matisse-stunt-double-mainI don’t watch BGT, I find a lot of it cruel and uncomfortable.  I couldn’t ignore the winner this year as it hasn’t been out of the papers.Jules O’Dwyer and her dogs won BGT but were billed as “Jules and Matisse”. Does this win really justify death threats and over 1000 complaints to Ofcom?  Petitions to rob them of the title? It’s just a dog doing tricks on TV isn’t it?  Some people think not.

Anything that encourages people without dogs to discuss dogs is a good thing in my book.  My local pub drinking buddies have been fascinated by this story and polarised as to whether the complaints are justified or pointless.   I’ve also heard from quite a few people that they think that humans and animals should compete in separate shows.

As I see it, the mistake was in naming the act “Jules and Matisse” and not mentioning the other dogs.  Especially when this winning routine featured a main trick not performed by Matisse, but set up to look like he did it. I’ve seen comments about how both dogs were seen in the semi final, but I didn’t see that and neither did a lot of the people who voted.

The usual sad twitter trolls, who simply jump on every story and post drivel designed to offend have made death threats.  Twitter do need to act faster to remove idiots on there. Jules O’Dwyer  also has a lot of support, but it’s being lost in the endless threats and complaints and bad publicity.

In general, professionals in the dog industry feel this was just a display of training talent and the name of the act and the dog switch was irrelevant, but pet owners feel cheated. 1000 complaints to Ofcom can’t be ignored, this is a show where people pay to vote.

Some interesting comparisons have been made.  What if a singer was subsequently discovered to have mimed matissejulespart of the act?    Or mimed to someone else’s voice? (Remember Milli Vanilli?) What if a dancer danced into the wings, someone else came on to do an intricate bit, danced off and the first dancer finished the routine?  I think if those things ever happened, there would be a justifiable outcry.  However this is a dog routine.  Is it simply showcasing the amazing tricks dogs can learn, the talent of the trainer?  Or is it an emotional audience engagement, voting for one cleverly trained dog?

Perhaps the most ridiculous comparison is now being made by some tabloids.  In March, an Irish Setter, living in Belgium, died on his way home from Crufts from poisoning.  At the time the owners blamed Crufts competitors, visitors, the Kennel Club and insisted it could only have happened at the show.  In fact, testing showed that sadly the dog was poisoned in Belgium, on his way home. Newspapers are now linking these stories as Matisse lives in Belgium and suggesting he is now at risk of poisoning.  As death threats are being made, probably from the usual friendless saddos, Jules must be worried.

Personally I think the animal acts should probably be in their own show, competing only against each other. Death threats are not an acceptable way of treating someone, but where paid voting is used to decide a winner, there has to be accountability.

Simon Cowell appears to have thrown his production team under the bus, admitting a mistake, but blaming them. I can understand if someone voted and hadn’t realised the dogs were switched, they might feel cheated.  Enough to demand the winner is stripped of the title? Enough to demand a refund of their voting money?

I await the Ofcom decision, I’d guess nothing will happen, but I’d hope it affects the future acts and their descriptions.  I predict BGT will be back!

About Safepets UK

Expert Witness behaviourist assessing dogs for court, treating cats and dogs. Covering Midlands to London and other areas.

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