Friday, 12 December 2008

Crufts 2008 not on the TV

Just had a phone call from the Times. The BBC has decided not to show Crufts this year. They will review the subject again for the 2010 show.
It makes sense and it does mean the BBC haven't been dazzled by the frenetic burst of activity initiated by the KC in the last few months.
Twenty years of overdue reform could never be achieved in a few months.
The rush to reword all the breed standards, to compile lists of hereditary diseases that may all had the scent of panic, rather than of a sensible strategy.
And that panic seemed to be more about what the BBC might think, rather than the long term betterment of dogs. If not - why the rush, why not do this organically over the last twenty years like Sweden did?
This decision gives the KC a bit longer to get their act together, before the possibility of BBC Crufts coverage is reviewed again.
Let's hope the KC will now take a deep breath and aim to do it really properly. A thorough deep clean and that means looking at inbreeding not just doing word changes and testing for existing conditions - possibly the most significant thing they can do for the future of pedigree dog health.
While it will be disappointing for many not to see dogs on TV this will focus the KC's mind and hopefully ensure that meaningful reform will happen.

From Jemima Harrison, Director of Pedigree Dogs Exposed:
"The decision vindicates the film and no one will be more delighted than me if Crufts can return at some time in the future with healthier dogs. It was ridiculous to try to undo 50 years of damage in the six months between the documentary airing and Crufts. For example, Rolo the Cavalier with SM is still qualified to compete at Crufts, to be bred on from. The dog's owner is still yet to be censured in any way for breeding on from a dog with a known hereditary condition. Although the KC have been making welcome efforts to change things of late they have yet to put anything in place to deal with genetic diversity. On their website dated November 24th they say they are working with Imperial College on this subject - but they've not been in touch with the College for some months and there is definitely no on-going collaboration. The point of the film is we never said every pedigree dog was buggered - but too many are. Hopefully the film and all that happens next will prove to be a catalyst for meaningful change."

From the RSPCA:
"The RSPCA believes the BBC’s decision not to televise Crufts reflects deep scientific and public concern about the unacceptably high levels of disability, deformity and hereditary disease affecting pedigree dogs.
"In the wake of the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed the RSPCA decided not to attend Crufts 2009 in order to send a clear message that urgent action must be taken to improve the health and welfare of pedigree dogs. Several other leading animal welfare charities and show sponsors have since followed suit.
"The RSPCA’s Mark Evans said: “The BBC’s decision not to televise Crufts clearly reflects serious scientific and public concern about pedigree dog welfare. Hundreds of thousands of dogs are vulnerable to pain, suffering and disease because they’re primarily bred for how they look rather than with health, welfare and temperament as the main focus.
“Dog shows using current breed standards as the main judging criteria are fundamentally flawed and do our much-loved pedigree dogs no favours. They allow and encourage both the breeding of deformed and disabled dogs and the inbreeding of closely related animals. This is morally unjustifiable and has to stop.”
The RSPCA wants to see the emphasis of dog shows shifted away from arbitrary appearance, so that health, welfare and temperament are considered first and foremost. The Society wants to help ensure that pedigree dogs have the best possible chance of being fit, healthy and happy and well suited to the lives they will lead as pets.

The RSPCA has commissioned an independent review of the science in this field, which will be published in the New Year. Amongst a raft of specific recommendations, the following general themes have been identified as possible ways forward:

• An overhaul of the rules and requirements for pedigree dog registration and competitive dog showing (including breed standards). Health, welfare and temperament should be prioritised over appearance.
• The development and implementation of health and welfare-focussed breeding strategies for individual breeds. This should include pro-active steps to increase the genetic diversity of dog breeds.
• More data collection and scientific analysis on causes of disease and death in dogs.
• Education, especially of would-be owners, to encourage demand for dogs which have the best possible chance of leading healthy, happy lives as pets.

For the KC's perspective click here


Julia said...

I take this as good news. As you say, perhaps the KC will now adopt a better, more thorough and thought through approach to the revision of the breed standards and an overhaul of the whole system.

Interestingly this has just been posted on the BBC site and apparently what was at issue was that the BBC were insisting that certain breeds be excluded. They have not said what breeds.

