Tonight's BBC1 Pedigree Dogs Exposed was very strong, but it was accurate. It hit home here. I cried, who didn't? Those trusting little faces on those poor Cavaliers, how badly have they been let down by man?
Things have to change. Our chief sub Claire has just been on a non-doggie forum for mums and they're all talking about it.
Even if people thought they were ambivalent, maybe didn't even really like dogs - this show gave people an opinion. It had people throughout Britain shouting at the screen.
It moved me and I pretty much knew what was coming.
There's just been a comment posted on my earlier blog that you might otherwise miss - but I feel I have to answer some of those points. Not picking on you, just want to reply as you make some interesting points.
"I was so disappointed with the BBC over this. What a dreadful piece of over sensational journalism!!!"
I disagree. I thought it was clear, concise and very well crafted. What about you? Bravo BBC, bravo Passionate Productions. Reminded me of the gritty Chicken Out Channel 4 documentaries. TV that makes people think, makes people care. It's what the good old Beeb should be all about.
"I do worry that some dogs are over bred or in bred we know it happens. The Kennel Club is obviously trying to put schemes in place and they said that they were not a reactionary organisation (which what the media want these days - solve it and solve it YESTERDAY)"
How long do we give them? They've been making a dog's breakfast of things since 1873! Surely that's long enough? I personally filed my first constructive suggestion at the KC for compulsory health-testing back in 1980-something! That's one hell of a germination process. Surely we've been patient enough? The Swedes are 20 plus years ahead of us already!
"The problem really is with the breeders that are knowingly breeding dogs with conditions. How can the Kennel Club know what is going on breeding wise on some farm in the sticks?? They are not the secret police or Big Brother and quite rightly the head vet of the BVA said that it will be disaster if the Kennel Club became obsolete and no-one will monitor the situation."
The KC needs to develop some balls - make health testing compulsory if people want to show and breed, ban brother and sister matings and other close combinations. Strike off judges who insist on still picking dogs that are exaggerated.
Other younger KCs do it. And, as our own KC has already made health testing mandatory for one breed - the Irish Setter - why not do it for the other 200 odd?
I want the KC to step up to the plate, take the criticism on the chin and get to work sorting this mess out. It's their job to govern, they are sitting on a fortune in Piccadilly - now is the time to stop worrying about losing a bit of revenue from the bad breeders and start setting sensible rules - they have a massive rule book for all kinds of minutiae, but this documentary showed on the big issues - waffle and fresh air!
"I really didn't like the way they subversively confronted the winner the Cavalier King Charles spaniel after she had won her show. Yes the woman shouldn't be breeding with a known condition, but I actually felt sorry for her as the journalist was completely tactless and cringeworthy in her approach. And quite rightly they told the journalist outside Parliament her approach was disgusting - it was."
It did ruin her day apparently, it made her cry. But didn't you cry at watching that poor dog with SM screaming. Didn't the fact that she had produced countless pups after a positive diagnosis make you less worried about her being reminded that what she did has a consequence?
"I was in tears at the state of some of those dogs, and thought it was really sad, but they didn't talk to any breeders who have bred AWAY from conditions to remove potentially fatal illnesses. To me, if they had done that, and talked to prominent breeders about what other breeds have done to solve problems, would have convinced me this was balanced journalism. It was not. Good luck to the lady Carol Fowler who is waging a battle of awareness. You were the one positive thing in this documentary."
I agree with you here - Carol is a saint, so was the brave lady who spoke out whose own stud dog turned out to be a carrier.
There are brilliant breeders out there - but we have a system that doesn't do them justice at the moment. We need those good breeders to keep pushing the KC to reform. When the spotlight goes away will they just go back to their old ways again?
During the radio interviews I took part in today I heard something really remarkable. I was sharing airtime with the KC's secretary Caroline Kisko. Some of you may remember Crufts two years ago. I wrote an article in the Telegraph with the title "Should Crufts be Banned?"
Live on GMTV Caroline Kisko accused me of making things up about the poor health of the nation's dogs, that there wasn't a problem. That I had some weird agenda.
Nearly two years on with a major BBC documentary hanging over her... now she acknowledged there was a problem, that they might consider making health testing mandatory, may even consider crossing some pedigree breeds with others...
What an amazing conversion - Hooray!!!!
She claimed the looming documentary had nothing to do with these new policies! That the "freaky' documentary couldn't tell the KC anything they didn't already know - that they know there are serious problems.
So why were the KC crying biased reporting on their own website last week?
Let's just hope the pressure keeps up and we get some proper tangible change.
If not, please remember the poor little Cavalier, the snuffly Pug. They really don't deserve to suffer and that's the future for every breed if we don't stop inbreeding change the way dogs shows operate and make health testing mandatory.