Monday, 23 November 2009

Dogs on the red carpet...

News just in...

Winners of the Fido Awards presented in association with Dogs Trust and honouring canine cinematic excellence were announced today at the prestigious ceremony at BFI Southbank. The full list of winners is as follows:

HISTORICAL HOUND (for period drama excellence)  The Young Victoria
ROM-COM ROVER (for romantic-comedy companionship) Marley and Me
COMEDY CANINE (for outstanding comedic contribution) Beverly Hills Chihuahua
BLOCKBUSTER BOWSER (for event-movie performance) Up
MUTT MOMENT (for stand-out cinematic canine moment) Fish Tank
BEST IN WORLD (for best of the best)     The Young Victoria
DOGS TRUST STAR OF TOMORROW     Paddy


Have to say I'm delighted to see Disney Pixar animated film Up! mentioned. The wonderful British-born behaviourist guru Dr Ian Dunbar was the canine consultant on that movie and if certainly showed. Brilliant!

Hounds for Heroes has a heroine!

Every now and again my mobile rings and it's lovely Allen Parton with exciting news. Allen and EJ were on the Labrador rescue stand at Discover Dogs and he says he met lots of lovely Dogs Today readers and had a really fun time.
Many asked him about his new venture Hounds for Heroes and how things were progressing. Allen remembers explaining to one lady how difficult it is to start a new charity as the charity commission wants you to have £5,000 before you can start.
He recalled that the lady had listened very intently.
Anyway, Allen's call today was to say he'd just opened his post and that same lady had sent him a cheque for £5,000!
Isn't that wonderful.
On a sadder note, Allen told me his wonderful wife Sandra is quite poorly and is having to take things  easier than usual until she goes in for an op. But getting busy people to slow down is very tricky. She's already put her surgery off once as she didn't want to miss an important date in the Canine Partners calendar. Sandra is their Puppy Operation's manager - but it sounds like she needs a Human Operation's Manager to get her to slow down and get well.
We all hope Sandra starts feeling better soon and is getting a lot of pampering from Allen and the dogs.
Allen very mischievously says he's now in danger of becoming addicted to watching lunchtime soap Doctor's now Sandra is at home during the day. (I used to like watching that when I was working from home - was always good to eat my lunch in front of! I bet Allen was secretly tuning in already...!)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Pets at Home and PJs in the office!

Sorry for the blog inaction! Just back from a trip up north to meet with the folk at Pets At Home. I have to say it was a memorable meeting in many ways. It was Children in Need Day and many of the staff were wearing Pjs - including the MD - what a good sport. Wish we'd known - felt a bit out of place with my business suit on! I've got some very fetching Scottie PJs - on offer at La Senza if they appeal to others - very warm they are!
And they didn't just take their dogs into work - they had reptiles and fish, too and even a baby!
Really lovely meeting and then Graham and I had an afternoon looking around Chester which I had very positive childhood memories of.
Very rare for me to venture far for a meeting, but what a memorable outing!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Nervous Lady lost in Milton Keynes


Choc & Tan Cocker Spaniel
3-4 Years Old Female
PLEASE DO NOT APPROACH
Missing in the Monkston, Milton Keynes
MK10, Bucks area since Tuesday
10th November 2009 SPAYED & CHIPPED
RESCUE DOG AND VERY NERVOUS. PLEASE DO
NOT APPROACH IF SIGHTED PLEASE CONTACT
A NUMBER BELOW & LEAVE CONTACT DETAILS
07835160111 or 07898133009
07733001165 or 01670 7604346
07918127590
Do you have any information on the whereabouts of this dog? Call DogLost in the strictest
confidence on 0844 800 3220 quoting 20673

Friday, 13 November 2009

Bruce latest



Bruce, a family pet kept on ‘canine death row’  has been held since seized from his family in September 2007 for looking the wrong shape and size as outlawed under breed specific legislation in Northern Ireland. Now top vet Professor Bill Reilly has spoken out against the legislation and urged a rethink on the Government’s position.

For Bruce a staggering two years has passed while his legal case is ongoing even though he has never put a paw wrong in his life and he’s not alone in this legal nightmare where life hangs in the balance and Bruce and others are confined to a concrete cell and cruelly denied the family homes they once knew.  This surely cannot be the actions of a civilized society when in fact it is irresponsible and uneducated breeders and owners who are the problem, not breeds or ‘types’ of dogs?

The annual BVA North of Ireland Dinner held at the Parliament Buildings in Stomont, Northern Ireland took place on the 29th October 2009, addressing the Dinner was the recently newly appointed  President of the BVA; Professor Bill Reilly.

Speaking before guests including the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture & Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, Jim Nicholson MEP and several other politicians as well as veterinary professionals, Bill Reilly covered several “core topics” including that of breed specific legislation (BSL).

A copy of the full speech can be found on the BVA web site, in relation to BSL, Professor Reilly said:

“Dogs are also hitting the headlines through the recent announcement of new control measures. I was shocked to read that one third of all dogs destroyed in the UK are in Northern Ireland – clearly the dual problems of dangerous and stray dogs are an enormous drain on your resources.

We welcome your commitment to promoting responsible pet ownership, but we are disappointed with the proposal to retain breed-specific legislation.

The manner in which a dog behaves is both a result of its inherited characteristics and, more importantly, the rearing and training provided by its owner.

We know that aggression is a normal behaviour and can be shown by any dog of any breed, type or mixed breeding. Breed-specific legislation therefore engenders a false and dangerous perception that breeds not banned will not show aggression.

I would urge the Minister to rethink her position on this issue and shift the focus of control to ‘deed not breed’, alongside a concerted campaign to promote responsible pet ownership.“

Minister Michelle Gildernew has given a written response to the BVA President’s speech at the BVA Dinner and in relation to the comments on BSL has stated:

“I note your comments on my proposals for dog control legislation and in particular on the issue of breed specific legislation. Subject to Executive approval, I plan to begin consultation in November on my proposals. I will ensure that the BVA receives a copy of the consultation document and I would clearly value the Association's input on my full proposals at that stage.”

It is heartening to hear that the leader of the BVA has spoken out against breed specific legislation and has urged the Minister to rethink her position on this issue.

Breed bans do simply not work and are costing millions of pounds to implement whilst failing dismally to protect the public whilst innocent adult dogs and puppies are being held in kennels at huge public expense awaiting court hearings to determine their fate with a tape measure or being automatically put to death and all based solely on their appearance.

