KC member Vince goes viral

Do you remember that black and white Guardian TV commercial that showed a man running after a woman, from one angle he looked like a criminal from another he looked like a hero?

Please read this article from this Saturday's Times.
Ask yourself - is the person writing being anti-pedigree dog or are they motivated by wanting to save dogs from future suffering?

Kennel Club's resistance may indicate we can't teach an old dog new tricks

The day after Pedigree Dogs Exposed was broadcast last August, I received an e-mail from a senior official at the Kennel Club. It read: “I just hope you will sleep soundly knowing that you have done nothing to progress the health of dogs.” Others accused us of sensationalism and bias. “Here’s a noose . . . go hang yourself,” wrote one German shepherd breeder on a forum. “If I ever meet you, I will shoot you,” wrote another.

Some people accused of us of withholding medication so that the epileptic boxer dog featured in the film would have seizures on cue for the camera. Yet we also received hundreds of phone calls, letters and e-mails of support, including many from individuals involved with the pedigree dog show world. They felt that the film was badly needed and would be a catalyst for change.

Pedigree Dogs Exposed was not an easy film to make and one of the biggest hurdles was persuading people to speak out. Much of the media coverage since then has been critical of the Kennel Club, which in turn criticised the “journalist mafia”. But the public simply recognises the truth of the film’s central claims — that inbreeding and breeding for beauty was damaging the dogs, and not enough was being done to address it. The question is, can you really teach an old dog new tricks?

There are signs that the Kennel Club is resistant to reform. In an interview with Dog World two weeks ago its secretary, Caroline Kisko, divulged that the organisation had banned canine mother and son, and brother and sister, matings “for PR reasons”. The truth is that the Kennel Club continues to dispute that the mating of close relatives is a problem, despite scientific evidence.

It has postponed plans for tackling the critical issue of genetic diversity. The Kennel Club has claimed recently that it is working with Imperial College London to address the issue. But Imperial College researchers confirmed this week that they have not heard from the Kennel Club since last September. It was also surprising to see a recent Kennel Club press release citing the support of Roger Mugford, an animal behaviourist. In it, Dr Mugford claims that selection for the show-ring has resulted in a marked improvement in the temperament of pedigree dogs. But he can produce no data to support this. The truth is that there is no scientific evidence to suggest this is the case. Equally, there have been some encouraging signs from the Kennel Club’s headquarters in Central London. It has stepped up training for judges — and bravely taken on some of the breeding clubs that are resisting change.

So which is it to be? The Kennel Club that still resists mandatory health testing for dogs, and frets about the “outside interference that plagues us” (as Ronnie Irving, the chairman, wrote recently)? Or one that recognises that everyone who cares for pedigree dogs has a right to a view on how we safeguard their future?

For the greatest dog show on earth is not taking place at the NEC next week. It is playing out on our farms, in our fields, on our streets and in our homes. It’s found in the border collie’s exquisite skill at moving sheep; in the bloodhound’s astonishing ability to track a week-old scent, in the consummate way a German Shepherd helps police a riot, in how a cavalier king charles spaniel curls up in the crook of your arm and chases away loneliness. This is pedigree dogs’ true beauty. And it cannot be judged in a ring at Crufts.

Written by Jemima Harrison is a producer at Passionate Productions, which made Pedigree Dogs Exposed

In summary, the piece contains a number of new pieces of information.

  • The incest ban at the KC was a PR stunt.
  • The KC still don't accept that close mating should cause breeders health concerns.
  • Despite telling the world they're on the case of researching this issue, they haven't even talked to the experts at Imperial about researching inbreeding since September!

So who is acting against the interests of pedigree dogs. Is it Jemima for exposing the problems or is it the KC for not doing enough to solve them?

Would reading this article have inspired you to email everyone you know to complain about Jemima?

Vince Hogan, KC member and boss at weekly show dog paper Our Dogs found time this weekend to send emails to a huge number of people to urge them to contact the Times and put "their side".

Here's the email..


