John Docker: Do our pets really need to be given deer antlers?

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I was surprised to see reindeer antlers on sale in the local pet shop last week. Apparently they are hugely popular as a long-lasting, nutritious, but highly expensive dog-chew - a three-inch sliver was on offer for over £3.

“Ah but they last a long time” was the response to our incredulous shock-horror.

So they might, but for a naturally-sourced, cast-off antler, it did seem a touch pricey to say the least.

One has to wonder when the criminals will find this new market valuable enough to start sourcing from live animals.

With rhino horns now worth more to smugglers than drugs or diamonds, I fear it won’t be long.

I also find it disturbing that in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, we seem to be entering an era of celebrity witch-hunting.

The did-he, didn’t-he speculation about popular Corrie star Michael Le Vell is over and acquittal on all charges must be a huge relief for him and his family - but what an awful experience to live with.

Mud inevitably sticks and the irrational but widely-held belief that there’s no smoke without fire will surely cast a shadow for the rest of his life.

The long-held system of British justice - innocent until proven guilty, appears to have been reversed in recent years.

All too often people are presumed guilty until they can prove their innocence - by which time it is far too late to salvage their reputation.

I suspect it won’t be too long before mindless cyber-freaks tire of on-line bullying and look for a new means of sick entertainment - like pulling names out of a hat and reporting them for indecent assault to the local cop shop. What a world we live in!

Speaking of celebrities, I see Sir Bob Geldof is to launch into space next year. He’ll be on his own with the pilot apparently, but I can think of at least half a dozen A-listers I would love to see accompany him – on a one-way ticket!

I really cannot see what all the fuss is about plastic bank notes, or why we need consultations, focus groups and public meetings in shopping centres to “test public opinion.”

I first came across them in Australia over 20 years ago. They’re brilliant – clean, crisp, difficult to counterfeit, washable and when you see the state of much of our paper currency, must surely be far more hygienic. Why on earth has it has taken so long to wake up to them over here, I wonder? Maybe someone in high office has shares in De La Rue!

Finally, on the local scene, I’m delighted to see the future of Stamford Hospital is looking secure with a planned £3.8m redevelopment programme. I just hope the tendering process for the remaining 60 per cent of the site will not repeat Private Finance Initiative mistakes of the past. Otherwise our grandchildren may well be looking at a bail-out too!