Awakenings around the world of dogs
Last night approx four million people watched ABC Nightline (the US equivalent of our Newsnight) featuring an item on dog showing, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the AKC etc. And for fans of the wonderful Terrierman blog, see a 3d Patrick Burns in action - too!
Good item. Does make everything so simple.
The woman who bred her Dalmatian with a partially deaf one because it was a really good specimen.... Doh!
Take a step back and the answers are obvious.
Next week an abridged Pedigree Dogs Exposed airs in New Zealand. The NZKC is already spinning away in preparation...
But a look at their web site makes it difficult to discover what health initiatives they have taken to remove the threat of inbreeding, exaggeration and hereditary problems from the NZ pedigree dog population.
New Zealand Kennel Club has discovered that TVNZ's Sunday programme is planning to screen the BBC programme 'Pedigree Dogs Exposed' this weekend, 15 March at 7.30pm. The programme attracted widespread criticism when originally screened in Britain in August 2008, for being extreme, alarmist, and lacking fair balance.
TVNZ intends to screen about 22 minutes of the original programme. It is not known what they will omit and whether any of the comment from The Kennel Club (UK) will be retained. When screened the programme may well give the impression that it represents New Zealand conditions: nothing could be less accurate.
However, it doesn't take much to discover their accreditation programme for people who are not vets who want to chop tails off. Their policy statement on electric collars - they are pro-choice. Their policy decision on debarking - they are pro-choice. Their policy on secrecy - they are pro-secrecy!
By the sounds of it, it is true PDE doesn't represent the NZ situation - could this be the only country in the world with a worse KC than ours? Wow!
And now for some good news, in the current Veterinary Record (the publication of the British Veterinary Association), March 7, 2009 there is the following uplifting editorial...
It may have been controversial, and the
issues highlighted may not have been new.
but the programme 'Pedigree Dogs Exposed'
broadcast on BBC last August has certainly
stimulated interest in tackling some of
the inherited animal welfare problems
associated with the selective breeding of dogs.
Subsequent developments have included a
revision of breed standards by the Kennel
Club, and the initiation of various reviews
into the welfare aspects of dog breeding. The
ramifications continue, and the topic will
no doubt be the subject of much discussion
among those attending Crufts this week.
Among other things, this year's event will
include a dedicated 'health zone', at which
vets and scientists will be on hand to discuss
some of the means available for reducing the
risks of inherited defects in dogs. Crufts itself
will not be broadcast by the BBC this year,
as the Corporation decided to suspend its
coverage of the event in the light of some of
the issues raised by the programme.
The BVA has called for an independent
review of the breeding of all dogs, not just
pedigrees, and for all registered pedigree dogs
to be permanently identified (VR, November
8, W08, vol163, p 553). Earlier this week,
it welcomed news that the chairmen of a
review of breeding being undertaken by the
Associated Parliamentary Group on Animal
Welfare and of an independent review
commissioned by the Kennel Club and Dogs
Trust have agreed to collaborate on the
grounds that this will add weight to the case
for action (see p 286 of this issue).
The current level of interest presents an
ideal opportunity to make progress in tackling
hereditary defects in dogs. However, this will
be a long and difficult process requiring the
active collaboration of everyone involved.
Some of the challenges have been highlighted
in recent reports from the Companion
Animal Welfare Council (VR, December
6, 2008. Vol 263, p 669). Given the nature
of the task, the BVA feels it is important
that the reviews currently under way should
consider solutions that would benefit the
health and welfare of dogs in the long term.
These include permanent identification,
accreditation schemes, genetic testing and
better use of the Animal Welfare Act.
The BVA believes that secondary
legislation could be put in place under the
Animal Welfare Act to protect the health
and welfare of potential offspring produced
as a result of breeding from dogs with known
hereditary defects. It further believes that
guidelines being developed under the animal
welfare code for dogs could he amended to
include a recommendation against mating
closely related dogs and restricting the
number of puppies an individual stud dog can
sire. As well as making best use of the legal
means available for restricting inappropriate
breeding, it believes that there is scope for
progress through voluntary mechanisms such
as breeder accreditation schemes.
As with any other measures aimed at
improving animal health and welfare, it is
important to he able to relate any actions
to the animals concerned. Permanent
identification of all registered pedigree dogs
would facilitate the reporting of hereditary
health problems and of surgical procedures
resulting in conformational changes. In
addition, the introduction of a 'pet passport'
database, linked to an identification
microchip, would allow information such as
parentage, DNA and health test results to be
known for a particular animal.
To introduce breeding programmes
which control hereditary defects without
eliminating desirable traits, it will be
necessary to isolate the specific genetic
mutation(s) responsible. Funding will
be required to create DNA databases of
affected and unaffected animals and for the
development of appropriate tests.
The BVA believes that breed standards
should be based primarily on health and
temperament, with less emphasis on the
conformation of the dog. While welcoming a
commitment from the Kennel Club to review
all breed standards in consultation with the
veterinary profession, it believes that, in
addition, an independent expert advisory
group should be formed to review and advise
on the way forward on a case-by-case basis.
Vets see the impact of inbreeding on
a daily basis in practices across the UK.
Consultations provide an opportunity to
advise clients but, unless veterinary advice is
sought before animals are purchased, options
are limited to reactive advice and treatment.
Methods to enable owners to make more
informed choices before they purchase their
animals need to be investigated.
Advances in genetics, diagnostic tests
and information technology, combined
with the current leveI of interest, present
unprecedented opportunities for tackling
inherited welfare problems in dogs. The
current level of interest in the subject makes
it all the more important that these are used
to best effect.