Anonymous said...

Ms Harrison,
You are quoted as saying "The point of the film is we never said every pedigree dog was buggered - but too many are."

My dogs aren't -but now- thanks to your film everyone just thinks they are.
I'm quite sure even you (given the full list of my efforts) would agree that I have taken every possible care to breed healthy, well adjusted CKCS but that is not how others perceive them now.

A clear demarcation between those who try to do the right thing and those who dont should have been made.
It wasn't, nor will it be, the KC who drives my desire to breed healthy happy dogs - it was my integrity, something very hard to legislate for.

Anonymous said...

"we never said every pedigree dog was buggered"

That's exactly what was said.

As for the BBC deciding not to show Crufts, I believe that the BBC expected the Kennel Club to exclude certain breeds such as the Cavalier and German Shepherd from the Group Rings and BIS and even possibly the whole show which only demonstrates how little they understand about dog showing and what Crufts actually is. Of course the Kennel Club could not agree to this so that is why the BBC are not televising Crufts. I'm sure another tv company will be along shortly.

Me I don't care, planning on being their all 4 days anyway, in fact I still haven't watched this years coverage yet.

"It wasn't, nor will it be, the KC who drives my desire to breed healthy happy dogs - it was my integrity, something very hard to legislate for."

Excellent comment which I agree with totally as do I.

jo siemieniowski said...

i am very pleased that the bbc has decided to not show crufts, maybe now the KC will take notice that the majority of dog lover will not stand for what is going on, its about time that these breeders that put money before health are stopped in their tracks, although at present MS COSTELLO is still breeding from her dog that has syringomyelia, and the KC ALLOW IT! the bbc i believe asked for the KC to allow cavaliers to be put on the health programme, and the KC refused this, there are a list of other dogs too, I do not want to let more and more dogs have bad health problems, I wish that my Zak never had Epilepsy, and lots like him, but he has, i accept that for as long as he lives he will cost lots more than i antisipated paying out for " a pet" but money aside its having to see him go through his fits, because every time he does it rips another bit of my heart, in a better KC this would be, and could be practically eliminated. so yes, the BBC are right.

Anonymous said...

I do believe the BBC were attempting to bully the KC into disallowing certain breeds to enter - thankfully the KC virtually said On your bike mate - my terms not their's obviously.

Had 'THAT' program been honest enough to admit the screaming cavie and fitting boxer were both pet bred, ie not bred by show folk, then maybe the government working party would be investigating the CORRECT area's of pedigree and x breed dogs.

The list of oodles has increased since the airing of said program - I found 16 different poodle x's on 1 site non with any mention of health testing - all ready for the Xmas impulse buyers - congratulations to you all.

NO BBC at Crufts is the best news I've had all year - don't think I could be any happier if I'd won a lottery rollover - know what I'd do with the money mind - any tv producers out there want to make an honest documentary?

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask Jo what proof she has that her dogs epilepsy was/is hereditary.

This was a question not asked or covered in that programme nor was the question of what sort of breeder the dog had come from. I would be interested whether Zak came from a breeder who hip scored or heart tested?

Epilepsy can be caused by many, many reasons. What proof do you have that Zaks epilepsy is hereditary.

I also hope that since the programme was aired that you have learnt that you should not restrain a fitting dog as this causes the dog even more distress. I'm afraid that was one of the most distressing items in that programme for me, in fact I was shouting at the tv at that point.

This is not a personal dig at you, just my opinion and I would really welcome a response.

I would also be interested in how the Kennel Club could stop anyone breeding from an epileptic dog, although surely no one in their right minds would do so, this would surely depend on the breeder disclosing to the KC that the dog was epileptic which they are unlikely to do if it would stop them being able to breed from the dog. Once again this relies on a breeders integrity.

I am unsure if there are any tests available that would show whether a dog was epileptic or not. So how can the KC eliminate this?

jo siemieniowski said...

