For the Love of Dogs star Paul O'Grady MBE has written to the Lord Mayor of London asking her to put a stop to the archaic and dangerous tradition of herding sheep across London Bridge.
In his letter, the comedian, presenter, actor and writer calls on Fiona Woolf to drop the stunt and switch to a more compassionate form of fundraising that would not cause distress to animals.
“I am writing to express my deep concern about the sheep who will be herded across London Bridge in a bid to raise money on 5 October, and I wanted to urge you, as the leader of the council, to replace this spectacle with another form of fundraising,” he wrote. "I understand that as Lord Mayor of the City of London, you are historically entitled to the Freedom of the City, a privilege that theoretically affords you the right to carry a naked sword in public, in addition to other equally archaic practices. I am sure that you will agree that these “rights” should not be exercised simply because they can be exercised.
“I hope you will agree that sheep are not inanimate props. As someone who has had the pleasure of sharing my home with these wonderful animals, I can tell you that sheep are intelligent and complex individuals. They flock to keep safe from predators. If threatened, they all run together for a short distance and then turn to face the danger as a group. Just like humans, dogs, chickens and most other animals, sheep make different sounds to communicate different emotions, and flock mates recognise each other, even if they’ve been separated for years.
“Herding sheep down a very busy London street while cars continue to speed along the road next to them shows a disregard for their welfare and needlessly causes them distress. I have no doubt that you would be able to match, if not exceed, the donations that the previous Lord Mayor received by promoting an event without the use of any animals, and compassionate Londoners would thank you for it.”
Sheep are sentient, intelligent and complex animals. A University of Illinois study found that they perform nearly as well as pigs on IQ tests and have demonstrated problem-solving abilities.