People buying puppies as if they are fashion accessories like a designer handbag makes my stomach turn
You wouldn't buy a designer handbag in a car park in Magherafelt. So why would you consider it an appropriate place to buy a "designer" dog?
The question arises because, amid the current furore over the appalling cruelty of puppy farms, a local man has come forward to describe how he forked out close to £300 to buy a small dog from a bloke who'd organised to meet him in the aforementioned car park.
The buyer doesn't sound like a bad or callous man. He believed the seller was meeting him halfway - helping him avoid a long journey to pick up the pup.
When he examined the dog he adds, he did notice how tiny it was and that was wet around the chest. The seller said the dog had been travel sick.
The seller also freely admitted that it hadn't actually been checked over by a vet.
When the buyer got it back home, a vet was called who pointed out that actually the wee thing was too young to have been removed from its mother. It was extremely sick and despite the best efforts of its new owners, it sadly died.
The buyer was understandably distressed watching the poor animal's struggle. He admits he cried. His subsequent anger is also hardly surprising.
But you wouldn't buy a supposedly designer handbag in a car park in Magherafelt...
With a handbag it's about making sure you're getting your money's worth. With a dog it's about something far more important. It's about the animal's welfare.
And it goes without saying that someone who is aiming to maximise profits from litters of pups churned out as dispassionately as counterfeit Mulberry totes is unlikely to have the wee creatures' best interests at heart.
Quite rightly this week's outcry against the vile puppy farms (and this is not a new thing) has focused on those who cynically set out to make a killing from the mass production of domestic pets.
But let's not kid ourselves culpability ends there.
This cruel trade is fuelled by the demand from those who are willing to pay good money, big money, for an animal because it fits the "designer" label specifications.
The very concept of "designer dog" is revolting - "designer" any sort of animal.
This year's dog. This season's most fashionable pet. A living creature reduced to status symbol.
The "dog is for life" campaign made everyone aware of the iniquity of buying an animal on impulse.
But buying because you want the cachet of an expensive pet or because you want a fighting dog to make yourself look tough or because you want your dog to be just the latest thing ... all those are pretty dire reasons for dog ownership, too.
A dog isn't an extension of us. It's a living being. Not a commodity. Not a fashion accessory.
The puppy farmers when they are caught, deserve all they get. Or - as the law stands now - don't get.
More power to those local campaigners (primarily Northern Ireland Says No to Animal Cruelty) who are currently campaigning for tougher laws here.
But all of us also need to take a long hard look at our own attitude to animals. From a buyer's point of view the first, the most obvious step is making damn sure you know where the pup came from and how it has been treated.
It goes further than that though. True, many, many breeders are decent, kindly dog lovers. But the whole concept of turning out designer dogs, "fashionable" cross breeds, dogs with enhanced characteristics that make them photogenic and cute...
All that is stomach turning.
As for the "puppy farms", the very phrase almost makes them sound wholesome. They're puppy factories. Puppy production plants.
And we do all this, we allow all this to be done, to the animal we have the effrontery to call our best friend?
Why are these posters still hanging around?
The last election posters of spring... there are a few still up there, out there.
Surprisingly some of the last still to be removed — the ones I’ve seen anyway — include posters for a Green candidate. Oops.
But in fairness, the Greens are not the only guilty party. Alliance posters are among the others still hanging around.
Particularly striking is their “Forward. Faster.” poster.
Surely Forward Faster should have come down faster.
Like it or not Jimmy’s talent is no secret
The television adaptation of The Secret has stirred much controversy.
But agree or disagree with the question of whether the show should ever have been made in the first place, the series has highlighted a much less contentious point ... the outstanding acting ability of James Nesbitt.
And who knew Jimmy was such a great singer? He belts out the gospel classics like a pro. A great voice.
A totally believable performance.