In answer to Anonymous,(why dont these people who think its ok to critisise never put their name on?) what does it matter if my zak was a show bred dog or a pet? he has a pedigree with champions in most lines?? we are talking dogs health here! not if he was a show dog. and the BBC wanted to add cavaliers and rhodesian ridgbacks to the AT RISK register which at the moment has; Bloodhounds,Bassetts,Clumber spaniel, St Bernards, Shar pei, Chow, Neopolitan mastiff, Pekenese, Bulldog, Gsd, and Douge de Bordeaux but it they refused! that is why the BBC pulled out. personally I think that Pugs should be added too, so yes i am pleased with the BBC and the RSPCA for making a stand.

alfmcmalf said...

It seems to me that the moniker "Anonymous" is synonymous with ignorance, idiocy and a good dose of bitterness too.

Those of us who have had and still have epileptic dogs need no lectures on its cause. Believe me I know Jo will have covered anything and everything to try and understand Zak's disease and manage it. Thank god he has a home like hers.

Secondly on the oodles of oodles issues what a load of rot. Any litters of oodles (and all the ones I have met by the way have been delightful dogs) advertised now would have had to have been planned a tad before the landmark documentary was broadcast to over five million people. Unless dozens ventured out the day after to breed .......

The BBC have now at last seen through the dreadful charade that calls itself dog showing. Not all of us who love pedigree dogs love showing - many of us see it as a ridiculous absurdity - however given that this is what it is I do concede it made damn funny television. Still we can all turn to watch it on Horse and hound channel or whatever it is.


jo siemieniowski said...

In answer to ms/mrs/mr anonymous, please do not even attempt to try and tell me that i handle zak the wrong way when he is having a fit, every dog is different, as are people when they have an episode, zak does not just lay on his side and start to shake, he is a large dog, and he actually throws himself about, mostly backwards, my vet told me to try and hold onto him until he goes into the full fit, then to just stroke him and calmly talk to him until he comes out of it, which is what we attempt to do, he is NEVER left on his own,not for one second, holidays are taken in turn so there is always someone responcible with him. that is how much we care about him, as for proof, he has been inbred, he has same grand parents on both sides of his pedigree, which i believe the KC allow!! I think ms/mrs/mr anonymous this dogs health is down to possibly you and all the other idiots who believe that inbreeding/line breeding is the right thing to do. as soon as i knew that zak had epilepsy i had him castrated. that is what a responsible person would do, NOT MS COSTELLO and her cavalier who is allowed to continually breed from him. thats a show person for you.!! I aslo informed the kc about zaks breeder, NO RESPONSE!!

Anonymous said...


I never asked if Zak was a show bred dog or a pet, I asked whether Zak came from a breeder who hip scored or heart tested as this would indicate whether he was bred by a RESPONSIBLE Breeder.

The onus is also on the purchaser to check whether a puppy they are thinking about buying is bred from parents that have had all the appropriate health checks for the breed and in some cases that the puppies have also been tested.

If everyone did this then 'breeders' who do not health test would not be able to sell puppies and would have to start health testing to stay in business.

It doesn't make any difference how many Champions a dog has in its Pedigree if they are not healthy.

I would again ask what proof you have that your dogs epilepsy was/is hereditary?

What the BBC wanted the Kennel Club to do was to exclude from the show 14 named breeds. A request that was impossible to comply with. The KC therefore had no option but to refuse to work with the BBC on next years Crufts.

As I already stated there was no criticism intended but the advice is always to just make sure that a fitting animal/human is safe and in no danger, not to attempt to restrain, and then to quietly reassure when the animal starts to come to and let the animal approach you.

Having the same grandparents on both sides of a pedigree will not cause epilepsy. The most important issue is that the parents are healthy. Once again this depends on a breeders integrity, and once again this it not something that the Kennel Club has any control over or can be legislated for.

I would love to know exactly what you thought the Kennel Club could do to Zaks breeder, they have no power to do anything, your local Trading Standards or County Court may have been more appropriate if you had the proof that the Breeder was at fault.

Not sure I understand about your comment about castration, an uncastrated dog does not have to produce puppies, that is down to responsible dog ownership.

It would have been far more worthwhile if the BBC had continued to broadcast Crufts and attempted to educate potential puppy buyers of what they should be looking for when they are buying a puppy and steered people away from the Puppy Farmers and Dealers, but then it would have been good for the Pedigree Dogs Exposed programme to have done that as well.