Please support the President of the BVA and write to Minister Gildernew and urge her to repeal breed specific legislation in Northern Ireland and to spare the life of Bruce and other family pets currently caught up in this unjust and unworkable legal nightmare:

  • Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (DARD):
Email:dardhelpline@dardni.gov.ie  & private.office@dardni.gov.uk
  • Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development - Michelle Gildernew, MP MLA:
Email:Michelle.Gildernew@sinn-fein.ie 
  • British Veterinary Association - Presidents Office:
presidentsoffice@bva.co.uk



Further details at www.endangereddogs.com/BruceAppeal.htm 

Food for thought

In today's Guardian a big plug for indie petfood label Lily's kitchen... well done!!! Click here for the full story. Fascinating piece though on a number of levels.

Henrietta Morrison confidently plunges her spoon into a tin of slow-cooked lamb hotpot and lifts out a mouthful for inspection. She passes her nostrils over the meat chunks and accompanying sauce, smiles, then places the whole lot into her mouth. "Delicious," she remarks, as a small crowd of onlookers gathers round to watch the spectacle.
Someone eating their lunch doesn't usually elicit such attention, but, then again, most people aren't prepared to tuck into a tin of dog food for sustenance. Morrison has a point to prove, though: she is at Europe's largest pet trade show, PetIndex, at the Birmingham NEC, and her company, Lily's Kitchen, sells the most expensive pet food on the market. Her dog food, for example, retails in places such as Harrods for more than £2 a tin, with the promise that the contents are "proper food".
A quick inspection of the ingredients ("organic and certified holistic") shows why Morrison is prepared to put her pet food where her mouth is. Lamb ("60%"), rice, pearl barley, broccoli, spinach, blueberries, flaxseed, marigold petals, burdock root and alfalfa are just some of the ingredients contained within a tin of slow-cooked lamb hotpot. It really does look and sound good enough to eat – that's the whole point.
"I eat my pet food regularly to test batches," says Morrison. "My personal favourite is goose and duck feast with fruits, but chicken and turkey casserole is our bestseller."
Lily's Kitchen and its range of anthropomorphised pet "recipes" represent the somewhat rarefied summit of the UK's pet food industry, which is now said to be worth close to £2bn a year. Just like us humans, the nation's 8 million dogs and 8 million cats – as well as our collective menagerie of rabbits, horses, lizards, tropical fish et al – consume a wide variety of foodstuffs. In recent years, and despite the economic downturn, the pet food industry has witnessed a move towards "premium products", but the market is still dominated by products made with ingredients that, frankly, can send a shudder down any owner's spine. "Hydrolysed feather meal", "derivatives of vegetable origin", "ash" and "animal derivatives" are just some of the delights routinely found in pet food.
The industry has been the recipient of both jibes and brickbats about the true origin of its ingredients for decades. Horse meat, whale, kangaroo – before strict legislation tightened up the rules following the BSE scandal, we were used to hearing all sorts of hypotheses and rumours. But now it faces a new source of criticism: just what is the environmental impact of feeding the huge quantity of "companion" animals around the world? A new book with the somewhat provocative title of Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living has triggered a highly charged debate about the environmental efficacy of our pet-owning habits. If we are to examine the environmental impacts of all our lifestyle choices, the book argues, then we must also include pets in the discussion, no matter how unsettling the answers. The various environmental impacts attributed to the human food chain are well documented, so isn't it right, for example, that we should now be questioning whether it is sensible to be feeding slow-cooked lamb hotpot to our dogs, too?
The New Scientist, in a recent editorial entitled "Cute, fluffy and horribly greedy", largely agreed with the book's findings that some pets, due to the food they eat, have a surprisingly high "ecological footprint" (a way of quantifying human demand on the planet's ecosystems using a measure called "global hectares"). "According to the authors . . . it takes 0.84 hectares [2.07 acres] of land to keep a medium-sized dog fed. In contrast, running a 4.6-litre Toyota Land Cruiser, including the energy required to construct the thing and drive it 10,000km a year, requires 0.41 hectares. Dogs are not the only environmental sinners. The eco-footprint of a cat equates to that of a Volkswagen Golf. If that's troubling, there is an even more shocking comparison. In 2004, the average citizen of Vietnam had an ecological footprint of 0.76 hectares. For an Ethiopian, it was just 0.67 hectares. In a world where scarce resources are already hogged by the rich, can we really justify keeping pets that take more than some people?"
Speaking from his university office in Christchurch, New Zealand, Robert Vale, who co-wrote the book with his partner Brenda Vale, admits that he has received a "few unpleasant emails" from irate pet owners since the New Scientist article was published, but insists that he still stands by his central point. "We need to know what we're doing when it comes to the environment," he says. "We can't go blind into this debate. Nothing should be off limits no matter how uncomfortable it is to discuss it. Human population growth is a huge issue, too. We have to recognise that we live in a world of finite resources."
Vale says he was "genuinely surprised" when calculating quite how large the environmental impact was of some of our most popular pet species. "Of all the areas we researched for the book, the subject of pets was by far the biggest surprise for us. But all we are arguing in the book is that we should be making sensible, informed choices. For example, it's not really going to be that much of a problem if you have a big dog but also take the bus everywhere, never fly and live in a small home. It's when everyone starts to have a big car, big house, big family and a big dog that the problems start."
Vale does not – as some of his critics seem to assume – advocate a mass cull of the world's pets. But some of his proposed solutions are still likely to shock some pet owners. For example, the book suggests catching vermin such as rats and processing them into a "natural" cat food. Equally, the book proposes a return to the days when families would – hence the book's title – have edible pets. For example, a pair of rabbits would be kept as pets and their offspring would be eaten. It's hard to see that one gaining much traction.
When feeding a pet, however, the advice is to "think feathers and long ears, not horns and fins". In other words, favour pet foods made from chicken and rabbit meat and avoid those containing red meat and fish which, by comparison, have a much higher environmental impact. Last and, perhaps, most obvious: the smaller the pet, the better.
Back among the avenues of stalls at the PetIndex show, vendors jostle for attention with their impressive and sometimes baffling range of pet foods and accessories. One woman proudly tells me why her pet food containing yucca extract makes "her dog's poo stink less".
Another tells me why, when you use her hair-grooming tool, you must aim to "never expose a dog's testicles". Two saleswomen from Shanghai try to explain to me the fashion vagaries of doggie handbags (let's be clear: that's handbags to carry around your dog, rather than handbags made from dogs). I also spot car seats for dogs, a "pet fountain" that allows your cat to drink from a constantly flowing source of water, and a "memory foam" mattress for "senior" pooches with bad backs. I even come across a treadmill for obese dogs – the "Fit Fur Life" with its attendant price tag of £1,865.
Amid this paradise of pet paraphernalia, I meet Ben Helm, the sales and marketing director of Golden Acres, the UK's largest manufacturer of own-brand pet foods. The company owns Lancashire's largest arable farm and its on-site factory produces 70,000 tonnes of pet food a year, exporting to 37 countries around the world. By most measures, it's a huge operation, but it's a doggie biscuit in scale compared with the four leading pet-food manufacturers – P&G, NestlĂ©, Mars and Colgate-Palmolive – which, between them, are thought to account for more than 80% of the world's pet-food market.
