Wednesday, 2 May 2012

ITV = Irresponsible TV

A scene from the show, image from ITV
On Saturday night, ITV aired a show called Keith Lemon's Lemonaid hosted by popular TV presenter and comic Keith Lemon.  One thing I certainly did not expect to hear about this show was a young child being given a Pug puppy as a prize after joining fellow contestants in completing an agility course alongside their parents whilst dressed up as dogs, holding bones in their mouths.  The pair with the most bones won the puppy, presented by pop star and reality TV show star Peter Andre dressed as a large bone... Yes, it does sound somewhat like a nightmare but unfortunately it really did happen.

The child was literally handed the pedigree puppy and there was no mention of the costs, care or commitment involved in caring for a real life puppy.  Under normal circumstances the participants of the competition would not be able to afford to buy a pedigree puppy and many concerned animal welfare campaigners feel that ITV are setting a bad example, causing animals to look like disposable commodities and making a mockery of campaigns designed to prevent people buying dogs on impulse or as gifts.  One such campaign is the "Where's Mum" campaign launched on Mother's Day which will run throughout the summer, endorsed by celebrities, their Mum's and their dogs which will continue to raise awareness until Pup Aid on September 8th.

Surprisingly it is not illegal in England or Wales to give a live pet away, it is only illegal to give a pet away to a child under 16 without their parent's consent.  However, it is illegal in Scotland, where the show was also shown, which means that ITV displayed a prime time entertainment show depicting an illegal act.  

It shouldn't surprise you that it was ITV who irresponsibly decided to air their Super Tiny Animals show in the run up to Christmas fuelling the lust for miniature pets just as children were compiling their Christmas lists.  They still haven't responded to the numerous complaints condemning them for this behaviour and have simply ignored many concerned viewers and animal organisations.

In my complaint to OFCOM I told them that I didn't think a competition prize of a live animal was acceptable and not comparable to giving away a flat screen TV or games console.  I also asked ITV to make clear where they got the pug puppy from (how can we be sure they didn't purchase it from a puppy farm?)

What do other animal welfare campaigners think?

The Dogs Trust have released the following statement 

"Dogs Trust was shocked and disappointed to see a puppy being given as a prize on Keith Lemon's show, Lemonaid. It is highly inappropriate to promote the frivolous gifting of dogs in this fashion and we are concerned that viewers may follow suit without giving any thought to the life-long commitment that dogs command. It was irresponsible to allow such a flippant competition to air on a prime time entertainment television slot. Sadly, animal welfare charities like Dogs Trust often deal with the fallout when dogs are bought on a whim and discarded when the novelty wears off. This poor attempt at entertainment was ill-judged and we urge ITV to issue a full and considered response on this matter.

For more information and advice about rehoming a dog please go to"

Debbie Connolly Animal Behaviouralist at Safe Pets UK blog post.

More statements including The Kennel Club and RSPCA.

Check out Beverley Cuddy's coldwetnose blog for a description of the show and further information.  It will also be possible to watch the show on ITV Player for a limited amount of time.

Please join the Facebook campaign Keith Lemon's Puppy Prize Protest and invite your friends too.

Please complain directly to ITV at by e-mailing or the producer, alternatively you can write to them at Viewer Services ITV Plc, Gas Street, Birmingham B1 2JT.  Feel free to copy and paste this blog post into the message, although stating your opinion in your own words would make more of an impact.

Please complain to OFCOM about this utterly irresponsible TV show by clicking here.  The show was called Keith Lemon's LemonAid and was on ITV at 18.15 on Saturday 28th April.

Please sign this petition calling for The Animal Welfare Act to be amended making it an offence to give away an animal as a prize.

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