Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Call to arms (or legs I guess!) after Pedigree Dogs Exposed

Time to start a new thread as the comments are getting so long.
So what shall we do - start Pedigrees Exposed and Vulnerable and try and keep up this pressure till we get the points made in the documentary acted upon?
Are we agreed on aims:
After viewing the Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary on BBC1 on August 19th we would like to urge the Government to urgently look into the health and welfare of pedigree dogs and ensure that the Kennel Club reacts to the scientific evidence in the programme by 1. Limiting inbreeding and outcrossing with other breeds where genetically necessary 2. Making health testing mandatory where testings schemes exist 3. Making radical changes to the judging system to make sure that exaggerated dogs are no longer being awarded prizes. 4. Educating against the culling of non-standard healthy puppies.
Anything else - or is that roughly what we're after?
If you need to get all fired up again - do read the KC's webpage of support...
It convinced me they haven't rolled over and admitted they have a problem yet... and that they have to if they're going to change things for the better.
Yesterday's heroes to get blood pressure going down again:
Mark Evans - for making the RSPCA something I will now join!
Cavalier owner Carol Fowler for her incredible bravery.
How can we take this further everyone? Thanks for the supportive posts, too. Lovely to hear from you again Manda and I agree we should be on the same side on most things!

21 comments:

Manda Scott said...

HI Beverley - What matters here is that we find a way forward to healthier dogs worldwide, and in the UK in particular. This means two things, I think: that fewer dogs are bred and those that are bred conform to stringent health, temperament and conformation standards.

The KC has said, "The Kennel Club refutes that it would put ‘looks’ above the health of pedigree dogs, in fact we actively discourage the exaggeration of features in any breed."

I can think of half a dozen breeds effortlessly where this is utterly untrue - several of them highlighted by the program last night.

It might be interesting to present a list to the KC - with photographic evidence - and see what they say.

and the breeder who was helping to contain the problem in Cavaliers was also a hero - she should have an article all her own in DT...

thank you

Manda Scott

Beverley Cuddy said...

Already planned for November's edition - we featured her story in the Little Black Dog Book as a case history for SM - but she's gone on to achieve so much since losing her beloved dog.

Beverley Cuddy said...

Good ideas Manda - sorry pressed send before I meant to! Be great to get a few more vets on board, what did you make of the BVA President's support for the KC? We all agree we need a KC and a strong one, but uncritical support of them at this unreformed stage? Most vets are really worried by hereditary probs, was surprised to see him so out of step with teh grass roots. I see the BVA web site has a much more measured message today!

Manda Scott said...

Hi...

Well, to be President of the BVA, you have to be a career politician and career politicians aren't widely known for rocking the boat...

Sadly, I'm not a real vet any more, just a once-was. I write novels now, which is why I have time to have a dog, and to think about getting another one, which is how I got into this in the first place. I foolishly thought I'd like a pedigree (if only to know its parentage, and to find one where the pups were properly socialised - very hard in 'accident' dogs). It's been a real eye-opener... there has been astounding honesty from some people and equally astounding mendacity from others.

But as to what we do:

we need to change the attitude of the KC from the bottom up - while Ronnie Irvine can say with a straight face that he 'doesn't want scientists telling him what to do' then we're lost. It's genetic science that can demonstrate why reducing the CoI is a disaster. If you don't or won't understand that, then everything else is pointless. This is a man who believes in mother/son matings - 'it depends on the mother/son'

No. It. Doesn't.

So we need root and branch change and it will only come from the grass roots having the courage to face down the powerful vested interest who see 'breed type' and nothing else.

I am being told that this is a case of a few bad apples, but actually, I rather think there's an entire rotten barrel with a few shining red beacons floating in the mess. Dog breeders are, by definition, using genetics. They have a moral and ethical duty to keep themselves up to date with genetic science -and to use it.

So - I'm rather keen on my 7 point plan, but we do need a plan. It's far more effective to say 'we want you to do this, tell us why you won't,' than to say 'we need you to be different'.

failing all that, we get together as many vets, geneticists and sane breeders as we can and form a new Kennel Club

Manda

Skidge said...