"Some people now spend more on feeding their pets than they do feeding their children," says Helm, with a hint of awe. "It's a huge industry. Our bestselling 'kibble' [dried composite biscuit] is lamb and rice. Until about a year ago, we were importing three shipping containers of lamb meal [the labelling term for dry rendered lamb derivative] from New Zealand every week to make our kibbles, but now we try to source more of it locally as people are worried about food miles." As for the rice, he says: "The pet-food industry is now probably the biggest single importer of rice in the country." (I later check this factoid with the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association. It says: "So far as we can tell, our industry uses 50,000-150,000 tonnes of mostly 'broken rice' [a byproduct of the milling process] a year. This compares with rice imports for human consumption of around 450,000 tonnes in the UK.")
Helm picks up a handful of salmon kibbles for cats and rolls one around in his fingers. "Cat food actually requires more processing than dog food because it makes it easier to digest. We also add high-quality fats to the surface of cat kibbles to aid palatability. They say that you can't fool a cat as they will detect bad fats. We source our chicken fat from the UK."
Helm says that pet-food trends follow human food trends by about a year. He says that "no carb" pet food is currently the "big thing" largely because pet obesity – it is now estimated that between a quarter and half of the cats and dogs in the UK are obese – has become such a big talking point for the industry. Hypo-allergenic ranges are also popular, with many pet owners reporting that their pets are displaying signs of intolerance to the wheat found in many pet foods. It is one of the reasons why many owners are scaling up to the premium ranges offered by the likes of Lily's Kitchen.
When viewing the sheer scale of the pet-food industry from on high, it can be tempting to agree with Vale's conclusion that we must urgently consider the associated environmental impacts of owning a pet. But the industry, as you might expect, puts up a spirited defence, arguing instead that the pet-food industry is actually a highly efficient processor of what would otherwise largely be waste material from the human food chain.
"Far from being unsustainable, pet-food manufacturing uses material from animals which are inspected by vets as fit for human consumption but which are surplus to the requirements of the human food industry," says Michael Bellingham, the chief executive of the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association. "These byproducts must meet the very high safety and quality criteria laid down in European legislation. Without us adding value annually to around 630,000 tonnes of animal byproducts in the UK, it might otherwise have to be disposed of via landfill or incineration. Not very green. Furthermore, a recent report by the Waste and Resources Action Programme [more commonly known as Wrap] is rightly damning of the enormous amounts of food – around 30% – that goes to waste each year. Compare that with the 1% of pet food they found went to disposal."
Bellingham says that the "vast majority" of meat used in pet foods is byproduct from the human food chain, as opposed to "human-grade ingredients" or meat specifically reared for the purpose. The situation with fish, he says, is similar: "The vast majority of the fish ingredients used by industry are the surplus from fish filleting plants, or fishmeal produced from such surpluses. Some 'super premium' products may use human-grade ingredients but, for the very small amount of fish used and the tiny market share, this will have a negligible impact on fish stocks."
But Bellingham also argues that the benefits of pets need to be viewed more holistically, rather than just through the prism of their "carbon pawprint". "Our environment, far from being threatened by pets, is greatly enriched by the part they play in our lives," he says. "Pets in the home instil responsibility, encourage social as well as environmental awareness and have positive health benefits on children. Furthermore, children from households with pets are found to have stronger immune systems and take fewer days off school. People with pets make fewer visits to the doctor – 21% less for elderly people. What large polluting car improves your health and gets you out for a walk every day?"
Archaeology has shown that we have been living with companion animals for at least 12,000 years. For example, in what is now northern Israel, a dig at the remains of the Natufian settlement called Ain Mallaha revealed the grave of an elderly man who is tenderly cradling a puppy in his arms.
That we greatly benefit from the presence of pets isn't really disputed. But in order to reduce their impact on the environment, should there possibly be a limit to the number of pets we have? Because, of course, it's not just the food they eat that's the problem. Some conservationists, for example, have long been saying that the population of domesticated cats is having a detrimental impact on native fauna. As obligate carnivores, cats are, by instinct, opportunistic predators. A 2005 study in Bristol, for example, showed that 131 cats returned home 358 animals – birds, small mammals and amphibians – over the course of a year. It didn't record the prey the cats failed to return home.
Professor Stephen Harris, based at the school of biological sciences at the University of Bristol, was one of the study's authors and he believes that the impact of some pets on local ecology needs to be debated much more widely.
"Compulsory neutering of cats is not really practical," he says. "But people really should weigh up the environmental cost of owning a pet. We each need to ask ourselves if we really need a pet? In the US, animal welfare groups strongly recommend that cats are kept indoors. And in Australia, some states are now discussing making it compulsory to neuter cats, as well as introducing 'feline-free' zones where, if found, cats can be trapped and humanely destroyed by the local authority. But here the British attitude to cats is that they should be left to roam as this is natural." (In an earlier study that Harris co-authored, it was calculated that the UK's 7.7 million cats kill around 188 million wild animals a year.)
But Harris says dogs aren't exactly guilt-free, given that an estimated 250,000 tonnes of dog faeces are deposited on our streets and in our parks each year: "It is calculated that 100 tonnes of dog shit is left on Richmond Park in London each year alone. This has a huge impact on the local ecology. If you see aerial photographs of the area, you can see how yellow the grass is around the car park where all the dogs rush out of the owners' cars to urinate. Pets such as dogs and cats can have lots of these little impacts, which really do add up. Ecologically, pets are very demanding and this is a lifestyle choice that is difficult to justify for most people." (In their book, the Vales make the observation that, in San Francisco, city officials say that dog faeces now account for 4% of the municipal waste sent to landfill each year – the same level as used nappies.)
Marina Pacheco, chief executive of the Mammal Society – who owns a cat herself – says education, rather than legislation, is the answer: "We are aware of the huge impact cats have on small mammals. Yes, we probably have too many cats in the UK, but it's too hard to work out the optimum carrying capacity. We have to be pragmatic about the fact that millions of people do own cats. There are things cat owners can do, though. Keeping cats in during dusk and dawn, which is their natural hunting time, is a good idea, as are collar bells. Not owning too many cats is also sensible. One or two is enough and get them neutered, too. It must become socially unacceptable to be an irresponsible pet owner."
Anyone who owns a pet will keenly testify how much joy and companionship they can bring. But they will also acknowledge just how much time, effort and money they can require, too: a tortoise needs its heat and lighting; a horse needs shoeing and a regular supply of straw; an iguana needs its supply of insects; a chicken needs grit and corn; a dog needs its delousing powder; a cat needs a scratch tower. And then there's the insurance, the vet's fees and the annual cost of food and bedding. It's little wonder that some pets are described as being as big a commitment as having a child in the home. So it shouldn't really come as a surprise that some are now viewing pets as having a similar environmental impact to that of a small person. After all, in many owners' eyes, their pets are very much part of the family.
Back at PetIndex, Morrison is handing out samples of her luxury pet food to passersby. "No, we don't use any animal meal in our pet foods," she says proudly to one interested woman. "It's the devil's work. They strip everything that's good off a chicken, even the fat, then they grind it into a powder for pet food. People are fixated on price – most pet food is cheaper than a tin of baked beans. But more and more people are coming round to the view, just as they are doing with their own diet, that quality counts. We've only been going since last November and we've already turned over half a million pounds. We have to start asking more questions about the food we feed our pets."
For altogether different reasons, Morrison is right.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Got a doggie Jedward?

