It's time to paws for thought over how we treat our pets

WE Brits are well known to be barking mad when it comes to our pets.The nation has for years been enduring the worst recession ever, yet we can still conjure up an astonishing £4billion a year to lavish on our family treasures.

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Almost half of all UK households have a pet - it's 40% in Scotland - with around 17 million of them cats and dogs.

And amid a quirky Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, starring the Duke of Wellington and his traffic cone, a new take on the Glasgow Kiss, and a splendidly observant Celtic Park during God Save The Queen, what had the nation in raptures?

A pack of 41 wee dugs stealing the show from us humans.

In marriage, Nancy and me became cat people, but when we met I had a magnificent wee Scottie called, you've guessed it, Jock.

So we enthusiastically joined in the universal "aaws" and "aahs" as those tartan-clad Highland terriers led out the competing nations.

It was an inspired touch and all the more refreshing since, had it been left to the BBC with their Glasgow 2014 invasion of London-based presenters, our Scotties would no doubt have been replaced by the Queen's Corgis.

Scotties supposedly epitomise the dour Scot, but I can vouch that our wee Jock was stubborn, grumpy, affectionate, fun-loving, loyal and brave as a lion. Just like the Scots, in fact.

We don't need any studies to tell us our pets have human emotions - or that they get jealous, according to last week's survey on the bleeding obvious from scientists at the University of California - any more than we should need doggy weather forecasts.

But we now have those, too.

Former world heavyweight boxing champion David Haye last week fronted the launch of the Weather Pawcast, the first forecast strictly for dogs to raise awareness of the dangers of the recent scorching weather.

I've heard it rumoured a Scottish Pawcast could be presented by St Bernard Ponsonby, but I may be barking up the wrong tree, it could be Duggie Donnelly.

Whoever, you would hope the dangers posed by soaring temperatures would be blindingly obvious to dog owners, but we're still reading tragic tales of pets being left to fry in family cars.

A pet insurance company has come up with the Pawcast wheeze.

While they're at it, Glasgow could do with some dog poo forecasts.

"A canine confluence is converging on a pavement near you, starting with acid rain precipitation, strong wind, heavy dumps, and a high risk of severe depression, usually caused by some poor unsuspecting sod's shoe."

You may have expected the Hayemaker to appear with some straining, frothing devil dog. But, no, on came the big man with his pet Chihuahua. Classic.

In some societies, Haye's wee pal - and our wee Jock - would be looked upon admiringly as a light snack.

In countries where cats and dogs are seen as protein, not pets, and where the latest weapon for the jihadis are the dog and donkey bombs, our claim to be a nation of animal lovers causes much bemusement.

We claim the moral high ground, yet we happily eat cow, lamb, piglet, deer, chicken, birds, fish and seafood - in fact, almost anything that can be made moderately palatable by a barrage of E numbers and galloped on to our supermarket shelves.

In South Korea alone an estimated 2.5 million dogs are eaten each year, as are millions more around the world.

The topic has sparked a social media storm in America, where their SPCA say 1.2 million dogs are euthanised every year.

A feature on global US telly channel CNN promoted the controversial views of vegetarian and novelist Jonathan Foer.

He believes the best option is to eat these dogs, since their disposal is proving an enormous ecological and economic problem.

In a country that spends $58.5bn-a-year on pets - and where actor George Clooney famously doted on his pet pig Max for 18 years - such a notion causes revulsion.

It would be the same here, akin to tucking into a member of your family (although many Twitter Yanks have openly wondered how bits of Mr Foer might taste with some fava beans and a nice Chianti).

According to the Dogs Trust, the UK's largest dog welfare charity, 111,986 strays were picked up across the UK last year, 3525 in Scotland, and almost 9000 dogs are humanely destroyed each year.

The Scottish SPCA says they never put a healthy animal to sleep.

The Dogs Trust would like to say the same but they're facing an economic reality similar to the Americans.

It makes you think. If humans are as overpopulated as it's claimed, when do we go on the menu?

Either way, it's true what they say, never make friends with your dinner.

Pets

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