I agree with you Manda. Last nights documentary has stirred up all sorts of comment and emotions about the issues (appalling) and the way it was portrayed (open for debate!)

Moving forward from here is the thing that needs to be in focus now. I personally feel that the way forward wasn't highlighted well last night and I have had a very healthy debate with Beverley about it today.

I worry about the media and the mentality it creates here in the UK. The programme last night could so easily have been edited to come across in a certain way. It is good and interesting that lots of interested parties have issued statements today. Its there, in writing, to be referred to.

However, if the KC or Breed clubs start to regulate themselves responsibly it should move among the dog world and those wishing to own dogs. It will take a few generations of dogs but hopefully in the right direction.

Onwards and upwards!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Beverley for letting us know the programme was on. I would have missed it otherwise. I don’t want to repeat comments already made but two things stood out to me. I was so impressed with Carol Fowler’s determined efforts to ensure no other dog suffers the way her first Cav did. What an amazing lady! The other thing (in quite a contrast to Carol) was the expressions on the faces of the KC chairman and his colleagues when being interviewed. They were smiling in such a sickly, guilty way, like they knew they were in the wrong but trying to hide it. Did anyone else think this? It was shocking that they didn’t seem to be taking the questions posed seriously. It’s a very sad time for pedigree dogs with the current KC representing them. I look forward to reading how I can help.

As part of the agenda perhaps this could be included – something about how the KC don’t tackle how many pedigree (and non-pedigree) dogs are destroyed in rescue centres every year due to over-breeding and lack of homes. If more pedigree dog breeders were aware of this vast problem perhaps some may consider producing less litters, and perhaps potential pedigree dog owners might turn to breed rescue or fall for a lovable mutt in a shelter. – Not really sure whether this is suitable for what you’re planning but thought I’d mention it.

…Vicky

PS – BTW The ‘Vicky’s Blog’ comment left on the last blog entry isn’t me. I may have to change my name!

Ann Jones said...

The Panorama programme on pedigree dogs has caused a storm of protest and much coverage in the dailies. I just hope that it wont be a seven day wonder and then be forgotten. If only the ordinary "man/woman in the street" knew how to make his/her voice heard then changes would certainly be made to how dogs are bred and to breed standards. Other countries are able to legislate against in-breeding - so must we.

Hayley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mandywolves said...

I think we do need to do something now, before the impact of last night's programme loses its sharpness - people I've spoken to today (who didn't even see it and are not particularly "dog lovers" as such) are ready to sign petitions.

It occurs to me that some of the health problems don't show themselves until a certain age (hypothyroidism and epilepsy for example) so maybe there should be something about not breeding until that age has been passed in typically affected breeds?

Like everyone else I was reduced to tears at the sight of the poor cavalier in such terrible pain and the boxer's fitting was awful to see (the poor owners - how stressed out they must be) but somehow what shocked me the most was the sight of that ringful of German Shepherds who could hardly walk and one of them WINNING - how can these breeders not SEE what they're doing?

Thanks so much for leading us in this Beverley and for having been prepared to put your head above the parapet all these years - just let us know what we can do (I'll certainly be writing to the Kennel Club for a start - the more letters they get bombarded with the better, I feel)

Hayley said...

This exposure has been long overdue. Having spent three years aspiring to be a responsible breeder I was deeply shocked and saddened to see firsthand the deceitful, self-preservation behaviour of top breeders. I became increasingly disillusioned with the show scene, and 'type’ worship and its effects on bloodlines.

Worth noting that The Kennel Club’s accredited breeder scheme is based on recommendation of health testing, not a requirement, it’s an umbrella used to further falsify the health and ‘quality’ of the dogs produced. Frequently, clubs and breeders within them place blame on the back yard breeder and puppy farmer, although poor practice is undeniably a potential factor, the difference between the breeders at the bottom of the pile who bred without health tests, is those at the top who health test but often breed regardless of the results, we are supposed to look up to and respect the latter yet they know exactly the damage they're doing. Furthermore to rely on health testing is fundamentally flawed, modern population genetics has taught us that inbreeding/linebreeding is a far greater problem. Why are we ignoring science that has been around for ten years in favour of the lesser beneficial effects of health testing the small portion of the five hundred heredity diseases currently affecting our dogs.

