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Clare Balding calls for ‘test’ for people wanting to buy a dog

Presenter and author was speaking at an event at Henley Literary Festival 2023, in which she also called out unethical breeders

Louis Chilton
Sunday 08 October 2023 17:49 BST
Clare Balding makes accidental double-entendre after referring to Olympic swimmers 'third leg'

Clare Balding called for a “test” for anyone attempting to buy a dog, in a bid to stop people “feeding illegal markets”.

The TV presenter and author of the recent book Isle of Dogs: A Canine Adventure through Britain was speaking at Henley Literary Festival 2023, the annual event held in Henley-upon-Thames, Oxfordshire. The Independent is the exclusive news partner for the festival this year.

Addressing the crowd, Balding complained of the lack of regulation surrounding dog ownership – and unethical profit-driven breeders who sell the animals without sufficient scrutiny of buyers.

“I do think we need more regulation – we need more understanding of who is owning dogs,” she said. “And I do very much approve of a basic test.

“Because there’s this ever-growing market that doesn’t care, that just wants the money. That’s where legislation has to come in to block that, that channel being so easy. I don’t know whether it’s a case of, if you’re selling a dog, you have to have a license or if you’re buying a dog, you have to have a license. I’m not sure which is the better solution.”

Balding looked at some of the unethical practices surrounding dog ownership in the new Channel 5 series Live: Lost Dogs with Clare Balding.

“We have an awful lot of people who don’t necessarily know how to deal with dogs that might be frustrated or lacking in stimulation, people who basically don’t understand what owning a dog means. They may unfortunately have clicked a button and bought what they thought was a teddy bear,” she explained to the Henley audience.

“And I say that genuinely. If you are clicking a button to buy a dog, you are feeding an illegal market,” she added. “You are not understanding the responsibility of dog ownership.”

In the talk, Balding also discussed some of her most famous broadcasting gaffes, including when she asked relay swimmer Matthew Richards about his “phenomenal third leg”.

Elsewhere at Henley this weekend, Little Britain star and children’s author David Walliams revealed that he had recently been locked up by Italian police, and “real-life Top Gun” fighter pilot Nathan Gray open up about losing his decorated instructor in a tragic 2002 accident.

Good Morning Britain star Rob Rinder offered his thoughts on the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing, and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author Louis de Bernieres offered his impression of Nicolas Cage’s experience on the 2002 film adaptation. Tennis coach and thriller novelist Judy Murray, meanwhile, rallied against the “elitist image” of the tennis system.

Henley Literary Festival continues until 8 October.

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