A new 'dog-napping' storyline in ITV's soap opera Emmerdale has angered many dog-loving fans and led to a barrage of complaints on social media.
Some said the storyline was "trivialising" the serious issue of dog theft, as two of the soap's characters plotted to steal a Samoyed dog. The episode, which aired Monday (26 September 2016), showed Charity Dingle and Ross Barton discussing how they could make money from stealing a pedigree dog.
At one point, Ross, played by Michael Parr, said, "You've no idea how much money can be made from some of these rat-faced pedigree things."
He also guesses that a Samoyed could cost "£7,000", causing some worried viewers to complain that it will put ideas in criminals' heads.
Among the comments on Emmerdale's Facebook page, one viewer wrote, "This storyline should not be allowed, people whose dogs are missing are going through hell and it's definitely not entertainment!"
Another wrote, "I walk 3 Samoyeds every night, dont feel safe now that you have advertised them at £21,000. How stupid of you to think this is a good storyline I am disgusted!!"
On Twitter, one viewer said, "@emmerdale advertising that there is money to be made from stealing people's beloved pets. Well done Emmerdale. You have outraged thousand!"
@emmerdale advertising that there is money to be made from stealing peoples beloved pets. Well done Emmerdale. You have outraged thousands!
— Michelle (@Flosseyellen) September 26, 2016
DogLost, who aim to reunite dogs with their owners, made this statement:
"Whilst DogLost would encourage raising the awareness of dog theft through the serious and sensitive inclusion of the subject in a drama, it cannot condone its trivialisation in a current story line in Emmerdale.
Thousands of dogs a year are stolen in the UK and DogLost works hard to support owners subjected to this crime. We work closely with police forces up and down the country and are campaigning with the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance for tougher sentencing.
DogLost has made representations to the executive producer at Emmerdale asking for the story line to be amended with an appropriate outcome.
In response to the comments, an ITV spokesperson said:
"Charity and Ross are well established as characters who are capable of illegal and sometimes downright evil acts.
"As the programme makes very clear, their plan to steal a dog is both ill judged and criminal and it will plainly be seen to backfire on them."
Photo credit: ITV