This could be a golden opportunity to improve things, unfortunately buyers seeking out a KC accredited breeders is certainly not the way to go in the current climate, which leads me to the question whether any of us, in the current climate, can justify breeding when the current overpopulation crisis leads us to destroy excess dogs week in and week out.

Edit: somewhat of an angry rant I'm afraid, please feel free to move to the appropriate section.

Frosty said...

I am on ordinary dog owner and have always been taught to look up to the kennel club as a respectable organisation. Upon deeper investigation they aren/t what they seem.
Perhaps we should think about creating an organisation that does actually care for the dogs welfare and not the funds that can be raised from shows etc. An organisation that actually promotes breeders who health test their animals. And a place that any problems with lines can be accessed, for information purposes so that people can make up their own mind if they are prepared to buy a dog from that line and risk illness? Hopefully with this info and choice people will chose a dog without heridatary problems. Perhaps this way we can save these breeds?

Anonymous said...

Just doing some info gathering of how much the KC has done in recent years and thought I'd draw readers attention to this:

http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=1429&d=pg_dtl_art_news&h=244&f=0

It has a list of grants given by the KC charitible trust since 1987 totalling £3,334,199.15 including £9,050 given to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club for research into Syringomyelia.

I do fall into the camp that the KC has much work to do but perhaps more info about this should have been included in the programme?

...Vicky

Beverley Cuddy said...

I looked at those accounts, too. They've got 2 million in the trust unspent, think they need to get the cheque book out and spend some more money pronto - and not just on fancy PR companies to spin them out of this mess. Have you seen their swanky new genetics website? That was registered initially by a major outside PR company according to another website that had dug out their registration - now been transferred to Ronnie Irving just in case we go snooping!

Time for action - not more spin!

Anonymous said...

I watched this documentary from my point of view as a breeder. I have never inbred nor bred father/daughter etc.And only for the betterment of my breed.
I agree that there are still those breeders that are stuck in the dark ages, but the majority of us are not like the ones reprensented on this very biased and sensationlised documentary.I cannot believe that in 2 years of filming not one person had anything postive to say.
The kennel club are making huge strides to try and deal with health problems, but unless they are suported, breeders will just not register puppies and it will go underground and there will be even more problems.
We need to eradicate the irresponsible breeding, and the media incited breeding, such as the chi for being a designer dog.And we need to support the kennelc lub and the breeders to help them further the genetic testing to help solve this problem.It will not be quick and MUST be looked at in the long term.It will take in reality as much as 20 years to get the genetics under control.
The way this featured predominatley on Cavs will in no doubt have an effect on the amount of puppy sales that will now be cancelled, and the amount that will end up in rescue as people panic.
This programme showed a dog screaming and writhing in pain.That would surely not have been the first time it felt pain like that, and in my opinion, that poor dog should have had the fianl relief it deserved long before it got to that stage. I felt it was bordering on cruelty.As someone who has nursed a dog through a brain tumour, and ended up injecting morphine at home just to give the dog some peace, I took the decision to let my dog go, before she got to the stage of pain that was portrayed in this documentary.
I know this will infuriate a lot of your blog readers but feel us breeders have a right to speak too.

Beverley Cuddy said...

Hello Good breeder and welcome.

A word of detail about the poor dog in pain, that dog was put to sleep that day. That was the last image of the dog and it was taken with the owners phone - there was no intrusive film crew in her house. She shares that image in the hope that others don't have to suffer the same fate.

The facts in the documentary must be accepted, the problems faced and the KC must reform and become strong and provide the framework outlines elsewhere.

Statistically the good are in the minority - the mediocre who don't health test are the vast number and they need a framework that makes them so the right thing before Government imposes one on them they like even less.

But good breeders are our hero's, so welcome. Please do check out Furry Godmother - people who do things right have all our admiration and support.

