September 2010 saw the welcome return of Pup Aid, Brighton's mini-festival and doggy social event of the year that attracts both dogs and anyone who loves or owns one.
Organised by TV's Marc the Vet (Marc Abraham) and his willing team of volunteers, Pup Aid 2011, set in the beautiful gardens of Stanmer Park was once again a great success. This hugely popular dog show and music festival, held to raise awareness about puppy farming was officially opened by Brighton & Hove's Mayor Anne Meadows giving way to the celebrity-judged dog show that formed the first half of this special day.
Famous faces judging the fun doggy classes included stars from EastEnders, Monty Python, Harry Potter, The Apprentice, Emmerdale and The Bill. As well as the Scruffts heats for crossbreds there was Most Stylish Pooch judged by top designer Meg Mathews and Best Dancing Dog chosen by last year's winner of Dancing on Ice Hayley Tamaddon.
But Pup Aid isn't all about happy dogs. It aims to raise much needed public awareness to highlight the cruelty of the UK's puppy farming industry, i.e. the battery farming of dogs purely for profit. Unscrupulous 'breeders' keep thousands of breeding bitches in dark and harsh conditions to be endlessly mated, and mass produce an unlimited amount of puppies sold via pet shops, dealers and free newspaper adverts to unsuspecting new owners, unaware that these tiny new family additions are probably diseased, unsocialised and possibly even dangerous.
These puppies then usually become very ill, generate huge vet bills, never acclimatise to a family home, and invariably deteriorate and die young. The only people made happy by this barbaric system are those puppy farmers that make money out of it.
The crowd of thousands attending Pup Aid were kept entertained by the Hearing Dogs display team, food and exhibitor stalls, stilt walkers as well as have-a-go agility, but most poignantly the unforgettable parade of the rescued ex-breeding bitches - beautiful dogs saved from a horrific, abusive existence on puppy farms – which formed the emotional centrepiece to the whole day.
Fittingly the winner of the Sweetest Chocolate Labrador class, judged by cult TV chocolatiers Choccywoccydoodah, were four rescued puppy farm bitches currently being rehabilitated by puppy farm campaign group Be Puppy Farm Aware.
Brighton & Hove Food Festival ran a fun "Dogs Dinner" invited the city's top restaurants to compete to find who made the best doggy snack most favoured by both canine and humans.
Gifts generously donated by local businesses and celebrity friends of Pup Aid were raffled to raise thousands of pounds for dog charities and a wonderful line-up of bands provided the soundtrack to the afternoon including Los Albertos, Bitter Ruin, Autumn Red with a special guest appearance from Britain's Got Talent's Pip and Pup.
Marc said "I'm thrilled with yet another successful Pup Aid event - even more awareness raised means more people will either choose a rescue dog or contact the Kennel Club for details of a responsible breeder and not buy from pet shops, dealers or online. Pup Aid is all about public education and I urge everyone to consider holding puppy farming awareness events to help curb the demand for these pups."