Update Lyst has sent out a press release, which we quote it in full at the end of this article, with no other edits to our original article which was written this morning.
Lyst, the fashion shop platform site has introduced the canine collection where you can 'pre-order' adorable dogs to match that designer outfit you're buying. They're not exactly cheap dogs, but then they are the best quality and pure-bred and come in all sizes. And if you think everyone went crazy when they announced this on twitter, well, you're right. Lyst are tweeting happy customers receiving their dogs, and have pinned a response from the RSPCA on their top tweet. Meanwhile the outrage is going twitter-viral.
We've had an incredible response so far, we're running very low on French Bulldogs to be sure to order now or never! pic.twitter.com/m1PkHGbrVy
— Lyst (@lyst) May 9, 2016
— Felicity Fitzpatrick (@FelicityFitz) May 9, 2016
@lyst Hi, we'd appreciate a response to our email, FB post and request to DM. We need to talk!
— RSPCA (@RSPCA_official) May 9, 2016
Attempting to order a canine from Lyst just sends you to a mailto button which mails firstname.lastname@example.org - we've emailed it and there's no auto-reply on the account. Lyst may simple be holding out for the punchline. Like Puppy Swap Canada 'The world’s first puppy subscription service', this is a hoax designed to make you react and then care ... about the puppies. At least I hope that's the plan, as created by Christian Woolfenden, a new hire who used to work on the Paddy Power ads, and he is no stranger to stirring up outrage PR for marketing stunts. To add to the hubub, RSPCA haven't been able to make contact with Lyst yet - or so they say in every interview about this so far, which means the press is going to those who care about dogs. Just like in the Puppyswap case.
A spokeswoman told MirrorOnline:
"Whether this is real or just a publicity stunt by Lyst it sends out an extremely worrying message to people who are looking to get a new canine companion.
"It is important to remember that dogs are not a fashion accessories or throwaway commodities and the RSPCA has concerns about anything which might lead people to see them as replaceable ornaments, rather than intelligent, living creatures which need long-term care and commitment.
"We have tried to make contact with Lyst to discuss with them the implications a stunt like this might have.
"The RSPCA has had an influx of fashionable dog breeds and ‘designer’ crossbreeds arriving at its national centres and this worrying trend sadly reflects the increasing demand for specific breeds and the resulting spike in underground puppy farming and dealing too.
"We would always urge members of the public who are looking to get a dog to consider rehoming one of the thousands of dogs at rescue centres up and down the country first, and if they are considering buying a puppy, to do lots of research to make sure they choose a happy, healthy dog which is right for their family and lifestyle, rather than choosing based solely on appearance.
"We urge anyone considering buying a puppy to use the Puppy Contract, which has been developed by the RSPCA in partnership with the Animal Welfare Foundation and endorsed by the PDSA, Dogs Trust and a number of dog welfare charities.
"This contract gives puppy buyers and the puppies themselves the protection they need to ensure the best chance of a happy, healthy puppy, and ensures buyers are not unknowingly lining the pockets of puppy traders."
Update This is the press release that Lyst has sent out this evening. "Fashion Shopping site Lyst has revealed that customers won't actually be purchase live puppies and dogs as part of the site's accessory offer. As suspected by some visitors to the site, this week's controversial Canine Collection launch was in fact a hoax, aimed at sparking debate around the worrying trend for 'handbag' dogs. Following statistics released by UK pet Charity Blue Cross, Lyst's stunt comes in response to the increasing number of 'fashionable' dogs being dumped by owners. According to Blue Cross, the number of small 'handbag' dogs and puppies needing to be rehomed has increased 120 per cent in the last five years, with toy dog breeds in particular being given up in record numbers. The campaign provoked outraged responses from dog lovers globally; more than 5 million people saw Lyst's twitter posts in a 24 hour period, nearly all of them expressing anger at the pages. The RSPCA's tweet in response received the highest ever engagement from their account. Christian Woofended, Cheif Marketing Officer for Lyst.com said "A dog is for life, not just for Instagram. We're positively overwhelmed by the number of people talking about this important issue, and hope that it goes some way towards helping Blue Cross with their vital work in this space" The Updated canine collection is now live at https://www.lyst.com/shop/dogs"