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Tag: bbc

Remembering Pickles, the dog who, 50 years ago, sniffed out the missing World Cup

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When soccer’s World Cup was stolen from a display case in London in 1966, the week that followed saw huge tabloid headlines, a ransom demand, threats to melt the trophy down and a botched undercover police operation to exchange a bag of fake money for the treasured hunk of gold.

It wasn’t until seven days after the theft that the trophy the best minds of Scotland Yard were unable to find was easily sniffed out by a re-homed, furniture-chewing mutt named Pickles.

England was hosting the World Cup that year, and ended up winning it, but if not for Pickles there might have been no trophy to hoist.

Pickles was a four-year-old border collie mix whose owner, Dave Corbett, had taken him in as a puppy when his brother could no longer put up with his habit of chewing up furniture.

The cup had been on display in central London, and supposedly was being heavily guarded when it was stolen in the months leading up to the tournament.

Police made the case a high priority, but were still stumbling by the time Pickles, out for a walk, sniffed out the Jules Rimet Trophy in a clump of shrubs. That was 50 years ago yesterday.

“I put the lead on Pickles and he went over to the neighbor’s car,” Corbett recalled in this recent interview with the BBC.

“Pickles drew my attention to a package, tightly bound in newspaper, lying by the front wheel. I picked it up and tore some paper and saw a woman holding a dish over her head, and disks with the words Germany, Uruguay, Brazil. I rushed inside to my wife. She was one of those anti-sport wives. But I said, ‘I’ve found the World Cup! I’ve found the World Cup!'”

Corbett duly rushed the cup to the police station, and immediately became a suspect.

Two days earlier, the police investigation had taken a turn for the worse, according to The Guardian.

A man calling himself Jackson had contacted league officials about how they might reclaim the trophy for £15,000.

An undercover officer was sent to meet Jackson and make the exchange, but Jackson became suspicious it was a set up and fled.

He was caught, but the trophy was not.

Jackson’s real name was Edward Betchley, a small-time thief, and he would only admit to being a middleman.

He refused to disclose the location of the trophy.

cupTwo days later Pickles found it.

Once police became assured Corbett had no part in the theft, he would get the reward money for the trophy, and Pickles became a celebrity. He starred in a feature film, appeared on numerous TV shows and was proclaimed Dog of the Year.

After England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany in the World Cup final, Corbett and Pickles were invited to a party celebrating the victory.

The World Cup trophy would be stolen again in 1983 in Brazil, and never recovered.

Pickles died the year after his big find. He saw a cat and took off, his leash trailing behind him. Somehow it got tangled on a tree limb and the dog choked to death.

Corbett buried him in the garden behind his house in Surrey — the house that, thanks to Pickles, he was able to buy with the reward money.

Beloved BBC dog Mabel passes away

After 14 years on the world’s longest running children program, Mabel, a border collie mix, has died.

Seen by millions of children on “Blue Peter,” Mabel was the BBC program’s first rescue dog.

“She was dearly loved and that’s a credit to her quirky character. She’ll be sorely missed by the presenters and viewers alike,” said Helen Skelton, one of the program’s co-hosts.

Mabel, who retired last year, was the second-longest serving dog on the show. Another, named Petra, appeared on the show for 15 years.

Her death came barely a month after the death of her canine co-star Lucy, according to the Daily Mail.

Mabel was originally featured on the program in 1996 when then presenter Katy Hill met her while making a film about the RSPCA. She joined the show a month later. Her name came from the letters MAB1 which were written on her RSPCA kennel.

Mabel, who was thought to be 16, was notable for her different colored eyes – one brown, one blue – and a folded-over ear. She starred alongside 14 different presenters in hundreds of studio shows.

After retirement, she lived with a former member of the show’s production team

The BBC show’s presenters announced the news about the border collie to viewers last night.

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed” gets first U.S. airing

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed, ” the controversial BBC documentary that shed some much needed light on purebred breeding practices and the horrors they have produced, will get its first airing in the U.S. tonight (Dec. 10).

Probably the single most important piece of dog reporting in the past decade, the documentary led to the BBC dropping its coverage of Crufts, the UK’s equivalent of the Westminster Dog Show.

The documentary looks at how many breeds have had their physical appearance so exaggerated they’re unrecognizable from a century ago, and it examines some of the breed-specific health problems that have resulted from breeders emphasizing looks over health when breeding dogs for shows.

The show, which led to some changes in Kennel Club and breeder policies and practices,  airs at 8 p.m. tonight on BBC America.

The documentary revealed that dogs suffering from genetic illness are not prevented from competing in dog shows and have gone on to win “best in breed”, despite their poor health. It says physical traits required by the Kennel Club’s breed standards in the U.K., such as short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails and dwarfism, have led to inherent health problems.

This excerpt from the program shows a prize-winning cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from syringomyelia, a condition which occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain.

The documentary looks at other problems that have resulted from mating dogs who are close relatives, all for the purposes of accentuating certain physical features deemed desirable by the dog show crowd — boxers suffering from epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs who are unable to mate or give birth unassisted because their heads are so big.

While picked up here and there by the U.S. media, the story of shaping purebred dogs to fit arbitrary human standards of beauty — despite the health ramifications — remains best told by the BBC documentary. By all means, watch it.

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed” deemed mostly fair

Ofcom — the UK’s equivalent to our FCC — has ruled that the controversial BBC documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” was mostly fair, but didn’t give Kennel Club officials a chance to fully respond to all of the allegations it made.