A call to fellow Pedigree Dog Owners.
Jemima Harrison is at it again. Go to the Times online.
..........look at this and reply if you can....with OUR SIDE!
That's if you agree there is another viewpoint.....you wouldn't think it if you read the British press!
I want to get as many dog people emailing the Times (or any other paper for that matter) with our side...I am fed up of people just printing the narrow, one sided, cleverly edited or written opinions of Jemima, or Beverley Cuddy or whoever.
Why do the British Press only seem to think that Jemima Harrison's opinion and dubious programme are correct?
Up until last August, no one had even heard of Jemima Harrison and now she gives the impression of being the crusader for pedigree dogs.
She has every right to her opinion, but it should not count for any more that yours or mine....but will we be asked?
Why do the general press turn to these people in their hour of need of a dog knocking article?
We all know we live in an age of sound bites...the more controversial the better and Jemima and Beverley turn up trumps every time.
No one seems to mention the hundreds of thousands of happy dogs and caring owners that have existed happily side by side for years.
In every walk of life, there will always be people who bring the rest of their hobby or pursuit into disrepute. But, for example, just because some athletes take drugs, it does not mean all athletes are cheats and the Olympics should be stopped , or whatever.
The same logic applies to dog breeders...some bad, a lot good, some fantastic! Jemima and those like her have to accept that we all have a right to enjoy superb events like Crufts, where dogs can be seen having a good time with their caring owners. It's a place where many will be learning about health issues, training, nutrition, and many aspects of caring dog ownership...yet these people knock it all the time, and of course are unlikely to attend to see the reality.
WE NEED TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED. Please pass this on if you agree.....please write to these other papers as well as letters to the Editor at OUR DOGS.
Vince Hogan
Editor in Chief
PS: Ironically I own a Boxer, bred by a caring breeder. The dog does not have fits and has been very healthy from the day it was born.
I am sure we're all delighted for Vince that his Boxer is healthy, it's what we'd all wish for all dogs. Sadly, as Vince must know, lots of Boxers have terrible heart problems and a dramatically increased risk of cancer - never mind epilepsy.
Why would Our Dogs choose to put itself on the opposite side to health reform and allege that to call for improvement is somehow to be anti-pedigree dogs?
And as a matter of accuracy, I've re-read Jemima's article several times and so far as I can see my name isn't mentioned anywhere - so why am I mentioned in Vince's email?
Is it his way of discouraging people from reading Jemima's article with an open mind? Is he saying it's only going to be nasty people like Jemima and I that have any problem with the KC's lack of meaningful action on inbreeding?
If you would like to comment on the Times article with what you think click here... unlike Vince I won't be telling you what to say!
After a load of Vince's mates were coached to post stuff that doesn't even try to relate to the article, there comes a really simple remark from someone called Mark in Selkirk.
"About time someone looked after man's best friend because the club think they know better than the scientists."
I'm guessing he's the only one that actually read the article!

This morning I had Vince on the phone and we had a lively exchange for some minutes. He dared me to print this email from him, so never being one to back down from a challenge here it is, in full.

BC..just in case you didn’t see the letter I wrote to people, here it is...as you can see, I clearly said:

That's if you agree there is another viewpoint.....you wouldn’t think it if you read the British press!

that means:


I would like to ask you to correct your incorrect assumptions on your blog please...if you have a fair mind. Your blog is no different to me writing a letter, we are sharing our views, and IF people agree, then fair enough.
Could your blog not be described as coaching in the same way? You are forcing your views on people on a daily basis.

Be fair for a change.

You have to agree that both you and Jemima get an inordinate amount of coverage, so it’s only fair that people with differing opinions to you get a chance..that’s all...we have both discussed this before. That's why you were mentioned..... I am not just limiting myself to this one article. E.G. The Independent the other day..who gets quoted? You do.

BC in her blog says: Why would Our Dogs choose to put itself on the opposite side to health reform and allege that to call for improvement is somehow to be anti-pedigree dogs? We haven’t: we just want a balanced debate....you know that as well as I do.

BEVERLEY THIS IS SO WRONG...how dare you make such an assumption?
As I said in my letter this weekend:
“We all know we live in an age of sound bites...the more controversial the better and Jemima and Beverley turn up trumps every time.”

and you immediately do the same thing again! You can’t resist!

I challenge you to have the guts to put all of this email on your blog, so your readers can see there are decent caring people, who take care of their dogs, that simply have a different view to you.
You and Jemima are very clever at promoting just one line of the discussion.
I, and more importantly many others (breeders, etc), are happy and willing to have genuine health issues sorted out, but your constant carping isn’t helping anyone. Try and be a bit more positive in life.

