BBC changes title of puppy breeding show after RSPCA expresses concern

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 22: Rescue puppies Charlie (L) and Ivan are seen during a press conference at Parliament House on October 22, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. The NSW Government has announced the creation of a Puppy Factory Taskforce within the RSPCA to help stop the illegal breeding of puppies. The new Taskforce will consist of six RSPCA inspectors who will spend their time inspecting breeding facilities across the State to ensure they meet the NSW Government's animal welfare requirements. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)
The new BBC Three show will focus on the lives of young dog breeders. (Getty Images)

The BBC has agreed to change the title of new dog breeding show Will My Puppies Make Me Rich? after it was contacted by the RSPCA.

The animal welfare charity wrote to the producers of the upcoming BBC Three series to express concern that the show may glamorise dog breeding and “fuel the illegal puppy trade”.

These apprehensions were reiterated by celebrities including Downton Abbey star Peter Egan and former newsreader Jan Leeming.

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Egan tweeted: “I’m delighted to see @RSPCA_official have raised their concerns with the BBC about @bbcthree’s dreadful idea. It is really ill thought out and not good programming.”

He was responding to the RSPCA’s own tweet saying; “We’re concerned about @BBCThree's commissioned 'Will My Puppies Make Me Rich?' programme as it could lead to dog welfare issues and glamorise breeding. Along with other welfare and vet organisations, we've written to the programme-makers and the BBC urging them to rethink.”

The animal welfare charity also said in a statement: "We're aware of this programme and are concerned that it is extremely irresponsible to encourage and glamorise breeding as a 'get rich quick' scheme which, in turn, could lead to serious dog welfare issues and fuel the illegal puppy trade."

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL - On the eve of South Korea's BokNal days when over 1 million dogs will be killed and eaten, celebrities help shine a spotlight on the cruelty at a photo exhibition hosted by animal charity Humane Society International and MP for Crawley, Henry Smith, at Palace of Westminster, on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in London. Downton Abbey's Peter Egan viewed a photo gallery depicting dogs HSI has saved from the slaughter, and watched iDog, HSI's new virtual reality campaign tool. HSI campaigns to end the dog meat trade across Asia. (Photo by Keith Sheriff/AP Images for Humane Society International)
Downton Abbey's Peter Egan is an avid campaigner for animal rights. (AP)

In response the BBC has said the title of the series – which follows young dog breeders in the North of England trying to build a new business during lockdown – will be changed.

A statement said: "This observational documentary does not glamorise dog breeding, it responsibly examines the growing rise of young people entering the business and highlights the importance of good animal welfare, training and licensing.

English television presenter Jan Leeming and her pet poodle Sheba inspect a model of a giraffe, one of the pieces of 'instant art' on the BBC children's programme 'Tom Tom', at the BBC TV Centre in London, 24th November 1969. Leeming is a new member of the 'Tom Tom' team.  (Photo by Frank Barrett/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Dog lover Jan Leeming keeps rescue dogs who fell victim to 'puppy farming'. (Getty Images)

"The production team are working closely with animal experts throughout to inform the audience of what constitutes good and bad practice."

A petition calling for the show to be dropped has gathered more than 60,000 signatures.

TV presenter Leeming, 78, called the show an “appalling programme idea”, adding that the “BBC should be ashamed”.

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BBC Three announced last month it had commissioned the series after it won a “best pitch” competition at the Sheffield Doc/Fest documentary film festival.

The price of puppies more than doubled during the first coronavirus lockdown, with dogs costing an average of almost £1,900.

Animal welfare charities have expressed fears this could encourage smuggling, dog theft and “puppy farming”.

Watch: Puppy scams sparked by the rising demand in lockdown

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