Putting seafood eating off limits.

The UK Government is considering sentience status for lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans which could put some of our traditional seafood eating off limits.

Could it be the end of eating cockles and mussels ‘alive alive oh’ in the U.K.

It now appears that the United Kingdom government might seriously consider declaring decapod and cephalopods crustaceans, and more doubtfully even molluscs, as sentient beings and amend the UK Animal Welfare Act accordingly. For those in our seafaring nation who have historically indulged in eating cockles and mussels and all other seafood, it is bad news as it could put seafood eating off limits. Personally, I have never been a great seafood eater so on that count I will not really be affected, but there are millions who might be.

So can lobsters, crabs, octopuses, squid and molluscs have feelings, feel pain and suffer? We should get an official view soon as there has been a review of scientific findings on whether these animals qualify for the status of sentience and the findings are overdue.

Veterinarians back sentience for crustaceans.

The results of the review are eagerly awaited by many campaigning animal charities such as Crustacean Compassion who strongly feel these animals have the required qualities for this new status. Many people may find it a totally ludicrous idea, but the British Veterinary Association (BVA),  the Animal Welfare Science Ethics and Law Veterinary Association (AWSELVA) and dozens of animal charities are supporting the move.

decapods and cephalopods should be regarded in legislation as having consciousness and the capacity to experience feelings such as pleasure and pain”.

New BVA policy on sentience for decapods.
Live crab in vacuum pack.
Live crab vacuum packed on supermarket shelf to slowly asphyxiate.

Will we stop eating lobsters?

The question is whether this new status would impact our traditional seafood eating habits and increase our respect for the animals involved. Will it curb our desire to eat them? Definitely not, but it will put Pescatarians under pressure, who will have to search their conscience and decide whether to go the whole yard in giving up flesh altogether. And anyway we eat billions of other sentient animals worldwide each year without any real thought to their welfare.

Will it stop them being boiled alive or having their legs cut off? I would hope so. Will it stop live ones being crammed into tanks in restaurants and markets for us to choose. Perhaps. Will it restrict their availability? Doubtful. Will it stop live crabs being displayed on supermarket shelves vacuum packed? Definitely.

But will it really improve their welfare to a great extent? Probably not, as in practical terms it is difficult to police any protection unless we ban their culinary use completely.

Can we really protect them?

Take the case of the poor lobster. Will it be possible to protect their welfare at the point of capture in pots, the transport on fishing boats, their care while being held in markets or storage and their slaughter by licensed persons. Difficult. Will it end the traditional children’s seaside hobby of buying a crab line to yank tiny ones out of the water for no real purpose and then throwing them back often from a great height? Hopefully as it sends the wrong message to children.

Don’t get me wrong I would love to see these higher crustaceans protected as I have always believed they have as much individual character and emotions as any other animal and suffer unfairly at our hands as do larger fish species. As for molluscs it seems unrealistic that we shall ever see protection for them.

If we do join the handful of countries that already classify these animals as sentient, it might encourage North American and European States to take note. Unfortunately, Asian cultures whose eating habits are mainly seafood based will probably never see this point of view, but it will be interesting to see how all this pans out.

Creative dog grooming out of control.

Judging by some of the outlandish mutilations of dogs on TV programs such as Pooch Perfect and social media, creative dog grooming appears to be getting out of control.

Judging by some of the outlandish mutilations of dogs on TV and social media, creative dog grooming appears to be getting out of control. I cannot understand how any dog owner who sincerely has any love or respect for their supposed best friend could allow them to be put through such humiliation, but then I am just a dog lover myself and obviously do not “get it” or understand this phenomenon.

Creative dog grooming has been around since the sixties and its invention is blamed on the age of the hippies who coloured and dressed their pets. It is not new as the UK has held a championship for many years and the USA since 1973 but it is only recently that it has become more outrageous.

Turning dogs into another animal.

Creative dog grooming is described as a way for groomers to deviate from breed profile grooms by using colour dyes, extensions and carving in order to turn a dog into another animal or famous character. It has become a very profitable service for professional groomers, but like many crazes, things get out of hand when social media and TV step in and everyone loses sight of the animals involved.

It was sadly a UK nation of dog lover’s company, Beyond Productions, that came up with the idea, modelled on Strictly Come Dancing and Singing contests with a panel of judges. It is obviously destined to become a global franchise. Australia’s Seven Network has a version and ABC in the USA  has ten groomers competing in a serious of “outrageous themed challenges”.

Celebrates our love of dogs.

The UK version “Pooch Perfect” hasn’t quite stooped this low so far in our attitude to dogs but give it time. It’s Facebook page states that the program ‘celebrates the nation’s love of dogs’, but it seems a strange way of showing it. They also insist their groomers must let their imagination off the lead when they give four curly coated canines a cute teddy bear trim. Note the pun there.

Even the mainstream media see no harm in it with quotes such as “Ever thought your dog wasn’t jazzy enough, and that maybe with a pair of scissors and a tin of spray paint you could have the best looking mutt in town”.

Audiences lapping up creative dog grooming.

There is no shortage of owners willing to put their dogs forward for this humiliation and have a chance of getting on TV and audiences are lapping it up judging by comments on social media and the show’s website. American owners are willing to do whatever it takes to make their dogs the wackiest in attempting to win $5,000. There is even a veterinarian on the panel of the judges, so the veterinary profession must believe its harmless. Really?

It will not be long,  I am sure, when we will be back in the good old days of the circus and have barking contests, beauty shows, dressing up shows and dogs doing tricks on TV. Am I missing something here? Is it really just good fun? Am I just being an old grouch or is it a sign that we have fundamentally lost sight of our respect for animals?

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