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” which is receiving its first U.S. airing tonight, alleged that events such as the Crufts dog show awarded top prizes to unhealthy and inbred animals and encouraged breeders to place appearance above health concerns.

The Ofcom ruling was in response to complaints by the Kennel Club, according to The Guardian.

Ofcom said that the way the film was edited was fair and that the Kennel Club was not, as it claimed, deceived about its purpose.” However, it added, the Kennel Club was “not given a proper opportunity to respond to an allegation about eugenics and a comparison with Hitler and the Nazi Party, or an allegation that it covered up the nature of an operation carried out on a Crufts Best in Show winner”.

The Kennel Club made complaints about the program in five areas. Ofcom — here’s the full ruling — rejected complaints in four of these areas stating that there was “no unfairness.”

Only the Kennel Club’s fifth complaint was deemed somewhat valid. The Kennel Club said it was not given an appropriate opportunity to respond to 15 specific allegations, and Ofcom agreed that was in the case for four of the 15.

In one of those, Jeff Sampson, the Kennel Club’s senior scientific adviser and spokesman, “was not given the chance to show how seriously he took the health problems confronting pedigree dogs,” Ofcom said.

The BBC said it stood by the program. “While we note Ofcom’s findings regarding some aspects of Pedigree Dogs Exposed, we stand firmly by the programme, which was clearly in the public interest, and we stand firmly by its conclusions,” said a spokesman for the BBC.

“The broadcast has accelerated unprecedented reform in the way pedigree dogs are bred, including new limits on inbreeding, changes to the written standards of 78 breeds of dog and a new code of ethics which prohibits the culling of puppies for cosmetic reasons,” he added.

Three convicted in England dogfighting case

Three people have been convicted for their roles in one of Europe’s largest dog-fighting syndicates — offenses brought to light by a BBC program called “Panorama.”

Claire Parker, 44, from Lincolnshire, Mohammed Farooq, 33, from Birmingham, and a 17-year-old boy were convicted at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court, the BBC reported.

The RSPCA said it was one of the biggest cases of dog-fighting it had prosecuted. Read more »

Trial opens in Britain for accused dogfighters

rspcadogGrisly testimony was heard yesterday in the trial of a woman accused of being a member of one of England’s biggest dog fighting gangs.

 The case was brought against Claire Parker by the Royal SPCA after Steve Ibinson, an undercover investigator, infiltrated a dog fighting gang called the Farmer Boys in Northern Ireland for a BBC Panorama program.

The busted dogfighting ring had links to Northern Irish paramilitary organizations, according to the Times of London.

Parker, a 44-old breeder of Boston terriers, denies being present at a dog fight, using her property for fights and owning three pit bulls.

Parker is on trial with 33-year-old Mohammed Nasir Farooq,  who it is claimed acted as the “time keeper” during the Lincolnshire fight in May 2007.

At the opening of what’s expected to be a two-week trial, the Lincoln Magistrates Court heard how some of the gang made the dogs train on treadmills and in swim tanks, used lunge poles with dummies hanging on them, electrocuted dogs, and used “rape harnesses” to force female dogs to mate.

RSPCA raids also uncovered weighing scales, ’break sticks’ for parting the animals once their jaws had locked on to each other and veterinary products to treat wounded animals.

Ibinson, a former SAS operative who had lived in fear of his life following the investigation, uncovered links between the gang and dog fighting fanatics across the United Kingdom. His identity was revealed after his death, from natural causes, earlier this year while serving as a security guard in Afghanistan.

Statements he made are being given as part of a case that has seen five people from across the North of England already admit various dog fighting offenses.

In a secretly recorded video, Gary Adamson, a 38-year-old welder, is shown standing next to three reinforced pens in his yard boasting about how his pit bull, Pablo, suffered a “real good ragging” during a 26-minute fight held in the garage of  Parker’s home in Lincolnshire.

In his statement, Ibinson said that Adamson was a representative of the Farmers Boys, from County Armagh, and aspired to be for pit bull fighting what Don King was for boxing.

(Photo: Courtesy of the RSPCA)

Bad taste: Poop poster proving effective

kidandpoopRepulsive as they are, posters showing a small girl consuming a brown substance while seated in the grass next to a pile of dog poop seem to be working, according to officials in Torbay, England.

Torbay Council launched the controversial campaign at the end of April, according to the BBC.

Since then, the amount of dog waste not cleaned up has dropped by half

That’s according to Councillor Dave Butt — (please hold your sophomoric giggling until the end of the story) — a cabinet member for community services. He said there were more than 400 “incidents” in April, but only 185 in June. (Apparently Torbay conducts a monthly census of dog droppings.)

Butt said there had been no complaints about the posters, which are six feet high and contain an image in which a young child at a playground appears to be eating dog feces

The posters were displayed in local bus shelters and dog mess offenders were warned about the penalty which is a fine of up to £1,000.

Butt told BBC News: “The poster was rather unpleasant, but helped drive the message home very forcibly. “We did not have any complaints, but we did have people ringing us to say it was about time and they were pleased we went in so hard.”

Plans call for campaign to continue, with the message being spread to schools and community groups.

“We are not against dog owners, we are against people that ignore safety and health issues,” Butt said.

Torbay, a popular tourist destination, is located on the Lyme Bay in western England in an area known as the English Riviera.