As far back as I can remember I always wanted to become a veterinarian. At just three years old, I carefully removed a maggot from a wound on my pet tortoise’s leg using a twig; over the weeks and months that followed, I watched my first ever patient get better. Back then, being a complete science nerd, I was only aware of politics on the news, or Spitting Image on Sunday nights.
Now onto the path of how wanting to become a vet turned into reality
What that thing was, I wasn’t exactly sure, but after discovering those dying pups were sold locally, without their mum, by a legal third-party dealer buying them in from a legal Welsh puppy farm; I imagined if anyone looking for a puppy either visited the breeder and saw the pup interacting with their mum, or chose rescue, there’d be no need for third-party dealers. By default, all breeders would then be accountable.
During those times I was also a TV vet on Paul O’Grady Show, BBC Breakfast and ITV’s This Morning, so I approached a few media contacts to help with my first campaigning idea to raise awareness and change public behaviour. Celebrity-judged fun dog show called Pup Aid (after Live Aid) was born, taking place first in Brighton, then in London to be nearer to more high-profile celebs. Over the years Pup Aid attracted thousands of dog owners and well known animal lovers including Ricky Gervais.
As well as Pup Aid, I also created the self-explanatory #wheresmum campaign and although these campaigns engaged mainstream media, reaching more prospective dog owners, it still wasn’t nearly enough. Brighton’s Green MP Caroline Lucas invited me to Westminster to discuss my mission to ban third party puppy dealers. What followed was over six years of weekly meetings with other MPs, ministers, debates, petitions, select committees and receptions. We were trying every tool available to climb the political ladder and reach my goal.
Eventually, my tiny coalition of grassroots campaigners managed to overcome all obstructions and changed the law to ban third party puppy (and kitten) dealers, known as ‘Lucy’s Law’; named after a beautiful, brave Cavalier King Charles Spaniel rescued from a Welsh puppy farm.
These days, as well as proudly being part of the Mewes Vets team, I also run the All-Party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group (APDAWG), organising and chairing meetings looking into important topics such as greyhound racing, animal abuse and domestic violence, XL Bullies and UK rescue sector. APDAWG always fills the biggest rooms in the Palace of Westminster, with dog lovers and engaged parliamentarians who are all keen to make progress on these issues.
Admittedly, Westminster’s become a second home to me, which is odd considering I used to feel zero connection, but knowing how mechanisms, processes and levers work to make stuff happen, I find it fascinating. From hundreds of meetings to sourcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s rescue pup Dylan, co-hosting a garden party at No.10 to giving an impromptu speech outside the famous front door; these aren’t the experiences of a regular vet, but I feel privileged to be a part of this other culture, where I can use my campaigning skills to help protect society’s most vulnerable, which includes animals.
Underpinning everything I have done since fixing my pet tortoise’s leg, which is caring about animals; plus, actively campaigning against injustice, cruelty, exploitation and abuse. Working at independent Mewes Vets in Rottingdean also means giving friendly, honest advice, as well as providing the best, most affordable care that doesn’t put owners off seeking help for their pets.
Sussex is an inspirational place for animal lovers and I’ve also now campaigned alongside South Downs, Brighton Palace Pier and even my beloved Brighton & Hove Albion, as well as visiting local schools to chat with pupils about caring for animals and each other, plus a monthly advice slot on BBC Sussex and documentary ‘Dogspiracy’ coming out in Spring. Recently, I was honoured to receive the OBE for Services to Animal Welfare by King Charles III, dedicating it to my late Grandma Judy who escaped the Holocaust and taught me to “Never give up!”
For more info about Dr Marc Abraham OBE, or ‘Marc the Vet’ as he’s usually known, visit www.marcthevet.net.