YouTuber and presenter Grace Victory has returned to BBC Three with a new documentary, The Cost of Cute: The Darker Side of the Puppy Trade.
The documentary follows Grace as she investigates how the designer dog industry has prompted a rise in the smuggling of sick and underage dogs from European puppy farms to the UK. It has also led to crippling health problems for some of the internet’s favourite breeds. Every day, nearly 200 underage puppies are smuggled into the UK, of which 20% die within six months.
“A lot of puppies that are smuggled into breeding already have health problems, due to the poor conditions they are born and raised in,” Grace explains to TenEighty. “They have various diseases and lack general good health because they rarely spend time with their mother. During transit things often get worse, because of the added stress of travelling. A lot of puppies don’t make even make it into the UK alive.”
A third of all dogs brought into the UK have come from a puppy farm with French bulldogs, pugs, and miniature Dachshunds being the most popular. Grace is hoping to raise awareness of how the rise of the ‘Instagram Dog’ has had a damaging effect on dog breeding.
“I realised I wanted to raise awareness when I was made aware of how bad the issue was,” says Grace. “Any social issue that I feel needs more attention is something I am happy to work on. Luckily BBC Three know the route I want to take and every doc I make gets grittier and grittier.”
In her first documentary, Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets, Grace explored how the internet has allowed anyone to call themselves a nutritionist and promote a diet without proper training.
Grace enjoyed making both documentaries, but adds that they differed in terms of production process. “Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets was a much longer process, at around four or five months, whereas The Cost of Cute: The Darker Side of the Puppy Trade’s filming time was just a few weeks, and there were a wider variety of scenes and locations.”
As a YouTuber, Grace is used to having full control over the editing process. How does it feel to hand over that control when making these documentaries?
“It’s actually easier because I have help from a runner and direction from the crew,” says Grace. “I’m learning from a different perspective, as with YouTube I’m mainly filming myself by myself. But it’s really fascinating to learn and see how other professionals film and execute their video production. With this, I hope to bring new ideas and skills to my own YouTube channel.”
Grace is already in discussions for her third documentary, which she hopes will be about mental health, body image, or underage sex.
The Cost of Cute: The Darker Side of the Puppy Trade is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
Find out more about Grace in TenEighty’s exclusive interview. Alternatively, read about Riyadh Khalaf‘s naked photoshoot with Gay Times to promote body positivity.