We are shocked to learn that a raccoon was made to wear a bow tie and ride a bicycle at Bluewater Shopping Centre this weekend, and fear it could encourage others to host a similarly irresponsible show in the lead up to Christmas.

The event occurred as part of a ‘Pet Expo’ which aimed to promote responsible pet ownership and animal welfare, but we strongly disagree that this aim has been achieved by an animal performing such a circus-style stunt.

RSPCA Head of Communications David Cowdrey said:

“We have been left wondering how the deeply saddening spectacle of a raccoon in a bow tie riding a bike can possibly promote a message of good pet ownership.


“It is just such a demeaning way to portray a wild animal and implies that animals are here just for our amusement. It entirely contradicts the idea of ‘responsible ownership’ and consideration for the interests of animals.


“The RSPCA and other animal welfare charities work tirelessly to promote responsible pet ownership and help educate people to prevent them falling into common traps such as impulse buying a puppy from an unscrupulous source or buying an exotic animal which have specialist needs and so often make unsuitable pets.


“With animal abandonments soaring and thousands of discarded exotic pets finding themselves in RSPCA care each year, exhibitions like this are certainly not helping with ‘responsible ownership’.


“We are also deeply concerned about copycat events in other shopping centres – especially in the lead up to Christmas. Wild animals such as reindeer and penguins have been used to promote Christmas shopping in previous years in ways that are very likely to lead to their suffering.


We urge anyone considering the idea of using animals in this horribly disrespectful way to think again.”

Find out more about how to care for your pets on our all about animals pages.

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