If you have a dog who can sing, then please get in touch with these guys!
They are hoping to assemble a canine choir. This is I feel ambitious. In the past we've staged the Paw-O-Vision Song Contest and we found that some doggies could be quite diva-esque - they wanted to sing solo or not at all. (Very often the dogs chose not at all, it's very different putting your head back and singing in the comfort of your own front room - but in front of legions of fans and press...)
And when we did Pup Idol at the Wag and Bone and later Dog Brain of Britain at the Cold West Nose singing dogs were a touch thin on the ground. Although if that Shih Tzu who did a strip while singing to the Full Monty theme tune is reading this blog - please do apply!



Sky1 Canine Choir seeks Singing Dogs.

Brand new animal entertainment show ‘Pet Nation’ is looking to audition your Pavarotti pooches, canine crooners and musical mutts for a brand new dog choir!

Hosted by Liza Tarbuck and Huey Morgan, ‘Pet Nation’ will be a celebration of our nation’s love affair with our pets.
The canine choir will be a spectacular ending to our series. So if your beloved can belt out a tune please get in touch today.

Send a short video clip to animalhouse@twofour.co.uk under the subject ‘Canine Choir’. Please include contact information along with details of your dog’s repertoire. We will be holding auditions in January and February 2010.

We look forward to meeting you then!


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Littery review


Was tipped off about this TV programme...This Thursday, BBC2 9.45 Wonderland.

Here's some info from the BBC site:

Seven puppies are born to a first-time mother called Uggs in a cramped front room in East London. These aren't just cute and cuddly puppies - they are Staffordshire Bull Terrier crosses, the dogs the tabloids sometimes call 'devil dogs'. They are both one of the most sought-after breeds in the country, and perversely the most frequently abandoned. One in three of Battersea Dogs Home's total intake is a Staffie cross.

This film follows the fate of Uggs' puppies as her owner tries to find new homes for them at 300 pounds a pup. It isn't long before boon turns to burden, however, as Uggs' owner realises the puppies are costing her more in food and care than she can ever make from the sales.

Introducing Uggs' owner and the new Staffie pup owners, this film uncovers the lives of the people from a marginalised section of society, who may mistrust other humans, but have a genuine love of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

What breeds make up this dog?




This is Varley and her owner says she is one part Rod Stewart. But can you guess the two pedigree breeds that make up her real parentage!
First correct answer wins a dog book of their choice from the Interpet range.
One parent easy to see, angle of the photo may be making the second breed trickier to call!
Clues coming later today if no one gets it. Send you answers to comps@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk
This will be won today!

Clues!
One parent is reputed to have free access to all royal parks and palaces.
The other parent could have a pet name of Weiner or Frank...!

It's all over - Varley's a Cavalier x Standard Longhaired Dachshund - congrats to the winner, well done everyone for good guesses!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Curiouser and curiouser

In today's Times....

Patrick Foster, Valerie Elliott and Dan Sabbagh

An investigation into a BBC documentary that exposed the poor health of pedigree dogs descended into farce yesterday after the broadcaster forced Ofcom to postpone publication of its report.

The watchdog had been ready yesterday to uphold three complaints against Pedigree Dogs Exposed, ruling that the programme had treated the Kennel Club and two dog breeders unfairly.

However, the BBC’s lawyers persuaded the regulator to cancel publication of the ruling hours before it was to have been made public because they claimed that the corporation had been misled about the nature of the inquiry. They said that the watchdog had wrongly refused to consider large parts of its evidence.

The row had sparked so much controversy that the BBC dropped its coverage of Crufts.
Related Links

* Critic of pedigree dog breeding quits club

* BBC ready to dock Crufts coverage

The Kennel Club said yesterday that it had lost confidence in the watchdog. Ronnie Irving, chairman of the Kennel Club, said that he was bewildered and aggrieved that the BBC had intervened. He added: “We have to admit a loss of confidence in the Ofcom complaints process.”

The Times understands that Ofcom upheld 3 out of 19 complaints against the programme, produced by Passionate Productions and broadcast in August last year, but has not quashed its central allegation that breeding techniques have led to puppies being born with disease and deformities.

The regulator is understood to have concluded that the programme was unfair to the Kennel Club when it likened the body’s stance on pedigree breeding to the eugenics movement and the Nazis. It also upheld complaints made by breeders of Rhodesian ridgebacks and cavalier King Charles spaniels that they, too, had not been treated fairly.

Relationships between the Kennel Club, the BBC and Ofcom disintegrated after a bitter briefing war. When Ofcom notified all parties of its provisional findings this summer, a leak appeared on the Dog World magazine website suggesting vindication for the Kennel Club. This was deleted after the watchdog complained that its confidentiality rules had been breached.

The BBC is understood to believe that Ofcom asked “misleading” questions when it began its investigation, and sources said that the corporation became aware of the path the watchdog was following only when it released provisional findings. The BBC submitted new evidence but claims that Ofcom refused to consider it.

