We pet lovers know how sad it is to lose a member of our animal family. Last week one of our adorable and adored rabbits, Florence, died out of the blue. Healthy and happy one day, then suddenly gone, leaving two very upset owners and, worse, a grieving companion in the shape of her litter-mate Edna.

We have no idea why Florence died — and nor does the vet — although we know that rabbits are prone to sudden deaths. But what we do know is that she had a very happy five years of life, with companionship in the shape of Edna and as rabbit-friendly a home and garden as you could imagine.

She's now buried beneath one of the apple trees under which she loved to stretch out — and Edna is about to get a rescue rabbit as a new companion; and it is almost certainly going to be a rabbit which has been neglected by its previous owners.

It never ceases to amaze me the casual way in which so many people take on pets, with far too many innocent creatures being abandoned once the novelty has worn off — or being bought on a whim because they happen to be fashionable and, worse, conform to a desired "look".

This week saw the climax of the annual Crufts dog show. And while it remains largely a showcase for dedicated and responsible breeders and their animals, over recent years it has attracted controversy.

German shepherds overbred to the point of spinal deformity have caused outcries from animal welfare campaigners; and this year daschunds are under the spotlight, with some breeders being criticised for breeding the dogs too long and too low, which might look endearing but which causes severe mobility problems for many of them.

Messing with genetics and biology just isn't on when it comes to breeding pets. I can't bear to see fashionable breeds with overly-squashed noses struggling to breathe normally, unable to run and exercise. Or pitiful creatures with bulging eyes because they've been bred to look like the film characters Gremlins, as we saw with one breed at Crufts this year — the Japanese Chin, which, say vets, are prone to injuries because of this over-breeding.

As a nation of animal lovers, thankfully those who neglect, abandon or cruelly over-breed pets remain very much in the minority. Your average pet owner like myself loves their creatures, be they mongrels and moggies or pedigree perfection. And the animal charities and sanctuaries do sterling work in caring for and rehoming those most in need of our help.

But producing overbred, deformed creatures who will be plagued by health problems — all to meet the demands of owners in search of novelty and cuteness — is a practice that needs stamping out. Our animals deserve better.