Debate: Is it right or wrong to dress up pets?
Alison Jones, owner of pet clothing company Prince & Princess Petwear, explains why she thinks dressing up your pet is just a bit of harmless fun. In response, Lyn Williams, founder of dog charity Happy Dogs, reveals why she’s opposed to terriers in tutus.
THE CASE FOR DRESSING UP, BY ALISON JONES
‘We started off selling collars on eBay and it snowballed from there. Business is really booming and we’ve had our best year yet. We ship pet clothes to Japan, Scandinavia and Estonia – but the UK market has really taken off.
‘Our biggest seller is a dog parka, which retails at £15. We do a range of clothes for cats and dogs but we don’t sell things like shoes or wigs. That’s a step too far. We also stock vest tops for cats that have fine coats or skin complaints. Our range of pet clothes wouldn’t restrict a pet in their day-to-day life. Except for a hood and a design, our coats are just like traditional animal ones.
‘The trend is definitely down to owners making a fashion statement. People see celebrities like Paris Hilton with her Chihuahua and aspire to it. It’s just harmless fun. Plus women are waiting until they’re older to have children, so a pet becomes their baby.
‘People like to pamper pets. Even in times of hardship, most genuine animal lovers wouldn’t scrimp on their pets. If an animal doesn’t want to wear clothes it will let you know. My sister tried to put a coat on her dog and he ran a mile, so she didn’t try again.
‘As far as provoking aggression in other animals is concerned – well, I’m yet to be convinced. I’ve been in the business for a few years and have never had any complaints on that score. You read sad stories all the time about animals being abandoned. If I hear that a dog has its own wardrobe, I know it’s being well looked after.’
You can see Alison's range of products at princeprincesspetwear.co.uk.
THE CASE AGAINST DRESSING UP, BY LYN WILLIAMS
‘Dogs shouldn’t wear clothes unless it’s for a medical or professional reason. Only Chihuahuas and other dogs with a fine coat need a protective layer in winter while rescue dogs such as Border Collies wear their jackets with pride for the important jobs they do.
‘I’ve seen dogs in clothes and little boots – it’s ridiculous. The animals have no say in the matter. If their owners decide to dress them up in knickers and paint their toe nails pink, what can they do about it? By nature, dogs will do whatever we ask of them out of a desire to please, but that doesn’t mean to say they enjoy it.
‘How can a clothed dog possibly do all the things it loves – gambolling across fields, rolling around with other dogs – when it’s trussed up in a tracksuit? Dogs and cats were born with their own beautiful coats, so why cover these up with frills and sequins? I think it’s verging on animal cruelty.
‘I believe the owners are more concerned about their own image than the happiness of their pets. Their dog or cat becomes a mere fashion accessory. Either that or they’re so unhappy, they’re trying to fulfill a need in themselves. Have they ever considered the reaction their pet may be sending out to other dogs? It can lead to confusion and aggression.
There are plenty of ways to show your love, but dressing a pet up in miniature versions of human clothes is unnatural, unnecessary and unkind.’
You can find out more about Lyn's charity at happydogsrescue.co.uk.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Clothing for pets is a booming market with spending expected to break the £30m mark in the UK this year. What's your opinion? Do dogs and cats enjoy the attention, or does the clothing craze say more about their owners’ needs? Please let us know what you think by commenting in the box below.