealthinfo.org.uk/gallery.

Entries uploaded by Sunday September 4th will be eligible to win a £125 voucher for pet supplies and treats (terms and conditions apply). Entrants must ensure they click the pink competition tick-box to enter when uploading their photos.

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Decorated Penguin Receives Military Promotion At Edinburgh Zoo

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This is the hilarious moment a highly-decorated PENGUIN waddled past a group of royal guards – before receiving a military promotion.

Sir Nils Olav – the highest decorated bird in the world – proudly strutted his stuff as he was promoted to Brigadier.

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The famous bird, who lives at Edinburgh Zoo, was bestowed the title by his Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard who paid him a special visit yesterday (18/08).

Sir Nils paraded his way up Penguin Walk, whilst inspecting the soldiers of the guard.

The impressive bird, which is frequently described by his keepers as regal due to his unique black, white and yellow feathers will now be known as Brigadier Sir Nils Olav.

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Zoo staff said the bird has an aura suggesting he knows exactly how important he is.

Excited Barbara Smith, acting chief executive officer for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “We are honoured to host His Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard as they bestow a prestigious new title upon our king penguin, Sir Nils Olav.

“It is a very proud moment and represents the close collaboration between our two countries, Scotland and Norway.”

The prestigious title was awarded during a special ceremony which was attended by over 50 uniformed soldiers who are taking part in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo this year.

Adopted by Norwegian troops in 1962, he was as pleased as punch as he waddled through the crowds of soldiers and cameramen to receive his latest award.

Brigadier David Allfrey, Producer and Chief Executive of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, added: “This is just a simply fantastic example of the great relations between our two countries, and it couldn’t be a more charming tradition.

“At the Tattoo we of course have many inspecting officers but this is by far my favourite. Congratulations, Brigadier Olav!”

The Guardsmen visit Sir Nils every few years and his keepers say that “Nils always recognises the Norwegian guardsmen when they visit.”

Since his adoption in 1972 he was worked his way up the ranks going from Mascot to Brigadier Sir.

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