Look at some of the responses from the ‘other side’...are you being fair to them?

Yet again, she just doesn't get it.!! I love my dogs, I breed dogs and I show dogs, they are part of our family and I am just as proud of my dogs as I am my children? My dogs love to be in the ring, they love to meet other dogs, play have fun, what is wrong with that???
Helen Abbott, Evesham, UK
"Power without responsibility" once again Jemima!
Teresa, Shrewsbury,
Thoughts from the other side of the pond are, this is nothing but pure sensational. PDE has done not much good for purebred dogs. Some breeds do need some changes, I give them that, but what this program has done is nothing short of destroying a lot of breeds,nothing was gained but everything lost
L. Boettger, Toronto, Canada
Jemima please would you go to epupz and look up the the basset/shar pei cross - the most cruel and hideous cross i have ever seen --- advertised as healthier than bassets and shar peis. This is what your influence is creating. No health screening (I have enquired) and no accountability.
Rosemary, Surrey,
This program was so slanted towards sensationalism and away from factual scientific proof as to be nothing but a media charade. Unfortunately it has tarred all the responsible caring breeders with the same brush as the ones that Ms Harrison found...the few bad apples among the bushels of good ones.
susan shoemaker, la habra hts california, usa
You have said that the Boxer and CKCS you showed on your programme were not bred by show people, yet you blame their problems soley on show breeders, you have not mentioned the great lengths that a lot of show people go to to health test their breeding stock.
S Pirrie, Calne, Wilts
I am a responsible breeder. My dogs are health tested and extremely happy. First and foremost is their well being. I am getting rather tried and so I gather are others too of Jemima Harrison's incorrect details and tarring all breeders with the same brush. How about attacking the puppy farmers!
Jocelynne Cyprien, Llangollen, Wales
Why do you continue to discredit the work that the MANY GREAT BREEDERS AND SHOW ENTHUSIASTS are doing here in the UK! I am so tired of hearing that 'breeding for looks and ribbons' has been the ruination of the purebred dog. The show world has pushed for scientific advances for decades.
dirk reading,Exeter,
The presence of some irresponsible people breeding dogs does not mean that we all are. Genuine breeders always health test their dogs & their main concern is their welfare. Jemima's comments about my breed (ridgebacks) was wrong - they DO NOT have a form of spina bifida - research is available.
Lydia Cooper, Newry, Northern Ireland
It is a shame that all breeders are often lumped together - Dr Rusbridge's Syringomyelia research is supported by so many dedicated, caring breeders which is why she continues to help them unfunded. Unfortunately these efforts are undermined if some do not follow the recommended breeding guidelines.
Penny Knowler, Glasgow,
Sadly this woman is just promoting herself yet again. Go to Crufts, see for yourself, speak to the owners of the dogs - these dogs are much loved family pets who have a hobby - they go to dog shows and have fun. Please do not despise pedigree dog owners and breeders on the say so of one woman.
E Everest, Kent, England
In summary, what I was saying back at the beginning of this VERY long blog is that really we shouldn't have sides. Having read Jemima's article everyone who loves dogs should be equally disappointed by the lack of action of COI and that the KC has been caught out yet again attempting to spin their way out of a tight spot rather than making sincere and sensible reforms. That by encouraging a 'them and us' Vince wasn't helping the image of progressive dog breeders.


Badger said…
How bizarre... I did not think there was anything wrong or offensive to breeders in the Times article.

It seems quite clear to me - the Kennel Club need to make rules and regs and breeders need to follow them. Yes there are many good breeders that already do follow them, and that is great, they should be pleased that the 'bad' breeders will get scrubbed out or have to change.

No one is attacking the good breeders, they are simply requesting the KC stop making breeding a free for all - why can't people see that, everyone seems very defensive. When a person buys a dog that is KC registered - people think it stands for something, people think it is a sign of quality - so why don' the KC make it so.

Good breeders have nothing to worry about. I don't see what they are so afraid of.

I also have a boxer - it was born with a heart problem and could die at any point. But nevermind just so long as Vince has a healthy one - phew!

