Friday, February 15, 2013

One Man's meat....

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the
way its animals are treated.”

It's been a weird couple of weeks for us animal lovers in Britain.
In Glasgow, a man was charged with breach of the peace for behaving in a threatening and abusive manner. He was trying to feed a sausage roll to a police horse. This is going to court sometime in February in what may be a first for the Scottish legal system. His defence, in a statement issued by his lawyer, is that he thought the horse looked hungry and he was indulging in a humanitarian act of kindness. As yet the horse has not been available for comment.

Meanwhile, in London a fox bit off the finger of a four week old baby. The parents managed to get to the bedroom in time to pull the child from the beast. The child had its finger sewn on again. Of course that  is a tragedy but as crime writers and crime fans, some questions spring to mind I’m sure. A four week old baby? Minus 2 outside? The baby was in a bedroom?  The fox was...? The police say inquiries continue. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has called for action.  He doesn't specify what action.

Fox attacks are rare, and this incident was reported as ‘the last in a long line.’ In June a couple of years back a fox was supposed to have gone into a house, through the kitchen, upstairs into the bedroom and attacked nine month old twins.  The parents were watching X Factor as the fox crept past them.  Allegedly.  'The last  in a long line' is merely one incident where a toddler who was taken to hospital after being bitten by a fox. The wee boy was climbing over rough ground and placed his hand inadvertently in a fox’s lair, the mum fox had cubs and snapped at him. Unfortunate but understandable.

So we are in the midst of national outcry and demands for action while wildlife presenter Chris Packham said he simply does not believe reports of people getting attacked by foxes. He says most stories are anecdotal, foxes rarely attack dogs, cats or children.  They are much more likely to be attacked by dogs not vice versa.
This latest turn of events prompted a Channel 4 fox census.  90% of folk love the 40 400 urban foxes.  (Ok so they are more likely to respond to the survey!) 80 percent said that fox-spotting "enriched" their lives, 33% admitted to feeding foxes in their gardens. Only one in ten said the animals should be removed from Britain's cities but there is a problem there, they are not vermin and therefore ‘removal’ is not included in any public funding.

I’ve treated a few foxes over the years at a local wildlife trust. They have a great sense of humour and will gladly have a carry on. One fox lived for three years in a council flat in Dundee ten floors up. It is not possible to keep them as pets – foxes have a lovely habit of eating, then regurgitating their food, usually burying it down the back of the sofa where they will leave it for a few days until it gets ‘tasty’.  They are  not pets. End of.

The folk who run Hessilhead wildlife rescue say that Urban Mr fox and Country Mr fox are evolving as two distinct species.One hunts in bins, eats chicken vindaloo as a staple diet and  has a brown coat  with very little white mask. The other hunts where it can, has red coat and has a white mask with black whiskers. It's normally much thinner than its  city slicker cousins. 

Meanwhile a Spice Girl’s dog ran off and was found dead by a railway track.   Another woman mortgaged her house to raise funds for a reward when her dog ran off. Both dogs were chipped but not on a lead, neither of them were sufficiently trained to come back when called. There was a report this week that dog theft is on the increase, cars being broken into, in order to kidnap a friendly-looking, pedigree pooch that will be stolen to order. They are the new ‘drugs money’ crime. 40 a day in 2012.  Working, trained, gun dogs being the most sought after.

And now parliament has announced, this week, that microchipping will be mandatory from April 2016. Every dog in the UK will be entered on a database similar to car registration and there will be a £500 fine issued to any owner failing to chip their dog. As with all schemes people who love their dogs will comply, the problem owners with the problem dogs will not. I have a drug dealer’s pit bull, she was called Satan when I got her. Now called Emily.  Once her leather studded collar was replaced by a red velvet one her street cred was gone.
As people like pointing out they are considered 'inherently dangerous,’ For twenty years it has been illegal to breed them or import them. It is illegal for them to be out without a lead or with anybody under 18 years old. Emily is a polite, friendly dog who likes getting her tummy rubbed and eating snow.  It’s the human that has to remember that she was bred by humans to have one of the strongest bites on the face of the planet.

Meanwhile a scandal broke with Burger King burgers being found to contain horse meat and that was just the start of it, Lidl, Tesco.   It has sparked a strange debate that has taken another turn today. Shock horror!

                                                        empty shelves all over Britain

  The British don’t eat cute things. This meat was no risk to public health.  The moral vegetarians are pointing out that   big brown eyes or not- the abattoir has one outcome.  The economic vegetarians point out that quality meat is £18. What do you think you are eating when it costs £1.99? Buying a ready meal is disguised. Few folk can look at pig trotters or rabbits hanging without feeling a little tug of guilt. Each time I go to France I am amazed at how up front they are about what they are eating; at the  butchers there  is a some dead flesh with a picture on it..a cow, a pig, a sheep, a horse. In Britain the animal in the field and the mince on the plate are two totally separate entities.

But the jokes have been wild;
Personally, I think people who don’t like eating horse meat are being a bit blinkered and Tesco say that their beef burger sales remain stable. What next? Sp
aghetti Bologneighs?   What do you want on your burger – a fiver each way? My doctor told me to watch what I eat, so I went out and bought tickets for the Grand National. I selected some burgers on the Tesco website. And then clicked ‘Add to cart.’ So there’s horse meat in Tesco’s burgers. Don’t worry, it’s not the mane ingredient.
And a genuine quote "I don’t know why there’s a fuss all of a sudden. There’s been horse meat in Tesco burgers for donkeys years."
My favourite was Tesco would’ve got away with it if it wasn’t for the DN Neigh test.

Caro Friday 15th Feb  GB 

Ps Have you heard? Now traces of zebra have been found in Tesco barcodes.


  1. I'm with Michael, Caro. It's in your DN (nah, I won't say it) A. By the way, my girlfriend is a portrait artist who works in pencil, with dogs now as her primary subjects. I think that's because she misses her two rescue pit bulls back in Athens. PS, she's a brilliant artist if I may say so.

  2. Warning! Do not read that last paragraph while consuming liquids! Your keyboard may not survive...