Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Can you spread the word?

The petition is doing well - as I write we've got more than 670 people signed, which is great. But having been sent a copy of the letter Defra are sending out it would seem we're going to have to shout a lot louder if we want Government to sit up and take notice.
And from the email Dogs Trust has sent out I don't think they really appreciate the depth of this problem, either.

Here's some suggestions!
Try to tell every dog walker you meet about the petition. Maybe copy and paste the section below and hand them the blurb or tell them to Google 'Dogs Today magazine' and go to the editor's blog to find the petition - I'll have the link on here, every post. Even if they just type in "pedigree dogs petition" they'll probably find it if they know to look for it.

Be great if that can go on any physical noticeboards you can find - and don't forget the non-doggie places, too - the people who care about this issue are just the general public - literally the man, woman and child in the street and they'll be on forums to do with every single strata of society. If you or your family is a member of any group - please cross post! I even found a strand on the David Icke forum yesterday!

Here's some suggested wording if you want to copy and paste:

Were you moved by Pedigree Dogs Exposed?
(the distressing documentary about the health of dogs shown on BBC1 in August?)

You may have heard that the RSPCA and Dogs Trust have since pulled out of Crufts in an attempt to encourage the Kennel Club to reform. If you would like to send a clear message to both the Kennel Club and to Government that change is urgently needed to stop future dogs from suffering then please sign this e-petition on the official 10 Downing Street site. The latest letters sent out from Defra suggest they haven't yet heard from enough of the general public to make this issue significant. Please do all you can to change their perspective!

Here's the petition wording:

Following the powerful Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary on
BBC1 the Kennel Club still seems reluctant to grasp the nettle,
face the problems and reform itself. The program revealed it
urgently needs to bring in mandatory minimum standards on
levels of inbreeding, make health testing mandatory, prevent
unhealthy physical exaggerations being rewarded and stop the
culling of healthy non-standard pups by changing breed
standards. The KC continually complains that it lacks the
backing of legislation to bring in these urgent and much needed
reforms, so we the undersigned urge the Prime Minister please
instigate legislation to ensure pedigree dogs are saved from
unnecessary future suffering.

If you would like to add your name to this petition please go to this link:
http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ReformtheKC/

If you'd like to know more about the issues raised by the TV programme, follow the petitioner's blog for all the latest developments http://coldwetnose.blogspot.com/
For example, did you know that the Cavalier Club are holding a Special General Meeting to expel one of their members from the health committee. Had they chosen to expel the woman who knowingly bred 20 plus litters from a dog affected by syringomyelia - the disease that was so memorably described on TV as "like a having a brain like a size 10 foot stuffed into a size 6 shoe," we'd all be very happy - but still no action has been taken against that breeder who used the affected dog at stud twice more after the documentary makers confronted her on camera! But no, astonishingly, the club instead plan to expel Margaret Carter, the brave lady who revealed on camera that this dog had been diagnosed with SM and that the owner had been advised not to breed from him. The meeting will be held on October 5th - more details to come on the blog as we know them.

Below is the very disappointing Defra letter - oh dear what a dreary response it is! If we wait for DNA tests for every condition we'll not have any dogs left. They completely miss the point that the level of inbreeding is the very first thing we have to tackle, that complacency really isn't an option. That we all know very much more needs to be done. And what chance of change if the breeders have to address all the problems without strong direction from the Kennel Club? The majority of litters are bred by people having their first and only litter. We obviously need a framework that guides everyone on best practise.

I hate repetition - but even Dogs Trust have got this totally wrong - in their e-letter to supporters just sent out they say, "We know that the majority of breeders prioritise good health and temperament in their dogs and are responsible in their breeding methods."

How can they know? When only 60,000 Labradors have ever been tested for hip dysplasia in the 30 years the scheme has been going - bearing in mind the KC registers 45,000 new Labs every year that's a huge scary majority untested in a breed with a huge problem! Only 6% of Gundogs registered in the last quarter were from the flawed Accredited Breeder scheme... it's the vast majority bred that are from completely untested stock.

