''A dog is for life," the advert proclaims, "not just for Christmas." How about a dog's fur - or even a cat's? Because that is exactly what thousands of Brits will be buying their loved ones this Christmas, and almost none of them will realise . . .
Because of a customs classification loophole, thousands of mislabelled furs are making their way into the UK from China. There our furry friends are kept in refrigerators to thicken their fur, before being pierced with a metal rod and hung up by the neck as the blood drips from their agonised bodies; all this to ensure their pelt is in pristine condition to be worn by some insecure fashion diva who's so unhappy in her own skin that she has to wear a dog's (even though she thinks it's mink, sable, fox or rabbit).
Our western psyche prides itself on its deeply ingrained love of animals. Elvis Presley's song to his old dog Shep continues to reduce people to tears; and generations of children have asked: "How much is that doggy in the window, the one with the waggly tail?" We love tales of the loyal friend saving a drowning child or an injured man, or soothing a heartbroken wife.
Promoting the wearing of fur is just as sick as buying it. Women's magazines editors are all telling us that fur is back in fashion - so they can be held personally responsible for the slaughter of thousands of animals, alongside the hypocritical supermodels Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell, who all promoted the Peta "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign in the early 1990s, only to join the long list of turncoats.
Much of December has sadly been spent discussing with lawyers whether I should sue the Sunday Times Magazine, after it published an extraordinary article libelling me and my charity work. I heard it had called upon the usual suspects as "proof"; but the subsequent fantastic support from friends and colleagues from all stages of my life, who, unprompted, have offered to tell the real story, has been truly overwhelming.
And this month I've discovered a new hobby - my bruised and aching body bears testament to my working hard all week with my wing chun kick-boxing teacher. No, I haven't gone insane. It struck me - after a girlfriend was recently held at knifepoint while her valuables were violently stripped from her body - that a metal leg might well come in handy at full force in the gonads of some unsuspecting, knife-wielding coward. Unfortunately, in practice, I misjudged and decked my instructor!
This month, the Nairobi landmine summit was held, which made us all euphoric. The 23 non-signatory countries, including China, Russia and the US, all attended. That shows huge promise for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which has gathered 144 state party signatories in just seven years, a huge achievement that few believed possible. It shows what can be done when a group of like-minded people get together and focus on the issue of clearing the world of landmines.
Which leads me back to the waggly tail . . . the one I saw on a loving German shepherd being pulled out of a sack, before he stiffened and cowered, his tail between his legs. I will never forget the horror on his face as he was tied up and skinned alive in front of other terrified dogs whimpering in the corner. These animals are abused purely for our consumption here in the west; only the poorest of the poor eat dog and cat now in China. The US has banned their import, as have some EU countries, so sales have shifted to the UK to make up for lost revenue.
Asian merchants told Humane Society undercover investigators that they would give up the business immediately if there was a ban, rather than risk high-end exports being banned as a punishment. So get your act together, European Commission; while you are dilly-dallying around, your dog or cat may be next in line. Dogs and cats have no voice. We do. They have no choice. We do. Choose not to wear fur and you will contribute towards diminishing the market for which two million innocent dogs and cats are slaughtered every year.