The ruling is understood to require the BBC to broadcast a summary of Ofcom’s findings, which the corporation is desperate to avoid.

Sources also claimed that Kath Worrall, chairwoman of Ofcom’s Fairness Committee, which heard the complaints, had links to the dog-breeding world after acting as a show judge. Mrs Worrall said she had not sat as a judge since 1976.

The allegations of links between Nazism and the Kennel Club resurfaced yesterday after it emerged that Chris Kisko, the husband of Caroline Kisko, the secretary of the organisation, is on the list of alleged British National Party members published on the internet last month. Mr Kisko refused to comment, but Mr Irving said: “Mrs Kisko is not and has never been a member of the BNP.”

Monday, 9 November 2009

Dozens of reasons to foster

4Pawz&More Rescue are desperately seeking foster homes.

Here's their appeal:

We need to find foster spaces for 12 dogs this week we have so far been asked to help and this is without helping those that have come from local pounds and other rescues needing help.

Could you help foster a dog or puppy and help assess, train and love it as one of your own so it can find a forever home of its own ? Do you live within a 30 mile radius of Dover, Kent have a secure garden, are you at home most of the time (dogs can be left for approx three hours) are you able to travel to our vets at Deal or Herne Bay if dog needed vaccines or neutering?  Are your pets neutered and vaccinated?
 
The Rescue provides crates, food, cover medical costs, give full back up on training and feeding etc. All you need to give is your time, love and commitment to help these poor dogs till they find a new home via the rescue.

We need help now and with Xmas coming up we are getting busier as people dump un-wanted pets as they are too old and want a younger pup for Xmas or can't be bother to pay kennel bills whilst away, dog does not go with new sofa or decor , have not bothered neutering, socialising or house training or just can't be bothered with it anymore. The list of excuses is endless and the inhumane way that people off load their pets are beyond belief.

If you can help pleases email us at 4pawzandmore@aol.com or ring 07951769118 (sorry do not return calls to mobiles) and leave a message with your home land line number and someone will call you back.

Ofcom back off

Just saw this link on Twitter so thought I'd pass it on. Here's a link to the story on the Broadcast now website.

Ofcom backs down to BBC anger over Pedigree Dogs ruling

9 November, 2009 | By Katherine Rushton

Ofcom has held off publishing rulings about the BBC1’s Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary after sparking “unprecedented” anger from the corporation.

According to sources, Ofcom told the BBC last week that it had upheld three of 19 complaints about the documentary, which famously caused a rift between the BBC and the Kennel Club, and said it would publish the decision today [9 November].

The documentary, by Passionate Productions, identified serious issues affecting the health and welfare of some pedigree dogs and led to a decision to suspend BBC coverage of the annual Crufts dog show. The Kennel Club subsequently changed its “breed standards” and banned the breeding of close relatives.

But the Kennel Club took issue with the documentary and hired law firm Schillings to make a series of complaints. It is understood that two of the complaints centred on misrepresentation of specific dog breeders and one was about a comparison between dog breeding and Nazi eugenicists.

However, the BBC reacted furiously to Ofcom’s decision, privately complaining about the way the investigation was conducted and heaping pressure on the regulator to overturn its judgement.

“I’ve never known such anger inside the BBC about a ruling. Very, very senior figures were furious. Judicial reviews were considered. Ofcom have given in to the pressure,” an insider said. Even as late as last night, it seemed that Ofcom would publish its ruling today – but its fortnightly bulletin was issued this morning with no mention of Pedigree Dogs Exposed.

“Odd” questions

BBC sources claimed Ofcom asked “odd” questions in its call for evidence, and then would not allow the corporation to submit any additional material which would have supported its argument. They also raised concerns that Ofcom’s Kath Worrall oversaw both the initial complaint and the appeals process as a member of the media regulator’s content board as well as chair of its fairness committee.

“They got the same person to be judge and jury. It took a record time for Ofcom to rule on and there was an unprecedented level of protest to Ofcom, right up until the last minute,” a source said.

It is understood that Ofcom restructured its appeals process following the complaints but maintained that it would stand by its decisions on Pedigree Dogs Exposed. It is not clear whether Ofcom will use the extra time to reconsider its ruling.

Ofcom, the BBC and Pedigree Dogs producer/director Jemima Harrison all declined to comment.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Poor Stanley is a firework casualty


This isn't Stanley, but this is a dog that looks quite like him

A six year old blue Beardie boy (pale grey and white with a dark grey nose and pigment to the non-expert!), called Stanley, went missing from his home last weekend. Frightened by fireworks. His owners are beside themselves and have notified police, dog wardens, RSPCA, shelters etc. The have put up posters over a wide area. He was in the Saint Austell, Cornwall area. Stanley is microchipped.

His owners are Patsy and Paul Jones, phone no. 0172661855

With tonight being Bonfire night and the weekend coming also likely to be awash with fireworks we are all very afraid for this poor, frightened boy. They have been told about Ken Hines' excellent booklet on finding a lost dog which they are downloading (click here) and they are also putting Stanley on Doglost and Petsearchers.

I've checked Dog Lost and it's not up on their site yet - but Beardies are shaggy and quickly look filthy and knotty when running wild, so if you see something that looks like a small Old English with a tail - it might be poor old Stanley.

Hope he's soon home and that no other dogs go missing this firework season. Do keep your doggies safe!

UPDATE from the Friendly Beardie website:
Ron McCawley has been out searching for hours. Stanley has been sighted after crossing the railway line so at least he has done that successfully. He is now running around the slag heaps so that makes him hard to find. With all the fireworks he could run anywhere. Owner is a policeman so all police cars are aware.
We have the club trap and can take it down at the weekend if it can be of use
Hope someone takes him in before that
Alison

Very sad news...

Hi Beverley

Bad, bad news on Stanley...not yet 100% confirmed but 99% certain that he was killed by a train on November 1st (the morning after he went missing). A railway worker saw a poster this morning and confirmed that a grey "old englishsheepdog" wearing a black collar with a green tag was hit by a train on Nov. Ist.

Unless by some miracle there are two dogs exactly the same in St. Austell, that looks to be Stanley.  It was only about 2 miles from his home.

I am totally devastated, and the family too, of course.

Ruth

Pedigree Dogs to be Exposed in America!

The documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed premieres Tuesday, December 10, 8:00 pm ET/PT on BBC America.

