Work and Pensions secretary James Purnell has today announced new plans to tackle rising jobless figures by replacing working dogs with the long term unemployed.
Thousands of dogs are currently employed in the UK in occupations as varied as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, police dogs, drug sniffer dogs and sheep dogs. ‘These are all jobs that could easily be done by men and women currently out of work, if they were given the right training,’ claimed Purnell.
The move has already proved to be popular with the public. ‘These mutts are in our country taking all our jobs,’ said one man outside Dagenham Job Centre. ‘My mate went for a job as a sheep-bloke but they gave it to some Border Collie who was willing to work for a Bonio and can of Pedigree Chum. How can we compete against that? It’s about time someone did something about it.’
The Conservatives have however criticized the proposals, saying ‘This isn’t going to solve unemployment. Dogs will be unemployed instead. The Government should stop trying to fiddle the figures and include dogs from the unemployed total.’
A pilot scheme to train humans to do traditional canine tasks has already been trialled in Scotland. In Glasgow blind people can be seen being led by young trainees wearing day-glo jackets and harnesses, although there have been reports of some problems. One so called ‘Guide Bloke’ waited to cross the road and then shouted ‘Now, if we’re quick!’ tugging his master between the speeding cars, weaving between the lanes and then clambering over the barrier in the middle of the central reservation.
Another trainee Hugh Brown explained how he had been taught how to sniff passengers at Glasgow airport to see if they were carrying drugs. ‘I can’t tell the difference between cannabis and cheese and onion crisps at the moment but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it,’ he said. ‘Mind you, when my handlers did finally find some cocaine, I had a really good sniff. To be honest the rest of the day is a bit of a blur…’