Margaret said...

In most cases, epilepsy is not inherited. In a few cases, the tendency towards epilepsy might be inherited, but even with this tendency, certain conditions must exist in the brain before a person/animal will experience epileptic seizures. Epilepsy that runs in families suggests an underlying metabolic or genetic etiology, and this is the least common of epilepsy causes. Vaccinations are a very likely "switch", which could explain why it appears hereditary, whereas only the tendancy is hereditary. One reason I have not had my MMR, as my mother was epileptic and we did not want to turn on the "switch" that could exist. I think it is unfair to blame breeding if a vaccination/booster could have been the cause. In anycase, where did the BBC get the list of breeds on their site and why are Rotts on it? Very odd. Granitecitygirl.

Anonymous said...

I am a responsible breeder, exhibitor etc of pedigree dogs, I health test, breed occassionaly etc. I have also worked for over 20 yrs with families of chromosonal anomalie affected children, meeting many many genetisits and scientists in my time,ignorant I am not.

There is only 1 test for inherited epilepsy in 1 breed ie the Lagatto,developed by DR Hannes Lohi's and his team in Helsinki.

I have breed from a sound girl who produced 1 epileptic pup, under the guidance of a genetisit and my vet she was bred again with a different stud dog - this is called a test mating. These matings are done in a bid to test inheritance, line of inheritance or other causes of the problem.

Once we had the evidence to show the problem is due to that animal she was neutered and all others with the same bloodline given a copy of her pedigree as well as that of her pups. This allows them to look back on their own family members of the same lineage and of course any odd behaviours that had developed, this bitch was with me until the day she died only starting to fit herself at aged 9 yrs so yes I've lived with it too. All puppies were sold to people who understood the risks and of course could be trusted NOT TO BREED from them, the fee was then donated for research, each has maintained contact advising me of any developements and their subsiquent deaths! Remember epilepsy does not always show symptoms and those animals that do generally are between the ages of 3 - 5 years ergo totally out of many breeders control, a first litter should be done before 5 yrs of age otherwise don't breed. You can't have it both ways ie increased genetic diversity AND neutering of potential recessive carrier animals especially when there is no test available.

Epilepsy can be triggered by viral infections, vaccination reactions, chromosonal anomalies (such as sex linked anomalies like the xyy's I've worked with) which in many cases are of the spontanious variety (ie insult to the DNA at time of conception, component development etc), accidental injury to the brain etc, rather than a true genetically inherited problem. Due to the very complex nature of epilpesy research has been ongoing for many years and will continue to do so with the support of pedigree show breeders who are submitting samples and monies for research.

The relevance of the breeders of such animals being show or pet is significant as by and large 'PET' breeders of pedigree dogs DON'T WORRY ABOUT HEALTH ISSUES, ergo non of their DNA is submitted or monies sent.

As for the oodles etc that I've reported here, work it out a bitch is in whelp for on average 57 - 63 days with pups being advertised from 42 days onwards - it has been 116 days since the airing of 'THAT' program, enough time for the more unscrupulous members of the 'pet' breeding fraternity to produce extra litters. These people are not restricted by laws disallowing bitches being bred more than once in any year nor are they adverse to advertising their animals as more healthy and NOT kc registered - although 1 has laid claim to the poodle sire of both her x's litters is from Champion bloodlines!

alfmcmalf said...

I see also now that the moniker "anonymous" is synonymous with knowing absolutely nothing about idiopathic epilepsy also known as familial. Yes seizures can be caused and triggered by many things but there is no doubt that there is a definite famial connection with many seizure conditions and idiopathic epilepsy is one of those.

