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(Updated 13/6/01)

Puppy ban for Big Brother House?

FOR THOSE of us who enjoy “Voyeur TV”, then the towel-dropping antics of teacher Penny and her fellow ‘housemates’ of the Channel 4’s ‘Big Brother’ house are compulsive viewing. Alternatively, watching paint dry would garner almost as many viewers, writes Nick Mays.

However, a rumour abounded last week in which it was alleged that the producers of ‘Big Brother’ had planned to introduce one or possibly three Shih-Tzu puppies into the House for the housemates to look after, just as they tend to a few chickens in the back garden.

According to a short “exclusive” article in the DAILY MIRROR, the RSPCA banned Big Brother from having three Shih-Tzu puppies in the house. The puppies were to have been bought from a pet shop in Ireland, although, like most of the story, this has not been substantiated.

The article says: “The £300 dogs were to keep the housemates company for a few days but it is believed a worker on TV show Pet Rescue tipped off the animal charity.

It objected on “practical and ethical” grounds.

Pet shop owner Doreen Pemberton, who owns the dogs, said: “It’s disgusting.
“No way would we allow these dogs to be harmed.”

The truth, as always, is far less entertaining than the speculation. A spokesperson for London-based Bazel productions, who produce both Big Brother and Pet Rescue told OUR DOGS:
“It’s just not true. There was an idea to have a dog in the House, at this was at the planning stages. We consulted with our contacts at the RSPCA who advise us on Pet Rescue, which we also produce. They said that it would not be a good idea, so we decided not to go ahead with it.”

Asked whether an approach had been made to Doreen Pemberton or any other breeder to acquire the puppies, the spokesperson said flatly: “I haven’t got a clue about any pet shop being approached.”

RSPCA press officer Ann Charlton also told OUR DOGS: “We advised the makers of Big Brother that we didn’t approve of the use of pets in the Big Brother house. We don’t have the power to ban their use.”
So no dogs in the Big Brother house then. Allegedly.