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‘No’ to Wolfhound in EastEnders

(c) BBC
The Miller family who will be moving into Albert Square later this month,
with Genghis, the Irish Wolfhound

IRISH WOLFHOUND enthusiasts are outraged that the BBC is including a badly behaved Wolfhound as the pet of a family of troublemakers in its primetime soap opera EastEnders.

They say that the portrayal of the dog will be a bad reflection on the breed and fuel the concerns of the anti-dog lobby.

The new family is set to send Albert Square into chaos next month as they explode onto our screens. The Millers are family to actor Joe Swash's character Mickey and move into 27 Albert Square, next door to Dot and Jim Branning. The family are comprised of dad Keith, mum Rosie, twins Demi and Darren and eldest son Mickey. The family also includes Genghis, described as ‘a seven foot’ Irish Wolfhound!

Quoted on the soap’s website, Executive Producer Louise Berridge says: 'I'm delighted to introduce the Miller family, who will be joining Mickey on Albert Square in September, but I warn you - this lot are trouble. Even the dog is dodgy. They're set to cause havoc all over the Square, and by the end of their first week the sparks will be flying - literally.'

Irish Wolfhound breeders Anne and Paul Vaudin of Torteval Irish Wolfhounds in Guernsey have organised a petition against the inclusion of ‘Genghis’ in EastEnders and so far have collected over 11,000 signatures. They intend to send the petition to the EastEnders production office and also to the Director General of the BBC.

The Vaudin’s website states: "We believe that this could have a very detrimental effect on the welfare of the breed in the UK. Concerned owners have been writing to the BBC for over a month, but although they say their comments will be taken into account they are not prepared to drop the dog from the show.

"Irish wolfhounds are not well suited to city living, have a relatively short lifespan, represent a heavy financial commitment and need a large amount space and time. Effectively marketing the breed to people who have no experience or knowledge may cause suffering for years to come by stimulating an increased demand for wolfhound puppies, leading to puppy farming, dog theft, unsuitable homes, and ultimately, a re-homing crisis for the breed."

Anne Vaudin told OUR DOGS: "We strongly object to the Irish wolfhound being portrayed as a dog suited to inner city life. Although there are owners who are sufficiently committed and dedicated to the welfare of their dogs to keep them in an urban environment, the wolfhound is a giant breed, a galloping hound and above all, a sight-hound. He needs open space in which he can safely run free on a daily basis. We believe that the wolfhound in EastEnders is to be portrayed in a way which will do the breed's reputation a grave disservice, particularly in today's anti-large-dog climate e.g. he will be seen knocking people down and chasing smaller dogs."

Mrs Vaudin pointed out that she was aware, realistically that it was too late to prevent Genghis from appearing, but was hopeful that the petition would persuade the BBC to write him out earlier than they would otherwise have done and thus shorten the number of his appearances.

Mrs Vaudin added: "Sadly, there are many ways in which the wolfhound could be written out of the series whilst being true to life. Death at an early age from cardiomyopathy, osteosarcoma or gastric dilation/volvulus would all be typical, and would provide an opportunity to inform the public of some of the heartache that wolfhounds can bring with them. "The BBC could make amends with the wolfhound community by showing some of the problems of life with a wolfhound and having the family seek a better, more appropriate home, or, since the series seems to pride itself on being topical and controversial, they could have him stolen by puppy farmers."

A BBC spokesperson for the EastEnders production office told OUR DOGS earlier this week: "The Millers are probably the least likely family in the history of EastEnders to be seen as role models, and we are certainly not advocating the suitability of them as pet owners. In addition, we make it clear that a dog of this kind requires an enormous amount of exercise.

"EastEnders is in no way promoting the suitability of keeping such a large animal in such a small environment. The EastEnders website will also be featuring information on the breed and how to properly care for an Irish Wolfhound."