What I find most interesting is that many show people are desperate to claim they are not a bit bothered about the BBC's decision to ditch Crufts (and believe me this won't be for just one year - it will be several before Crufts comes back to a major channel - whoopee to that) and yet the forums have all lit up with the most aggressive level of posting that we have seen in a long while. Please anonymouses or should the plural be "anonylice" stop attacking Jo - your approaches are really most unpleasant and she has enough to deal with in looking after the lovely Zak. By all means continue to attack me - my epi baby has now long gone sadly - but that means my energies can be directed into helping to sort the mess that dog showing has left us in. Oh and don't even think about asking me if my dog's epilepsy was inherited because I know for a fact that with litter mates also suffering it most certainly was. But there is fantastic research going on at the AHT into this disease so all of you who feel so passionately that you do everyhting you can to support the health and welfare of your beloved breeds - why don't you do something great and submit DNA samples to your breed's relevant research projects.

Jemima Harrison said...

The inclusion of a case of epilepsy in the programme was for several reasons. First and foremost, though, it was because it can be an extremely distressing condition and to stress that breeders have a duty to make breeding choices that reduce the risk. Sadly, though, we discovered numerous instances of breeders continuing to breed from epilepsy-producing lines. This defies common sense.
It's a tricky condition, but with some breeds having such high rates, there is clearly an inherited component in some instances/breeds.

jo siemieniowski said...

Thank you to ALFMCALF and to Jemima, you both wrote what i wanted to say but through a death in the family my head is all over the place, I think I will leave it there for now, Thanks

Beverley Cuddy said...

I really do despair. We're all meant to be dog lovers, so why attack a great owner who is doing the very best in difficult circumstances.

When will dog breeders stop being so defensive - the enemy should be suffering - not the people who tell others about it.

Beverley Cuddy said...

An anonymous - if you are breeding Cavaliers without any heart problems, eye problems or SM - step out of those shadows and reveal yourself! I'm sure there are thousands of people who adore this breed who would like to meet you.

Anonymous said...

When will dog breeders stop being so defensive - the enemy should be suffering - not the people who tell others about it.

When you report all the efforts being made to eliminate these issues within the show world or the lack of efforts in the 'Pet' only pedigree industry.

When you start publishing details of the research groups, scientists etc who are working on the very health problems we are trying to counter.

When you start to encourage YOUR public to support said research groups with blood samples, buccal swabs, monies to maintain their research.

Its not a defensive reaction to question an owner who's experiences are different to yours, its not defensive to give our personal experience, knowledge, advice received etc back to said owner.

I see no attack from breeders here what I do see is people asking for clarification.

Idiopathic - Cause/origins unknown
Familial = occurrance in more members of a family than would be statistically expected
True Dominat autosomal epilepsy in both humans and other mammals is very rare - ie a simple genetic cause. Epilepsy as a stand alone condition is also rather rare with family members suspected of having polygenic susceptability towards seizures on their alles ie Complex epilepsy.

For those of you who truly wish to see the end of these diseases great contact the research groups, offer them blood samples from your affected animals, monies etc do something constructive not just complain and attack those people who are trying to eliminate the problems.
For every sample submitted they stand a chance of being a step closer to finding an answer that will help human suffering as much as animals.

Here's a couple to start you off

This is the group who developed the epilepsy test for Lagattos. I am proud to say my own breed club members submitted some 50 plus samples this autumn towards their epilepsy research, with more coming via our pet purchasers.

Anonymous said...

As a CKCS breeder I am anything but 'in the shadows'. My dogs are all heart, eye,patella,and MRI screened and all this data plus their DNA is with the researchers. In fact two of mine are participating in international studies.
All this information is freely available on my website.

If signing in as Anon in some way detracts from my credibility then I can only apologise - 'once bitten - twice shy' as they say.
Last time I set about pointing out that not all breeders are the same, I was treated to nasty
"Oh methinks she complains too much" stuff.
I just wanted to lodge a plea to Ms Harrison to avoid damning us all in one fell swoop because not only are the public not buying from untested stock - they're not buying from anyone now unless it's a 'healthy' (read untested) crossbreed.

Anonymous said...

Oh and Beverley,
Again from the same anon...

No where in my post did I state that my Cavaliers don't have heart,eye or SM problems.....
("An anonymous - if you are breeding Cavaliers without any heart problems, eye problems or SM - step out of those shadows and reveal yourself!)
.....I only said that I had tested for them and at this moment in time, none of them have any signs of these conditions.
So I don't know if I'll have future problems and until genetic testing come on-line, all I can say is - I've done my best.