Hi Efuryone it me Harry
As yoo all know I is always lookin out fur de next big fing. Well de next best fing, well in fact he is so well known fur his comedy writing pawticularly his genius wurk wiv dat fella oh wot his name errr oh it will come back to me. Anyway he well known fur his writing and appearances in “Phoenix Nights” but wot lots of peeps do not know is he is also a fabulouso animals rights supporter. Who me woofin about? De one de only de stoopendous Dave Spikey. So I has intervood Dave or as I foundly call him Kind Dave and here is his pawsome intervoo. Oh yeah de ofur fella was Peter Kay but not sure who he is……….
Hi Dave fanks fur agreein to takes de time out of yoo busy schedule to be intervood. I see yoo got me pawtographed picfur. Right if yoo sittin comf we gets started……..
Now most people will know yoo as de genius writer yoo are. Wot dey don’t know is de hard wurk yoo do for animal welfare around de wurld. Wot got yoo involved in dis?
Many many years ago two pivotal events occurred which changed my life forever in terms of my attitude to animals and their welfare. My first job was as medical laboratory technician at Bolton Royal Infirmary. The first lab I was assigned to involved animal testing Gonadotrophins on mice and TB on Guinea Pigs. We would inject them with patient samples and after a while kill and dissect them. I only killed the Guinea Pigs on one occasion, I refused after that and narrowly escaped the sack but I could never have done it again, ever – it was too brutal even though it was the recommended method of the Humane Society. A few years later, on my way to work with my wife Kay, we got stuck in a traffic jam right next to a truck full of battery hens crammed into wire cages on their way to slaughter. I know it sounds overly dramatic but I’ll never forget the look in their eyes, almost pleading and full of sadness. Few feathers, sore crippled feet, ragged combs and blood-stained beaks. How on earth can we treat animals like that? There is absolutely no justification if we are to call ourselves civilized.
We were stuck there for half an hour, seeing clearly in graphic detail for possibly for the first time the terrible suffering of these poor creatures and then rather stupidly, for the first time, making the connection between them and our breakfast eggs and roast chicken. And it hit me like a bolt from the blue how wrong it was that a beautiful sentient living creature should have to die, actually suffer incredibly, so that I might enjoy a nice meal that I’d have probably forgotten about the next day.
It is an undeniable fact of life, life on this planet, that All creatures share one basic instinct – Survival. All are entitled to survive and lead as full and happy life as they can and we humans, in our arrogance and ignorance find it acceptable to deny our fellow animals that right.
By the time we got to work we were vegetarian and the natural progression then was to get actively involved in animal welfare. So we started supporting a variety of charities and set up our own mini sanctuary with dogs, cats, ex battery hens, a turkey (Bertie), sheep, goats and ducks . Years later, when my career took off after Phoenix Nights we wound the sanctuary down and didn’t replace the animals that had lived their full and happy life with us and decided that we would instead actively support more animal charities and raise awareness and finances for them . So from every tour segment I donate the box office receipts to two or three of these charities.
Yoo has visited de Moon Bear sanctuaries in Chengdu and Vietnam, wot prompted yoor visit?
Every day I get asked to get involved in some charity or worthy cause. They may want me to be a patron or put on a comedy show or send some signed memorabilia because it is a baffling but true fact that “celebrity” (I hate that word) can be useful in raising funds and awareness in this world. It is incredibly difficult prioritising and actioning all these requests as most are so worthwhile but others you move straight to the top of the pile because they move you so much. This happened when I bumped into someone (I think it was Nikki) from Animals Asia at another animal charity event and she passed on the information about the bear farming in the Far East. I was moved and horrified to see these magnificent creatures still being treated in this way in the 21st century – all in the name of “traditional medicines”. I could think of nothing else for weeks and got actively involved almost straight away.
People who have visited said it was humbling. How would you describe your experience there? What was it like seeing the bears for the first time and feeding them?
Prepare yourself for a long answer to a short question because it was an epic journey
Kay and I traveled to Vietnam and China to see at first hand the amazing work that the Animals Asia charity does. It was a whistle-stop visit with seven flights in six days . (Manchester to Singapore -Singapore Airlines. Singapore to Hanoi – Singapore Airlines, 2 days in Hanoi then Hanoi – Guangzhou (98 point score in Scrabble) with China Southern Airlines , Guangzhou – To Chengdu – China Southern Airlines (bear with me (Bear with me!! – see what I did) , there is a point) , 3 days in Chengdu then Chengdu to Beijing – Air China , Beijing to London Heathrow – Air China , then the last leg – almost home now, been travelling 22 hours , Heathrow to Manchester – British Airways – F****ing CANCELLED!
