The Dark Side of Britain

Two weeks ago the Government introduced a new law where future pet owners hoping to buy a dog or cat younger than six months old will only be able to do so through either a licensed breeder or rescue centre. Pet shops and other such commercial dealers will now be prohibited from selling puppies and kittens under this age, with the hope that this change will wipe out illegal puppy farming.

UNILAD is proud to have been a part of this change, by helping to amplify one woman’s message that grabbed people’s attention and made them take a stand. As a result Government proposals have now gone out to consultation, in a brilliant step forward to ensure the accountability of breeders and safety of their animals.

So with people fighting for the rights of animals all the time, how did one person’s voice and frustrations get heard in a sea of billions?

What is Lucy’s Law?

When Lucy the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was rescued from a puppy farm, she had spent many years in a small cage used for breeding purposes. Unknown to her owner Lisa, Lucy had given birth to litter after litter of pups, that were then sold at the young (and illegal) age of 6 weeks old. Due to the cruelty and cramped living surroundings Lucy had suffered, she developed irreversible health complications, leading to a curved spine, bald patches and epilepsy, a common problem that is found through illegal puppy farms.

After Lucy’s death in 2016, only 3 years after being rescued, her owner Lisa took to social media and petitioned to set up Lucy’s Law in order to protect future pets from the cruelty hidden behind the doors of misleading puppy farmers.

After hearing the story behind #LucysLaw, we decided to look into the issues further, uncovering the tricks and techniques used to mislead ordinary people into buying their next pet.

In our “The Dark Side of Britain” feature-length docu-series, a first of its kind for UNILAD, we investigate and uncover a number of serious issues that the country is currently facing, that we feel our audience want and need to hear about. Meeting the individuals that have been affected by these issues, we also speak to those who think they have the answers to solve them once and for all. From knife crime to anxiety and Xanax abuse, throughout the series we remain on the ground and at the forefront of what’s happening, approaching these different topics in way that communicates clearly with the social generation. Working closely with people from both sides of the argument, our series addresses what both professionals and campaigners see and what is wrong with their current climate.

Back in May, we released our second episode of the series, “Puppy Farming’’, exploring the ever growing issue of the illegal puppy farming trade, inspired by Lucy’s Law. Back then, puppy farming trade had increased by 75% in the last year, with an estimated 400,000 farmed puppies being sold to British buyers. Many were bought online and sadly, without buyers realising, 20% of these puppies would be destined to die within the first 6 months. In our episode addressing the issue and its surrounding laws, we followed a group of Lucy’s Law campaigners pushing for a ban on third-party puppy sales through pet shops and dealers, ultimately hoping to give all dogs a legitimate chance of having a better and longer life by abolishing the cruelty inflicted during illegal breeding.

With every campaign, its execution is essential for its success. Communication around campaigns always leads UNILAD to collaborate strongly between our editorial, social and video teams, creating a plan that will allow our progressive message to reach millions of people. Once live, our “The Dark Side of Britain: Puppy Farming” documentary was tailored to fit each of our individual social platforms, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for our ever-growing audience to witness the conditions involved when buying a farmed pet.

Using the reach of our platforms, we asked people to sign a petition that would request the Government to re-address its current law surrounding the animal cruelty inflicted during breeding, and with the joint support of influencers, activists, MP’s and professionals, we gained close to 150,000 signatures for Lucy’s Law. Finishing the campaign with a buzz around social media and enough signatures for the issue to be discussed in parliament, the Government addressed the truths we unearthed in our campaign, recognising (and even mentioning) UNILAD as being one of the main campaigners of the issue in the Parliament discussion of the issue.


Ewelina Piątek “I have no words … I just hope that tomorrow the government will find the essence of existence for these poor puppies 😔… and make the right decision .. how could that even be true? I’m so angry! Petition signed ..”

Desiree Beban “That figure is a disgrace! It should be zero. If buyers saw these co editions and the state of the mother dogs they would be horrified. Pounds are full of unwanted dogs and not just mutts, who by the way have very little health issues and are just as loving. RESCUE DON’T BUY FROM PUPPY FARMS (Factories)”

Vanessa Holburn “Fantastic work – hoping the 4.30pm debate in Westminster Hall today proves to DEFRA that everyone is behind #LucysLaw.”

Through campaigning and highlighting the truth behind puppy farming, on August 22nd, a new law was finally passed to give farmed animals, that began life as a monetary object, a better start through proper trade procedures being put in place. A great step in improving welfare standards, the passion that laid behind our “Puppy Farming” documentary project shows how our objective to unearth secrets and fight for causes, like Lucy’s Law, really does make a difference. We recognise that with thousands of voices wanting to be heard by the likes of campaigners, activists and charities, media companies like ourselves hold a responsibility to spread their message. However as many campaigners we spoke to have found out, most mainstream media channels aren’t interested in sharing their story, and if they do, a fair and unbiased argument from both sides are rarely represented. However by allowing these voices to be heard, we were able to engage our audience and deliver content that they wanted to hear, in order to make their own evaluations of the equal messages we presented.

As “The Dark Side of Britain” docu-series continues with subjects such as addiction to Xanax, the rise of knife crime and our newly released documentary on the calamitous drug, Spice, we continue to reach out to our audience and not only ask them to engage, but to join us on our journey of actioning change through spreading these stories. Our audience is a social generation that has never before been more focused on societal issues and with every story uncovered, we educate them to make change for not just themselves but for the future they want to create. We know education and action are the most important objectives when it comes to translating a message, and we hope to continue in joining forces with our 1 billion+ audience to achieve this.

To follow our series on YouTube click here

Kat Jennings

Marketing Executive