Refund for voters of performing dog Matisse

Tue, 18 Aug 2015

We were all wowed by the performance on last year’s Britain’s Got Talent, when Jules O’Dwyer and her dog, Matisse, took to the tag in the final of the talent competition, and won. However, it soon became clear that a dog double was used, and now ITV will be open to pay tens of thousands of pounds in compensation after Ofcom investigated complaints.

The performing dog supposedly walked across a tightrope in the routine of the show’s final, but instead, a doggie double, Chase, performed the trick instead, and this upset a lot of people who had paid 50p to cast their vote for Matisse.

Ofcom received 1,175 complaints about the fact that it was not made apparent that a different dog was used in the performance, and so investigated.

The situation was judged by the Ofcom rule that "Broadcasters must ensure that viewers and listeners are not materially misled about any broadcast competition or voting."

Peter Fincham, ITV boss, admitted that the show could have made it clearer that O’Dwyer was using a stunt double. As a result, people who voted for the performance, which "not only had the potential to mislead, but was likely to have done so," will be eligible for a refund of their 50p voting charge, which will be delivered by cheque.

However, O’Dwyer, although apologetic for the misunderstanding, did say that Matisse, the dog everyone thought had performed the tightrope trick, was afraid of heights. "Why put pressure on the dog when I already have another dog who can perform [the trick] on television?"

As impressive as it is to see animals do amazing tricks on command, and work with people in an entertaining way, we need to be aware of the level of stress that they can be put under and ensure that the animals’ wellbeing always comes first.

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