The visit was incredible. Three words – emotional roller coaster. There were highs but many lows. I sort-of thought that there would be but it was still too upsetting at times. Animals Asia, amongst other projects, is campaigning to stop Bear Farming – please visit www.animalsasia.org for the full horrific details of the prolonged torture and suffering of these magnificent creatures which are farmed for their bile. (I know it’s ludicrous but its traditional medicine) even though there are over fifty homeopathic and synthetic alternatives.
Nothing can prepare you for the sight of the still captive bears we were taken to see in their tiny cages. Their sad, desperate, tortured eyes pleading with you. The self-mutilation , endless pacing and mental suffering that the continued pain and cruel imprisonment has caused. In Vietnam the practice is now illegal but many farms still exist under the guise of tourist cafes and restaurants – “The Black Bear Café” etc… where customers can have a drink and look at the “lovely” bears. This is of course a front and in a dramatic twist of fate we stumbled upon the reality of what actually happens when we returned unannounced to one such café and a coach load of Korean tourists were just leaving after having a cup of tea and then choosing one of the bears for bile extraction. We discovered the bear unconscious, we found bile on an “operating” table together with horrible long needles that had been stabbed into the bear’s gall bladder ! And we filmed the evidence and the panic of the farm owners. We submitted it to the Vietnamese government who said at the time that it is not sufficient to shut down the “café”!!!
On the plus side we visited the new sanctuary in Vietnam which is situated in a beautiful spot inside a national park and will provide a wonderful retirement home for the bears .
The established sanctuary in China is stunning. On 200 acres it has ten bear houses and enclosures and is home to over 200 happy bears – some of which spent the first 10-25 years of their lives in the horrible “crush” cages which are particular to China (Can you possibly imagine that ! 25 years! ) yet these beautiful stoic bears have somehow forgiven us for their awful suffering and you can actually feed one or two by hand through the bars of their luxury compounds!!
One heart-breaking day the vets brought a beautiful big bear called “Fuzzy” into the hospital for his two-year routine health check. I helped clip her paws and took blood from her jugular vein for a full laboratory screen but then during the physical examination we found a mass in his abdomen. The laparotomy revealed a huge liver tumour which had spread to her lymph nodes. Fuzzy never went back to her enclosure, another victim to the liver cancer that is a common legacy of the years of trauma that the liver suffers during the bile extraction by needle, canula or fissure.
My abiding memory however will be a happy one. Seeing the bears free at last , feeding , playing , climbing their platforms , splashing in their pools, foraging for their hidden food and play fighting – many of them with limbs missing – a result of the terrible snare traps that captured them in the wild. There are thousands of them still suffering and I’m dedicated to help this wonderful charity carry on until all of them are free.
Wot ofur animal charities do yoo support?
I’m patron of “Pet Rehome” in Bolton and active supporter of “Paws for Kids” also in Bolton which fosters animals of people trapped in abusive relationships until such time as the victim(s) have been settled in safe accommodation. (Little known fact – Most refuges won’t take pets and so people stay in abusive relationships because they won’t leave their pet at the mercy of the violent abuser)
I actively support “Our Friends” Dog rescue in Romania, Carcassonne Dog Rescue in France and LAPS in Spain.
I donate to Redwings sanctuary , Bleakholt sanctuary and Tiggywinkles animal hospital in Bolton
Do you have any animals of your own?
I have a cat Katie who wandered in from next door and stayed but I can’t commit to any more at present because I’m away from home so much.
Would yoo efur write a comedy show bout a dog? (paws crossed)
I’m thinking of including a dog in my latest project “Mad Jacks” which is set in a country pub. I had an idea that a local farmer had a champion sheepdog that became allergic to wool but its early days !
Pfffft was hopin yoo wud say “yes, and Harry will yoo help us write it and star in it.”
What would yoo say to people out der to encourage dem to support de moon bears and Animals Asia?
Just maybe re-read about my visit above and check out their website www.animalsasia.org Force yourself to watch the videos – some of the inhumane treatment these beautiful creatures suffer and also those many stories with happy outcomes . You’ll find that you have to help in some way
Do yoo has any tips fur me on how to cope wiv my new found fame?
Keep your paws on the ground. Remember where you came from and surround yourself with friends and family who’ll let you know if things start going to your head. A line I wrote for Brian Potter (Peter Kay) in Phoenix Nights – “Remember, the higher a monkey climbs, the more you can see its arse”.
Fanks King Dave yoo de bestest.
So der yoo has it pals wot a totally amazing guy King Dave Spikey is. Don’t furget to check out de amazing Animals Asia and read about dem and wot dey do. Yoo can find Dave on twitter @spikeygo
If yoo has any suggestions fur de next intervoo I shud do den visit www.spanielharry.co.uk and fill in de comment box wiv yoor suggestions.
Wuv yoo all