Grazia is an Italian women’s magazine, first printed in 1938 when it was modelled on the USA magazine, Harper’s Bazaar. At the time, it was said to focus on traditional family values, such as cooking and child rearing. In recent years, the magazine has expanded its frontiers, now having over twenty international editions, including a British edition which started in 2005, and had a circulation of over 160000 by 2013.
So why is a vet writing a blog about a women’s magazine? Well, in the latest UK edition, Grazia has taken an ill-judged foray into the world of pet breeding. The magazine includes a feature on easy ways to earn extra income, with someone called “Ella”, said to be an estate agent, enthusing about the ease with which she makes extra cash by breeding her Ragdoll cat and Shih Tzu dogs. “Ella” seemed to give lip service to the idea of responsible breeding, saying “You want healthy animals or you get a bad rep. If you think Netmums is bad, you haven’t seen how bitchy pet forums are!”.
“Ella”, as well as the Grazia editorial team, clearly had no idea about the depth of feeling about irresponsible breeding. There has been a social media storm since the magazine was published, with Facebook, Twitter and numerous internet forums boiling with fury about the article. The RSPCA and the Kennel Club issuing statements. The RSPCA pointed out that one in three puppy buyers no longer have their animal three years after purchase, while the Kennel Club urged all potential breeders to seek professional advice before considering starting to breed animals.
The Grazia article is certain to have caused damage. Impressionable and naive readers will be reconsidering having their pets neutered and spayed, mistakenly believing the spiel about how easy it will be to earn cash from their pets. The article made no mention of the need to breed responsibly, with careful selection of breeding partners, pre-breeding health checks, and post-breeding successful rearing of healthy and well-socialised puppies and kittens. The article will have undone years of careful public relations by responsible groups who stress the need to control puppy and kitten breeding.
The magazine has now apologised for any harm caused, but as the coming weeks pass, thousands of readers, at home and in waiting rooms across the UK, will be reading about “Ella” and her scheme for making easy money. The damage to cultural attitudes around pet breeding has been done and will continue to be done. Grazia need to do more than just saying sorry.
Perhaps a friend of “Ella” could write an article about the importance of responsible breeding in a future edition?