The Back Story
To raise awareness even further in 2016, we have embarked on a different approach. We've been able to use a range of real life case studies from dog owners from all parts of the country who were keen to share their experiences. The campaign is designed to show the actual instances where lungworm has struck, and sadly involves people who wanted to share the consequences of their beloved dogs not being protected.
“This has been a very interesting project. It was inspired by the data from the Interactive Lungworm Map Bayer produced in 2015 allowing us to reach out and find a range of people who had experienced lungworm in some way, shape or form. Using these case studies to their full potential, the idea was to create a documentary-styled piece of content as the centre point of the awareness campaign. There was an element of risk as nothing was scripted and each dog owner was encouraged to tell their story in an open and honest forum.
However, the end result cuts to the truth and shares an incredible mix of experiences and emotions. The objective is to make dog owners act against lungworm and engage in conversation with their vet about the risks.”
Andy Scarth – MBC, Creative Director
Hazel Thompson is an award-winning British photojournalist and filmmaker. In the last decade, she has taken up assignments and campaigns in over 50 countries for media organisations and clients such as The New York Times, Stern Magazine, Channel 4 News, The British Council, Observer Magazine and The Children’s Society to name a few.
Swapping roles for 5 minutes, we interviewed Hazel to get her thoughts...
Why did you want to be involved in the ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ Campaign?
“Firstly, as a dog lover, and having grown up with dogs, I felt it was a very important issue. Lungworm is a horrific disease, so I wanted to get involved.”
What was it about Lungworm and the real stories that caught your attention?
“I am a story teller and for me it’s all about truth and reality. For an awareness campaign people relate to real stories and can empathise, so to me it was important that it was real and honest.”
Considering your background, what was your main contribution to producing this film?
“With my background in journalism and documentary filmmaking, I wanted to bring that authenticity to this TV ad. In terms of the creative process, I approached this in exactly the same way I approach a journalistic story. None of the dog owners knew what I was going to ask them. I created an intimate space where they could share their experience and how they were feeling.”
What surprised you during the making of this film? What was your lasting memory?
“I was quite moved and shocked to hear these very tragic stories. And how deeply it affected all the dog owners. I cover some heavy subjects, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the same emotional density.”
“The effect that lungworm can have on families can be truly devastating, something that we have witnessed first-hand when speaking to owners all across the UK who have experienced the parasite with their dog. Thankfully, we get the pleasure of meeting many dogs who have recovered and now live full and happy lives, but sadly we are often left telling the story of owners who have had to say goodbye. Hearing the passion that these owners have for raising awareness to protect other dogs inspires us to do everything we can to keep the conversation about lungworm going.”
“Having seen multiple cases of lungworm, some fatal, I feel strongly that UK dogs should be protected against the parasite to prevent unnecessary deaths. It is the duty of the veterinary profession to promote responsible pet ownership and to be at the forefront of knowledge on the spread of lungworm.
We know that lungworm is definitely present in the UK, and we are at risk of it becoming more prevalent if vets do not act against it. It is for these reasons that I was happy to be involved with the Be Lungworm Aware campaign, as a platform from which I can help educate pet owners and my peers in the veterinary profession.”
Dr Simon Hayes BVM&S MRCVS – Village Vet, Winchmore Hill, London