Anonymous said…
It's so weird what that editor of Dogs World says. What is he going on about when he mentions clever editing and dubious views? Jemima's views are perfectly clear and straightforward - she is against inbreeding and against breeding for beauty, saying it affects dogs' health, and has the backing of geneticists.
She also makes it clear she is passionate about dogs.
I agree with badger, good breeders have nothing to fear.
Julia L
Anonymous said…
"In every walk of life, there will always be people who bring the rest of their hobby or pursuit into disrepute"

While trying to get breeders to realise the seriousness of the inherited health problems in my breed I was so often dismissed with " I just want to enjoy a day out with my dogs, this is my hobby"

The problem is that with most hobbies people use instruments or props such as golf clubs or model aeroplanes.

When using living, breathing, feeling animals of any species for a sport or pursuit the owners desire to win can have a very detrimental effect on the animals quality of life.

Responsible breeders will take the results, both good & bad, from health results and add them to the balancing act that has to be done when breeding for health & beauty. Ambitious breeders make their task simpler by cutting out the testing, or ignoring unwelcome results, and just concentrating on the show beauty side.

In many of the commercially successful toy breeds there are lots of breeders that do health test & they all get hurt when lumped in with uncaring breeders. Time & time again I read indignant comments that say "I do all the tests and my dog is healthy" but very few, if any, are from breeders who dominate in the show ring or any one who produces more than one or two litters a year.

If only concerned breeders would look at the wider picture, instead of taking criticism of poor dog breeding practices as if they are directed at them personally.

I applaud everyone that puts the health & welfare of their dogs first but my experience of working as a health representative over a number of years has shown me that a few individuals' personal efforts cannot save a breed if others refuse to accept there is a problem.

Margaret Carter
Anonymous said…
Julia L - please note the email was from Vince Hogan from OUR DOGS, not Dog World!!!!
Anonymous said…
Sorry, I meant the editor of Dogs World!!! Re-reading what he says, it strikes me as quite demented. Why do people like him insist on interpreting Jemima and Beverley's views in such a strange way, when they are in fact the views of most ordinary dog owners.
Julia L
Anonymous said…
The lowest form of disparagement is to say the opposition is being clever. It somehow discredits or tries to invalidate an argument without bothering to rebut the content.
Unknown said…
Thanks for blogging about this. I thought the article from Jemima was brilliant. Can anyone tell me if there is a trick to posting a "Times" comment? I've tried twice and both have evaporated.
Anonymous said…
Ronnie Irving said in this months issue of the kennel gazette there must be no further erosion of genetic Diversity How does he propose to do this without the use of Cois to help breeders in their mating decisions,far in excess of father daughter cois, have just been browsing tha Havanese database, i know this is a rare breed but COis of somme 88% plus
Mine is a large population breed cois of 30% plus are the norm, it makes no logical sense for the Kc to ban father daughter mating but accept matings with Cois of way over father daughter inbreeding levels, unless of course they have no intention ever of implementing the third phase of their Health Plan very disapointing for the breeders who do have concerns for the overall health of their breed
Anonymous said…
ANIMAL behaviourist Dr Roger Mugford believes that dog shows have a beneficial effect on dogs’ temperaments.
Speaking after the BBC withdrew its coverage of Crufts, he said the Kennel Club represented the best interests of all dog owners and was a ‘consistent defender’ of dogs’ positive role in society.
Dr Mugford, who is managing director of the Company of Animals, has accumulated 25 years of data studying the behaviour and temperament of pedigree and non-pedigree dogs.
“It is sometimes said that show judges place more emphasis on beauty or anatomical features than on behavioural aspects which ultimately are more important to pet owners and for society,” he said.
“But my data shows remarkably little difference between breeds in terms of their liability for referral for behavioural problems, specifically aggressive behaviour.”
The incidence of fear-based and threatening behaviour towards strangers on the benches of shows such as Crufts has reduced markedly, he said.
“These behaviours are the main basis of complaints about dogs behaving dangerously in society,” he said.
“I firmly believe that this is because there has been a marked behavioural selection by show judges in favour of tolerance of handling by strangers, transport to and from shows, confinement such as tethering and holding on show benches and especially the presence of many hundreds, sometimes thousands, of strange dogs and people.
“The institution of dog shows such as Crufts has an overall beneficial effect on the selection of better character or temperament in dogs.
“It is not true, as is sometimes argued, that mongrels or randomly-mated dogs are better behaved or problem-free compared to their pedigree counterparts.
“Dogs in Britain and throughout the FCI-affiliated countries of the world need to be constantly selected for the companionable qualities of friendliness towards people, tolerance of strange dogs and confidence in strange, potentially stressful or fear-evoking situations.”
Dr Mugford and his team will be attending Crufts.
“We wholeheartedly endorse the KC’s continuing policy to improve both the physical and the behavioural state of dogs in Britain,” he said.
“I believe the KC represents the best interest of all dog owners, show, pedigree or non-pedigree pets. At a time when so many unwarranted restrictions and negative media coverage of dogs abound, I believe the KC has been a consistent defender of the positive role of dogs in society.”


