Apology over ‘offensive’ puppy police advert after Muslim complaints
Muslims have complained over a police advert featuring a puppy sitting in an officer’s hat.
A police force has apologised to Islamic leaders for the “offensive” postcard advertising a new non-emergency telephone number, which shows a six-month-old trainee police dog named Rebel.
The German shepherd puppy has proved hugely popular with the public, hundreds of who have logged on to the force’s website to read his online training diary.
But some Muslims in the Dundee area have reportedly been upset by the image because they consider dogs to be “ritually unclean”, while shopkeepers have refused to display the advert.
Tayside Police have admitted they should have consulted their ‘diversity’ officers before issuing the cards, but critics argued their apology was unnecessary.
Richard Cook, director of the Campaign Against Political Correctness in Scotland, said: “Britain is the greatest dog-loving country in the world.
“In our culture, dogs are a man’s best friend. I don’t think Andrex are likely to be dropping the puppy dog from their adverts and for the police to apologise is ludicrous.”
Rebel has proved a popular recruit for Tayside Police and is about to venture out onto the streets, having just completed his course of inoculations.
He was given his name after visiting St Ninians Primary School in Dundee where pupils put forward hundreds of ideas of what he should be called.
But some Islamic scholars believe that dogs are impure and therefore ‘haraam’ – or forbidden – except for use in hunting or farming, and that it is not hygienic to keep a dog in the house.
They say that the “impurity of dogs is the greatest of animal impurities”, and anyone who touches one must wash the body part that has come into contact with the animal seven times.
Mohammed Asif, a Dundee City councillor who sits on the Tayside Joint Police Board, said the postcards had been raised this week with John Vine, the chief constable.
He said: “My concern was that it is not welcomed by all communities, with the dog on the cards. It was probably a waste of resources going to these communities. The police should have understood.
“Since then the police have explained that it was an oversight on their part and that if they had seen it was going to cause upset they would not have done it.
“People who have shops just will not put up the postcard. But the police have said to me that it was simply an oversight and they did not seek to offend or upset.”
A spokesman for Tayside Police said that Rebel had proved “extremely popular” with children and adults since he joined the force aged six weeks.
He added: “His incredible world-wide popularity – he has attracted record visitor numbers to our website – led us to believe Rebel could play a starring role in the promotion of our non-emergency number.
“However, we did not seek advice from the force’s diversity adviser prior to publishing and distributing the postcards. That was an oversight and we apologise for any offence caused.”