BBC AMERICA brings audiences a new generation of award-winning television featuring news with a uniquely global perspective, provocative dramas, razor-sharp comedies, life-changing makeovers and a whole new world of nonfiction. BBC AMERICA pushes the boundaries to deliver high quality, highly addictive and eminently watchable programming to viewers who demand more. It is available on digital cable and satellite TV in more than 65 million homes.

Round Two

This morning is groundhog day.
In a few moments I'll be doing a radio interview on BBC Radio Berkshire, same topic as Radio 5 and up against Dave Cavill... but no satellites to go down - just phones!
And for those who can multitask - at the same time on BBC Radio 5 Carol Fowler, fearless pet Cavalier campaigner is up against an as yet unidentified breeder with I suspect opposing views!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Should have gone to Specsavers?

When I got booked to do Radio 5 Live on yesterday's Apgaw report blog I made some fairly stringent conditions.
It was an evening show and there was no way I was going into their studios even if they sent a car. Nothing, and I mean nothing, gets in the way of me putting my little boy to bed. (I kid you not, I have now not turned up at two receptions - one at 10 Downing Street and one at Tory HQ, just because I couldn't stand the wobbly lip when I told my little one I'd not be the one reading him his bedtime story!)
Radio 5 didn't fancy doing the interview over the phone, too risky. So they booked the radio car to come to our house.
I'd done this only once before, for the Radio 4 Today show on the heavyweight political issue of "Is it sometimes cruel for dogs to wear clothes?" They parked in the garden, put up their satellite dish and I sat in their dinky little studio and sounded to the world like I was sitting just across the desk from John Humphry and I was still able to do the school run like a normal mum shortly afterwards!
Last night at 10.25pm the radio car turned up and it was obviously very dark. The driver/engineer couldn't see any sky to point his dish at as we do have a lot of trees.
I hadn't expected he would need to relocate as the other guy had no problem finding the sky last time.
I was already pretty exhausted, I get up at 6.20am most mornings and usually have a very hectic day being a working mum - but I had also managed to squeeze in re-reading the 56 page Apgaw document in between supervising homework, making teas and trying to get Kieran off to sleep. (Can I hear a violin playing?)
I knew it was a long radio show, they warned I might be on for 45 minutes and it was a cold night. So I staggered out to the van with a mug brimming full of steaming hot peppermint tea, my lap top, a piece of paper, a pencil and my phone. Sometimes there are massive pauses and I had a mad idea of doing a bit of work while they went to the news - I know, what a multi-tasker!
Now had I just needed to sit in the van and talk I would have been fine. But no, I discovered we now had to go on a hunt for some clear sky!
Our little country lane is of course unadopted, some would say it is actually neglected and needs to be taken into care!
So the early part of the drive certainly woke me up as I experienced a very minty shower of hot water trying to avoid giving my laptop and phone a good dipping!
After the bumpy lane it was only a short drive till the engineer found the perfect spot. He decided to park up in his plain white van - which has no BBC logos - in a very exposed spot.
He has chosen to park on the grass in the tiny Fairoaks Airport next door to our lane, which is also sometimes home to the police helicopter.
It suddenly occurred to me we could easily be mistaken for a caravanette, stopping for the night. The dish on the top could be domestic - we're just two campers hooked on TV and can't stand to miss Lie to Me on Sky1 so have pulled over to watch with a steaming-hot half cup of tea.
I have to say I felt a little uneasy. At any moment someone was going to knock on the window and move us on fearing we were the start of a new hi-tec traveller's encampment or indeed one of the eccentric band of plane spotters we sometimes disturb in our hedgerow.
The interview starts and there is always another guest who you are supposed to have an argument with - that's how the media works.
I had been wondering who it would be, would it be my favourite KC sparring partner Caroline Kisko?
No! It was KC member and Our Dogs proprietor Dave Cavill - who regular blog readers will know appeared on this very blog in the Pedigree Dogs Exposed outtakes episode. Click here to relive that one!
Dave and I go back to almost the Jurassic period, so this was in itself an odd death match. (When I must have been almost a child, Dave taught me to jive at the Pedigree Chum Champion stakes at the Metropole Hotel, Birmingham.)
The interview started and I got first go...
Rachel Burden asked, "Is there still a problem of over-breeding in this country?"

There's definitely a problem on several levels. There's an over production problem with 100,000 dogs in rescue kennels each year and 10,000 unwanted dogs put to sleep each year. And at the other end of the scale dogs are being bred into peculiar shapes that lead them to suffer.
There are a lot of dog issues and when the MPs sat down to look at them they will have found that Pedigree Dogs Exposed was only the tip of the iceberg.
It's a complete mess the way we breed dogs in this country and I think had we not been so close to a general election we'd have had legislation suggested at this point.
As it is the KC has pretty much been put on probation for a year to try and reform itself after a 100 years of no one really looking over its shoulders.
But really the report is saying let's come back in a year when we've got a new Government that may have time to table some legislation that will protect the animals and the people who are buying them.


Rachel interjects that I've made all sorts of arguments and assumptions and she gives Dave Cavill a chance to respond.

I'm pleased Beverley's given me such a wonderful opening. It's all about assumptions. There are so many assumptions in this report, so many assumptions made by that programme Pedigree Dogs Exposed. There is very little evidence, there are very few figures. The report for instance talks about eight million dogs in this country and that's wildly out. Nobody knows the numbers, nobody knows the figures. This report looks down the wrong end of the telescope. It focuses on a small number of serious problems, don't misunderstand me, as the principle of the Animal Care College I've been trying to help people breed better quality dogs as Beverley well knows, for many many years. But what I'd like try to do if we get the opportunity - is to put things into perspective.
I'm sitting here in the studio and I've got some papers in front of me, if I take off my glasses I can't see. That's a genetic problem, it's a human genetic problem. There are 3,000 human genetic problems and we're mongrels.


Rachel turns to her other studio guest, a stand-up comedian called Andrew O'Neil who introduced himself as a vegan from an animal rights background.

"The RSPCA says there are 145 different inherited diseases in dogs. If we are breeding dogs so specifically surely we should be able to eliminate them."

Next we go to Mark on the phone lines from Stoke-On-Trent.

"Pedigree perfect dogs are bred for display shows and it's all about turning a loving, sentient being into an obedient looks-good object so that we have power to make it look like the way we want it to do, to make it do what we want. It's all about power. And it doesn't matter that breeding these types of dogs creates horrific deformities and diseases. It doesn't matter that 1,000s of animals are languishing in the cold, desperate for a home. Many are going to be put to sleep. It's all about getting the trophy at the end of the day."

