This could be a tremendous opportunity for meaningful change.
Until we see what's in these plans we won't know for sure if this a PR exercise to soothe the BBC into sticking with their Crufts coverage or a serious attempt to sort out the endemic problems in the pedigree dog world.
If you have seen one of these Breed Health Plans up close, please do enlighten me!
According to the KC website here are the three areas they seek to cover with the plans:
- The conformation of the breed
- The prevalence of certain conditions and diseases within the breed (once priorities have been agreed, the steps to tackle these will be formulated)
- The diversity of the breed’s gene pool.
Most breed standards are staying the same, say the KC. Some minor tweaks, some major... probably those breeds they had on their worry list. But how effective can a wording change be? Did the last lot of changes change the Bulldog for example? I can't tell the difference. How will the changes be policed?
All breed standards will now include a paragraph that in essence passes the buck to the judges and makes them responsible for not rewarding exaggerations and only putting up sound, healthy dogs. In future the KC may also ask for feedback from judges on exaggerations.
So self-policing rather than leadership, much easier to administer and better for the bottom covering objective of saying any future mess isn't the KC's fault because they've written this wonderful get-out clause!
Information about existing health problems is also included in these breed plans. And the KC are referencing their data as being from:
- The KC/AHT/BSAVA Scientific Committee’s Pure Bred Dog Health Survey, completed in 2004.
- An analysis which has been compiled using data provided by Agria Pet Insurance and covers all purebred dogs covered under the Kennel Club Healthcare Plan for the past 5 years.
- A list of conditions included in published material in peer-reviewed scientific literature.
Wouldn't it be more productive to cut out that consultation stage and instead ask the club to debate the introduction of mandatory testing where appropriate? Rather than just agree the list of conditions in an expensive proof reading exercise?
After all the feedback from the breed clubs - on what will be a relatively untweaked breed standard and a list of probably undisputed conditions - only then will genetic diversity be discussed.
I'm sorry, I was hoping to feel more excited at this point - but to me that just sounds like a lot of paper and not much action.
I'd have started with point three - genetic diversity - and worked backwards.
It would be so much easier and so much more effective to quickly limit the use of popular sires. To set targets for improved coefficients of inbreeding for all breeds and to start making the calculation of COI easier for all with a searchable KC database that works these complex formulas out for everyone.
It sounds like an attempt at looking very busy.
An attempt to show the BBC that they are doing everything possible - honest.
I'm afraid I'm not impressed so far, will the BBC be? I'm sure that's who this is aimed at.