Friday, 11 April 2008

Wrinkles that wrankle?

Don't know about you, but until yesterday I thought that tacking was something you did on a boat or to turn up a hem temporarily.
Until I picked up this week's Dog World, I was blissfully unaware that Shar-Pei puppies sometimes have to have their excess skin folds 'tacked' up by a vet so they can see.
Up until now it seems this has been going on with no one at the KC even raising an eyebrow (maybe surgical enhancement had rendered this manoeuvre impossible for them, too!)
I had thought that you always had to ask the KC for permission to show if you had any surgical procedure that altered the appearance of the dog, no matter how minor - even neutering. But the latest statement from the KC implies that before they'd simply been turning a blind eye to it. In fact, they are saying that while they're going to ask Shar-Pei breeders to seek permission to show a puppy that has been tacked in the future, older dogs who have already had this form of plastic surgery can continue to be shown.
But it seems that the KC's attempt to crack down on future tacking may prove tricky. The first press release claimed that in future vets "must" report such surgery to the KC. But it seems the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons were unaware of this arrangement and reported
that their professional code of conduct would "permit" vets to report the surgery but didn't "require" them to.
After Dog World pointed this out the KC revised their statement to say that vets "may" rather than "must" report the procedure. Which rather weakens what I saw as quite a hopeful sign of them starting to try to move away from ridiculous excesses.
It could be seen as quite an empty gesture because if you were determined to keep showing a very wrinkled dog , I guess you'd just shop around till you found a vet that chooses not to report you. or you could choose the DIY option.
In fact the Shar-Pei people themselves are complaining that this move has more to do with politics than anything else.
Mr Barry Bull, Chairman of the Midland Shar-Pei Club is quoted in Dog World as saying: "On whose advice and for what reasons did the KC find it necessary to take such a step at this particular time?
"This is some bonkers idea that someone dreamt up yesterday and didn't think through properly - a quick response to something political."
He explained that the tacking op on a very young pup could save the dog having surgery for entroprion (eyelids that turn in) later in life. That in the US people often do their own tacking at home without a vet and that the KC rule change could encourage people to do the operation at home.
He told Dog World, "There are one or two people over here who we have heard about who do self-tack. I wouldn't want to do that to a two-week old puppy."
Mr Bull went on to say how much the Shar-Pei had improved, but that they don't get any credit for it.
KC Secretary Caroline Kisko told Dog World, "We have to be seen to be moving away from exaggeration in all breeds, to be breeding away the problem. We can't be seen to be supporting this kind of thing, or ultimately the Government will make decisions for us. I believe that the majority of the dog world who are unaware of this practise would be horrified."
So just as we have seen with the 'discredited' accredited breeder scheme - the KC are now running scared of what the Government might do next. Will they ratify the European Convention of Pet Animals like the vast majority of countries in Europe have already done?
Will we see much more of these flashy empty gestures in the next few months as the KC seek to convince Defra that the future health of British dogs is safe in their hands?
Will this announcement encourage the breeding of less wrinkly Shar-Pei, or will it merely mean that the plastic surgery will still happen, just that bit more discreetly? Is the main aim to be seen to be doing something - or to actually do something meaningful? What a shame a more sensible, long-term approach to dog health wasn't adopted by the KC years ago, all this last minute knee-jerk reaction is helping no one.

And please don't forget Penny and Freddie. Click here to read their stories.


Chapstaff said...

The Kennel Club have a lot to answer for I'm afraid.
Why was I surprised to read that they don't follow a code of practise in this matter?

I hadn't noticed them doing much to try & improve breed standards in recent years. Tail cropping is about the only thing I know about.

Why don't they announce publicly that they are going to make life better for certain breeds with gross exaggerations - breeds that would have naturally died out by now - & be seen to be doing something positive.

Anyone could be forgiven for assuming they don't care about dogs.

Anonymous said...

The future health of our dogs will never be safe whilst the KC is the governing body. I think Defra need to re-look at joining the European Convention or come up with a better scheme themselves.