There are some wonderful breeders, but they are sharing a system with a huge number that badly need very strong guidance - urgently.

Please do everything you can to spread this petition - anyone a whizz at facebook? It's time to connect with all those people who cried, who shouted at their TVs. They still care about this issue but they don't know what they can do.
I went to the hairdressers at the weekend and a new girl cut my hair who didn't know what I did. We got onto dogs quite quickly and her sister had phoned her while the Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary was on saying she had to watch it. She had missed the start, so didn't know I'd was involved so had no reason to adapt her interpretation, but she could very clearly remember word-for-word the Chairman of the KC saying mother to son matings were okay and that he didn't want any scientists telling him what to do.
She has signed the petition and wants to tell all her customers, too.
Let's find these people and lets make the petition grow and grow so that no one can forget this issue.

Here's the depressing Defra letter... (thanks to Jan for sending on):

"The Animal Welfare Act 2006, which came into force last year, means that we now have the power to make regulations to protect the offspring of vertebrate animals. The various genetic problems suffered by pedigree dogs have long since recognised by the Veterinary profession and the Government. The Government welcomes the work being done by organisations such as the Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association to address these problems. It also welcomes the work being done by the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) to bring together expert opinion on the nature of these problems and how they should be addressed.

"Advances have been made by geneticists in developing DNA based tests for some conditions. This provides breeders with the opportunity to breed responsibly and to improve the welfare of future off-spring.

"The Government accepts that there are shortcomings in the existing law on the commercial breeding of dogs. While a overhaul of these laws is required to ensure we can stamp out puppy farming, it will also provide an opportunity to put in place measures that include a requirement on commercial breeders to adhere to programmes aimed a the eventual eradication of traits that cause unnecessary suffering in dogs. However, the breeding out of such traits must be seen as a long term goal which breeders themselves must seek first to address. The Government does not see these matters as priorities for new animal welfare legislation - although it does recognise the concerns felt by many regarding breeding standards.

"The European Convention has been an important catalyst in raising animal welfare standards. The introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in England and Wales - as well as the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 - means that our laws are now consistent with the principles set out in the Convention. Nevertheless, there are aspirations in the convention, in particular the resolution on breed standards, which may not necessarily be the most effective way of promoting welfare.

"Defra is currently working with the devolved administrations to identify those areas that may cause mutual concerns and the implications were the Government to sign the Convention.

I hope this letter addresses your concerns.

Your sincerely
MB, Defra - Customer Contact Unit

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the lack of response (600 signatures is I think dispaportionate to the number of people outraged) is down to the fact that some don't want to be seen to question the Kennel Club maybe for fear of reprisals in the same way that the lady was kicked out of the cavalier club for speaking out.
Those in the show ring do know that judges have their favourites which is why turn outs for foreign judges is always so high. How many can say they didn't know that such and such a dog would win? Is that why they don't want to be seen to be standing up for better restrictions? After all the Accredited Breeder Scheme brags about healthier dogs - is it too much to ask that it is enforced?
What is the problem with being disassociated (sp?) with breeders who don't test!!!!
I ask you all if you health test and care about the progeny you are breeding then speak out - maybe not sign up to the petition but make your voice heard. The kennel club needs to know that more of you care about health testing and genetic diversity than those who don't. Unless of course they want to be associated with those that don't test and churn them out to meet public demand and no I am not talking about puppy factories.
I despair.

Mutthouse xx

Becca said...

I've posted a link on my Facebook asking people to sign and i've also created a Dogs Today fan page and posted lins on there.

Jan said...

A quick thank you to Becca for doing the Facebook bit. I thought this was a good idea as I know so many people who use it, but I am not one of them! Was thinking about registering purely for that purpose, but now Becca had done the job. Well done!