Buy a doggie sweater, go to jail?


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Britain’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has a bone to pick with owners who dress their pets in elaborate clothing -- you know, the doggie getups you’ll see so frequently on any stroll down Robertson or Melrose.

Items such as dog overalls and boots can actually present a health risk, says the RSPCA -- and it’s prepared to use legal action when it feels a dog’s welfare is being compromised for the sake of fashion. Overheating is the primary concern, says the Telegraph:


Helen Briggs, a spokeswoman from the RSPCA, added: ‘Under the Animal Welfare Act, you are obliged to provide appropriate conditions and environments for your dog. So if you are slapping a great big coat on it when it really doesn’t need it, then that could cause it to suffer if it is overheating. It is the same as if you leave a dog in a car in hot weather. ‘Some breeds have been bred to have less fur, so in some cases it is quite appropriate for a dog to wear a coat in very cold weather. But if an owner is just doing it for a fashion statement or because they think it is cool, I would question that. If people are worried that their dog might be cold, it is worth getting some advice from their vet to see if it is appropriate or not.’

But Dorset RSPCA spokeswoman Jo Barr told the Daily Mail that, in addition to concerns for dogs’ temperature and freedom of movement, canine couture can be demeaning to the animals:

‘We’re concerned that any pet should be viewed as a fashion accessory. Taking on an animal is a long-term commitment. It’s quite humiliating and sends out the wrong message about pet care. ‘We’ve seen trends in recent years brought about by the rise in celebrities with ‘handbag dogs’’

-- Lindsay Barnett