Dr Mugford is critical of the organisations which have decided to abandon Crufts and other KC shows.
“The science of canine genetics and the distribution of heritable defects in different breeds of dogs were as well known 25 years ago as today,” he said.
“Thankfully, pedigree dogs are not ‘crippled mutants,’ as has been stated, and the great majority present superb behavioural characteristics, making the contemporary dog better suited to the important role of family pet than in previous times.
“Without behavioural selection at dog shows I predict there will be a deterioration in the overall temperament of our dogs.” Hi Fluffy, Dr R comment were covered in DW, but then again JH does not like anyone to disagree with her does she?!?! but then again I see that even she has decided that many of her "so" called facts were too dodgy to include in the other version of PDE show in other countries. By teh way not sure what you have been doing on a common and with who, but can assure you not me!!! and as for what your post man has been saying about your slippers........well villages do like to gossip!!!, think its about time you also give up on your conspiracy theroy of me in Clarges street, its just not true....... well off to Crufts to see those thousand and thousand happy healthy dogs........wonder if Mark Evan would like to go and see his fiorst dog show and back up some of his claims!!!! Sirius
Anonymous said…
Vince has emailed:

Dear BC
Found time to read your daily issue on your blog...........
thanks for putting the piece in...even though you still had to have the last word...
and of course all your followers (8 so far) have written in saying I’m demented etc...

What a pity they can’t read, as they appear to have me down as the Editor of DOG WORLD,

even when it gets pointed out again.....

Anonymous said...

Julia L - please note the email was from Vince Hogan from OUR DOGS, not Dog World!!!!
01 March 2009 18:21
Sorry, I meant the editor of Dogs World!!! Re-reading what he says, it strikes me as quite demented. Why do people like him insist on interpreting Jemima and Beverley's views in such a strange way, when they are in fact the views of most ordinary dog owners.
Julia L
hey ho..........yet the well informed JULIA L says in a sweeping statement that my views are ‘demented’,
how fantastic that Julia can’t read, yet can be in touch with the millions of ordinary dog owners to then make such a statement.
Did she not read all the comments sent to The Times by other dog people, not just me.

Let me have her address and I’ll send her a free copy of OUR DOGS (world!)


QUESTION: why do you have to head it KC member Vince etc.... ?

I could (but haven’t) put DISGRUNTLED EX KC STAFF MEMBER BEVERLEY.....


answer: ‘cos you can’t resist the one line stab...... J

On the question of sides, I think that was set off by PDE which polarised people from the off, so don’t lay that one at my door!!
This is like the Mousetrap......................it’ll run and run.

Best Wishes,

Vince. ( or should I say, ‘viral and demented of Manchester’)

PS: to save anyone the trouble of emailing you............ J

I would also draw your attention to the March 6th issue of OUR DOGS where we report on the front cover, a new group of dog breeders who are standing up for themselves in the face of this constant criticism.
(nothing to do with me...no coaching took place.......... these people have views of their own)
Beverley Cuddy said…
Jemima has emailed the following comment in reply to Sirius posting as anonymous:

“A documentary-hour on the BBC is 59 minutes long because there are no adverts. For international delivery, however, the maximum length is 52 minutes – hence why some things in the original are missing in the international version. We did also take the opportunity to correct/clarify two points. The first was to say that the ridge in the rhodesian ridgeback is associated with a mild form of spina bifida (the original commentary wrongly said “the ridge in the rhodesian ridgeback is a mild form of spina bifida.” ) And we also clarified that Zak the boxer has his epileptic (cluster) seizures once a month as some viewers thought he fitted like this all the time.”

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