Anonymous said...

But surely the way of change is working together and supporting, not launching a witchunt.
I dont have to accept the facts of the programme- it was inbiased and did not show any of the work that is being done.
Change in any situation only occurs when the majority work together,not when the majority is being whipped into a frenzy.
I have client who is a cavalier breeder and is now too frightnened to walk her dogs because of the abuse that was shouted at her in the street because of this documentary.THAT is not acceptable that this poor woman who does everything right is being branded in this way.
The media should be going all out to help and educate the dog owners and breeders not whip the situation into such an inflamed state that someone is branded unmentionable names in the street.
This documentary is now aired and in the past , you as an editor should now be encouraging people to support the kc to get these genetic problems sorted out, not the complete reverse.The focus, should be on education and testing now,not on the who said what and when.
I do not support the culling of any live puppy just because of its looks, and yes these breeders should be dragged into the present day, but that can only happen with the KC, So there is no doubt that we should be supporting them to ge this under control.

Beverley Cuddy said...

Yes - we say work together. The good breeders should urge the KC to bring in the three point plan that is essential. They need to get tougher. No, you can't call all the scientists research biased - and they all say clearly, stop in-breeding, change the standards and use the health tests. It's not rocket science.

If you're a good breeder, encourage other - lobby the KC to get tough and start governing.

Anonymous said...

but where did it show any of the work that is being done already- no where.So in my eyes and that of many more surely means unbiased.
So does this mean that you as an editor are now going to start educating and supportiing ,so things can be changed? And help the kennel club to acheive these changes through the education of your readership?

Beverley Cuddy said...

I didn't make the documentary, but you have to remember it was just that - it was an hour long programme. It brilliantly showed us what's wrong - it wasn't up to them to tell us how to put it right.

And yes we have been working positively since 1995 to set up a framework for advising anyone who wants to know what health tests are available and giving any breeder that does them free adverts for their pups (there are other criterea - but that's the main one). It's been what we've been abut for donkey's years.

But now you've found us - check it out for yourselves - click the Furry Godmother link, pick up the mag. It's been our life's work to better improve the future of dogs. and we've been nipping the KC heels privately, publicly but consistently for decades!

Anonymous said...

The emphasis is on the public as well as the breeder and the kennel club.
It is also up to the public to only buy from breeders who can prove the health of their dogs and pups.My bitches have health checks before mating, and the puppies get written health checks at 6 weeks.The prospective owners are also able to speak to my vet if they would like.
You should be educating the public that this is the only way to buy puppies, not just the 'aahh isnt he cute!' You wouldnt buy a car without seeing any paperwork so why is a dog any different.
If the public start demanding this from breeders, then this will help the kennel club to speed the changes needed.It is their responsibilty too- not just ours.And the breeders in question will have no alternative than to drag themsleves into the present day.
If you were to inform your readers on how to read pedigrees and check for close breeding, the public can then make the right choice.And how to about health problems and to see health checks.Any breeder that wont give this type of information should be walked away from anyway.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think that people are expecting too much of the Kennel Club. People should realise that when it comes to pedigree dogs, all the Kennel Club is, is an organisation that records breeding. They keep the records of who mated with who to produce who. A bit like the births, deaths and marriages people for humans! That's it! While they get involved with dogs in other areas, when it comes to pedigree dogs, they are purely record keepers.

So while they can try and persuade breeders to improve, they are really pretty a toothless tiger.

Only through legislation will things change. Only by the government making changes that organisations can then enforce will some of the dreadful breeders shown on that programme be stopped. It would be so simple to do.... There is already the Animal Welfare Bill to tack welfare laws onto.

Many people are talking about the fantastic work being done by the Kennel Club in Sweden - and it is very true - but they have legislation to back them. Registration with them is compulsory for all dog owners, no one can operate outside of them, and the legislation that is in place gives them the teeth to actually enforce good practise.

So perhaps instead of moaning at the monkey, we should take our issues to the organ grinder - and let's push hard for legislation that will make changes to breeding practises and will protect all dogs.