Back to David. Rachel asks, "Is it all about the way dogs look? What drives pedigree dog breeding?"

No, no - it certainly is! Man over the centuries has done it over pigeons, they've done it with cows to produce more milk. One of the big problems here is the misunderstanding about the health and welfare of a particular breed and what constitutes a genetic disease and this report does this, although it does not show that distinction as it clearly should do. For instance there are many breeds which have normal confirmation which do have genetic problems and there are some other breeds which actually have very few genetic problems. Until you start to separate that off and recognise that the vast majority of people who own dogs in this country love them and look after them and care for them. There are problems, don't misunderstand me, but they are being solved and one of the things I liked about the report is that it did recognise that the KC was working over a very long period of time with the Animal Health Trust and vets to try and improve it.

Rachel asked Mark who called in if he had a dog.

"Yes I'm a dog lover and a vegan as well. I've had two dogs, sadly I had a rescue Beagle who passed away six months ago - she had pancreatitis. She had terrible problems with her snout, I don't know if that's related to the deformities that you find in many pedigrees. I just think its outrageous especially when you think of all the animals that need rehoming that we are continuing to be bred, especially breeds that are going to have inherent diseases and painful deformities."

Dave asks, how old was your Beagle when it died?

"She was 11 or 12"

11 or 12 is a natural age for a dog and it died of pancreatic problems which almost certainly was the result of old age. Now Beagles don't normally have a problem with their heads or their mouths or their snouts. So in fact, you're talking about a breed that is normally extremely healthy. That's the problem, when people identify all pedigree dogs as being for some reason deformed, this is just not true.

Mark says " I don't think anyone's making that point though!"

Rachel said, back to Beverley now, let's go into more detail of the report. And I know you think it doesn't go far enough. It calls for a limit on the number of times a dog can sire pups. Random checks of breeders. All pedigree dogs should be microchipped. Champion show dogs should undergo health screening before they can claim their title. There should be guidelines to inform owners what to look for in a healthy dog. Pretty comprehensive on the face of it?

I think it's pretty shameful really that a group of MPs have to lecture the KC in what sounds to me like common sense. Yes, at the moment there is no limit on the number of times a stud dog can be used. The top winning dog can be used on every single female in the breed making every dog and bitch in the breed a half-brother and half-sister. At the moment it's totally okay according to the KC to mate a grandfather to a granddaughter. The KC banned very publicly the brother and sister and mother and son matings just around last Crufts, but they also admitted - when talking to a domestic dog show audience - that this was just a PR stunt basically. The majority of people showing are doing line breeding such as a grandfather to granddaughter. Everyone knows that's obviously wrong.

Rachel again...When we talk about show dogs we do think about extremes when actually there is a whole community of dogs out there that happen to be a pedigree but are really well loved. Rachel for example, sitting next to me here, has pedigree dogs in her family - Golden Retrievers. They are known for their beautiful gentle nature. We know what we're getting, it would be terrible to lose these breeds.

Oh definitely, I'm talking from a perspective of someone who absolutely loves pedigree dogs and wants to preserve them and wants to keep them healthy. We're the voice of the pet owner here, the majority of people own these dogs as pets yet the KC is really listening to the tiny number of people who show dogs and are protecting what is a pastime that really does need improvement. In other countries in the world you can still show dogs but there are limits, there are things put in place to protect the health of the dogs. Twenty years ago our KC just put their heads in the sand and didn't look at what other KCs were changing elsewhere. You can't close gene pools without putting things in place to preserve the health of these breeds. You can't stand back and watch the shape of dogs become distorted in the pursuit of rosettes and not take some action.
The poor old Pug, which we all think is adorable, has got so many problems. Yet they are listed in the KC Accredited Breeder scheme as not needing any health tests. Yet these dogs have tremendous problems. They have this double twist in their tail, which leads to unfortunately a twisty spine as well. Hemivertebrae.


Rachel asks, David - how much does the dog show industry fuel these problems?

I think Beverley's got it exactly right when she talks about the pet owner. What this report seems to have missed is the mass breeding of pups by people who are not in the show world. People who breed pedigree dogs and then sell them to the pet owner without any let or hindrance from the Kennel Club or anyone else. The whole of the spectrum. We're talking about more legislation but it's already in place...


"It's not Dave"
"It is"
"It isn't there..."
"It's just not implemented..."

In Sweden, and I know you know about Scandinavia, Dave. In Sweden there is consumer legislation which makes the breeder responsible for health problems for the first three year of a dog's life. This has led to breeders completely cleaning up their act. There are no pups for sale in pet shops in Sweden. Breeders insure their pups for health problems and it means that everyone is really conscientious about ensuring their pups are healthy.


"It's a different ball game in Sweden..."

But, says Rachel, Dave do you admit that there is something inherently distorting about inbreeding?
Rachel there are problems to be solved, no doubt. The more extreme breeds bring problems of their own and I absolutely understand that. Beverley and I are on the same side we just look at things from a slightly different point of view. We want to improve these things.
My view is that the vast majority of pedigree dogs are fine and if there are problems they are well managed. Like me taking off my glasses. I wear spectacles so I can see - it's a minor genetic problem, you manage it. There are some serious problems and they are being addressed.

And at that point the satellite link from our plain clothes BBC van died! If you want to hear the rest of the interview and what Dave was able to say unchallenged do have a listen on Iplayer! Would have been a better ending to the story if we'd been moved on by the police... oh well!

I went home to bed thinking how much easier that would all have been over the telephone!
And no, I didn't faint at Dave's trivialising of hereditary health problems, after all blind dogs can all go to Specsavers can't they! Obvious really.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A year off for bad behaviour?

