Janetta Harvey talks about her campaigning against puppy farming
(Q) Have dogs and writing always been part of your life?
(A) “We weren’t allowed to have dogs as children, after we lost our first to a brain tumour when she was only three years old. My mum was so upset that my dad said he couldn’t cope with the emotional upset in the house again. So, I had to wait until I got Jasmine; she was the first dog my husband and I lived with.
“I believe Jasmine came from a dealer in puppy farmed dogs but, at the time, like many, I turned a blind eye because of my desire to have a puppy.
“We had fourteen and a half years together; she was a sparkling character and she taught us about the true meaning of loving a dog like they’re family. Her passing was the most painful experience. My other dogs, Renae, Susie-Belle, and Twinkle now tread in Jasmine’s ‘paw steps’ and I like to think that her spirit lives on in them.
“It was partly as a tribute to her that I wanted to write my first book on puppy farming. I feel that many people — like me when I chose Jasmine — turn away from the reality which lies behind the cute puppy they want. I wanted to help raise awareness of the dreadful conditions in which these puppies are bred.
“Acting as I did when I got Jasmine, I now try hard not to judge people buying puppies from these backstreet breeders. There was so much less information around then than there is today, and I hope my books help people to make more informed choices. I find it hard at times when people wilfully ignore the cruelty of the puppy farm trade.”
(Q) Was ‘Saving Susie-Belle’ your first book? Can you tell us how that book came about?
(A) “I’ve written two books in my professional life, but ‘Saving Susie-Belle’ is the one I am most proud of and the one about which I feel deeply emotional. Susie-Belle is a puppy farm survivor and the book is a personal account of the first year of our lives together.
“I had kept a blog for a while, detailing her progress, and her relationship with our other Miniature Schnauzer, Renae. People suggested it would make a good story for a book. I wanted to do something more than just rescue one dog; I wanted to actively campaign. But, as we spend a lot of time in France, committing to volunteering in any capacity was difficult. So, writing and trying to promote awareness of puppy farming was what I could, and still can, do, and the idea for the book was developed to include our life in France as well as here. It gives an interesting angle to life for a puppy farming survivor to go from having no home, to now having two — one of which is over the Channel!
“I wrote an outline of the book, focusing on what makes our life with Susie-Belle of some interest to other people; our life in France and the good food we have because my husband is a professional chef. I was fortunate that the publisher, John Blake, agreed that the story helped to frame the anti-puppy farming message, which runs strongly through the book and is why the book is out there at all.”
(Q) You did a lot of research into puppy farming for your books; can you tell us what it felt like to visit one?
(A) “I’ve never gone into a puppy farm because I know I could not cope with the emotional difficulties of this.
“Rescuers have to maintain delicate relationships with puppy farmers in order to save any of the dogs; this requires great skill on their part, and I know that I could not keep my opinions to myself, which would mean further rescue work would be jeopardised.
“I have great admiration for the rescuers who do this and who speak up about what they see and witness. In my new book, ‘Saving One More’ I include first-hand accounts from rescuers; they are harrowing and something that would haunt me if I saw what they saw. I hope that, in my writing, serious emotional issues. It also takes a wider look at the global puppy farming industry and the implications for the health and well-being of the dogs involved.”
(Q) You mention your new book; can you tell us what it has in store for readers?
(A) “‘Saving One More’ continues Susie-Belle’s story and in this one, she and Renae are joined by Twinkle, a puppy farm survivor with serious emotional issues. It also takes a wider look at the global puppy farming industry and the implications for the health and well-being of the dogs involved.”
(Q) What do you hope readers will take from the books?
(A) “That they must do their bit to help end what is a dreadful industry. Dogs are being bred purely for money. There is no love of the dogs involved at all and this is an industry on a global scale, which is thriving because people are buying the puppies.
“I hope to encourage readers to join me and other campaigners to do everything they can to make others realise what they are a part of if they buy their puppies anywhere other than from reputable breeders, or adopt from a rescue charity.”
(Q) What’s next in your bid to help end puppy farming in the UK?
(A) “‘Saving One More’ will be published in September 2015 and I will continue to write and campaign and hope that my endeavours contribute to bringing about a change for the better in the lives of many dogs. I share our lives in my books with the aim of inspiring others to rescue dogs like mine, and to join the campaign to end the puppy farming industry.
“My next project is a children’s book aimed at eight to 11 year olds. I’m working with an illustrator and we hope the book will help to influence the next generation of puppy buyers.”