As end of term reports go, the APGAW (the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare) enquiry into dog breeding certainly shows tremendous room for improvement.
The documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed is credited with inspiring the investigation, but surely the fact that the Kennel Club had very dramatically run off to Ofcom complaining they’d been unfairly treated by the programme should have given the committee the heads up that this was an institution very firmly in denial of its own failings.
The committee seems to have broadly upheld the show’s findings, but also, when it looked deeper, they found the whole dog breeding system in Britain to be lacking. The deeper they looked, the smellier it all got.
I fully expected the review to discover the depressing mayhem which has kept me awake at nights, but what I was rather hoping was they'd also inspire a bit of inspiration and leadership as to how we can sort all this out.
Giving the KC a year to sort itself out is tremendously optimistic and short-sighted.
I’m afraid I just don’t have that much faith in the existing system being capable of reforming itself. Especially as it obviously doesn’t yet fully accept there is a problem and they are part of it!
Very charitably APGAW have given the KC 12 months to rise to the challenge of changing its pedantically round spots
I sense this has nothing to do with the MPs on the task force glimpsing a new reforming fervour emerging from the grass roots at the KC. Depressingly, I think it has a lot more to do with political realism.
How can this Government - in the midst of the blackest dog of depression - be persuaded to tackle long overdue breeding reform legislation? Would it win them the next election? Are they going to tackle any thorny subjects that aren't massive vote grabbers before the next election?
I reckon the committee thought there was a better chance of success if they put this topic on hold for a year - hoping that the political pack will be reshuffled sufficiently by then for there to be a cat in hell’s chance of getting an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act.
Deep down we all know consumer legislation is what is needed - right from the vile council-approved battery farms to the plain batty extremists in the show world.
In Sweden a simple consumer law change improved things forever. It made breeders financially responsible for any health problems occurring in the first three years of a dog’s life. It instantly made passive, unprofessional dog breeding a very financially unattractive prospect. And it made dog show breeders more accountable for undue exaggeration and preventable hereditary disease.
I’d love someone to reform the crusty old Kennel Club, to clean up the cliquey Welsh councils who continue to license horrific breeding kennels and try make vets keep their over-demanding unethical customers under control - but the poor long-suffering British dog simply won’t survive for the 100 years that would probably take going by their current level of progress.
I have my money on Professor Bateson’s review going that confident step further and hopefully persuading some nice politicians to give this very deserving dog a home.
Change the law and you'll change everything.

Here's the report if you've got a full tea pot and a packet of biscuits.

Here's a link to the coverage in today's Times.

Here's Jemima Harrison's response to the report, Jemima is of course the creator of Pedigree Dogs Exposed:

The spinmeisters of Clarges St are clinging to the few morsels of comfort offered to the KC in the APGAW report. But make no mistake - this is a totally damning indictment of the mess pedigree dogs have ended up in under the KC’s watch. The KC has always deflected criticism by accusing its critics of bias, but now an independent report by an all-party group of MPs has also found a “serious welfare problem” that requires “urgent action”.
Indeed, the MPs have decided that the KC is so incapable of driving through the necessary reform on its own that it advises an independent dog authority – and wants to put the KC on a year’s probation.

Further:

• It is palpable nonsense for the KC to claim that the KC has taken measures to ensure that dog owners are “fully aware” of the problems and how to minimise the risk.

• It is astonishing that the KC continues to peddle the ABS as the benchmark when the Report remarked on the low standards adopted by some ABS breeders – and specifically pointed out that the public may be being deceived into thinking a puppy from an accredited breeder will be free of health and
welfare problems.

• The KC has glossed over APGAW’s strong calls for tougher health testing both as a condition of registration and of winning rosettes, suggesting that the report supports the KC’s current softly-softly approach. This is a real distortion of APGAW’s findings.

• The KC has also misrepresented APGAW ‘s findings regarding the role of dog shows and has chosen to ignore the MPs’ sharp criticism of More4 for broadcasting Crufts 2010.

However, and regardless of the KC’s face-saving spin, the rollercoaster of reform is, surely, now unstoppable and that is very good news for dogs.”


And here's a link to the Kennel Club.... !



Sunday, 1 November 2009

Captive bolt case - police now involved

Here's an extract from today's Sunday Telegraph - thank you so much to @PaulineMM on Twitter for alerting me to this. Here's a link to the whole story.

If you want the background to this story click here for the previous blog which also includes the link to the petition which has helped build the momentum to keep this case in the public eye.

Have to say that at last the RSPCA press office appear to be sounding a bit less supportive of the use of the captive bolt now it's a national newspaper asking the questions. I think they should have announced their own internal enquiry and maybe made a ruling that captive bolt would never be used ever again in these circumstances.

Good on WSPA for showing a bit of backbone. If it's unacceptable for the rest of the world to kill dogs with the captive bolt, you'd think it would certainly not be tolerated here - never mind be a method used by our biggest welfare charity. I'd be expecting the RSPCA to be prosecuting any local authority that started dispatching their pound dogs in this manner.
How have they dealt with one of their own using it?
To date there's been no action taken apart from the press office backing up the decision of the officer who pulled the trigger.
Will the police investigate this thoroughly or are they just that little bit too close to the RSPCA to make that possible?
Either way the RSPCA has to take some action otherwise this blood stain will not fade and their reputation will be forever tarnished and their other good works dented.

The use of captive bolt guns is deemed "inhumane" and "unacceptable" for the destruction of dogs by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

Last month German Shepherd Rescue, which rehouses between 200 and 300 of the breed every year, complained to South Wales Police about the incident.

The force has now written to the organisation to confirm that they will investigate the allegations.

The letter, from Inspector Mark Hobrough, states: "In relation to your correspondence received on 18th September 2009 can I please assure that this matter is receiving our thorough attention.

"I am sorry that I have no update to provide you at present and can only state the matter is undergoing investigation."

Jayne Shenstone, the founder of German Shepherd Rescue, said the dogs had a treatable condition called sarcoptic mange, a skin disease caused by a mite infection.

She said: "The RSPCA did not consult us or any other dog rescue centre. There was no vet present and there was no diagnosis. The dogs did not need to be killed, especially in such a brutal way.

"The RSPCA has claimed it's the only time they have heard of such a weapon being used like this, but captive bolts are routinely issued to inspectors.

"We believe that serious offences have been committed and that they merit charges for both the RSPCA and the officers responsible.

"If anyone else had killed ten dogs in such a cruel way the RSPCA would have been the first to prosecute."

The RSPCA says that it would have been impossible to rehome the dogs and there was no alternative to having them destroyed.

But instead of being put down with a pain-free injection, they were caught with a "grab" pole – a noose at the end of a stick – before being dragged outside and shot in the head with the bolt gun, which fires a metal bar about three inches long into the animal's brain.

According to the WSPA, use of the captive bolt gun to put down domestic animals is "unacceptable" because of the difficulty of ensuring a "clean kill".

The RSPCA, which last year rehomed 15,872 stray unwanted dogs and destroyed a further 8,313, admits that it did not approach animal rescue shelters for help in finding homes for the animals.

A spokeswoman said: "The RSPCA will co-operate fully with any police investigation. But as yet we have not been told by the police that we are being investigated.

"The police contacted us several weeks ago to ask for some information, which we provided, but they did not state that we were under investigation.

"It was an absolutely extreme case. The bolt gun is certainly not used routinely by our officers."