Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Two doggie days out that came in too late for the next mag...

The RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre in Chobham, Surrey – the very same village in which Dogs Today is based – is holding its annual Gala Day on Sunday 5 September.
Expect displays of dog agility and western horse riding, a rehoming parade and even a circus workshop. Richard Curtis demonstrates his heelwork to music and Amanda and Tony Brutus will be performing amazing feats of towering strength.
Other attractions include a fun dog show and agility competition, classic and vintage cars, mini steam engines, a steel band, fairground rides, lots of stalls, a beer and Pimm’s tent and further refreshments.
A great fun day out for all the family, held from 11am to 5pm.

To find out more, please see www.rspca-millbrook.org.uk

On September 18 the Collingbourne K9 Festival is being held at Parsonage Farm in Collingbourne Kingston, Wiltshire.
The show is a Kennel Club Licensed Companion Dog Show, in aid of Help for Heroes, Wiltshire Air Ambulance, Wiltshire Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue and SBT Rescue,
Registrations open at 8.30am, the formal opening is at 10am, judging begins at 10.30am and 6pm is closing time.
Activities include obedience and gun dogs displays, a talent competition, shopping stands, a rescue and welfare village, kids’ zone and family picnic area, a fun agility ring and lots of catering.
There’ll also be a Guinness World Record Attempt for the ‘Largest Sit Stay’ at 1pm – the current record is held by the RSPCA, taken at the Wag & Bone Show, where 647 dogs attended and 627 set the record. Organisers are anticipating between 1,000 and 1,500 dogs at the event so hope to smash the record.
Two trophies will be awarded: the ‘Collingbourne K9 Perpetual Cup’ with a cash prize of £100 for Best in Show, and the ‘Marney Wells Perpetual Obedience Trophy’, also with a cash prize of £100 for the overall winner of the Obedience Classes.

For more information, please visit www.CKK9.co.uk

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Do you know any really good support groups?

Wouldn't it be great if there was a central list of fantastic support groups that people could seek help through?

I was just emailing with Jean Hickton who runs Yahoo Addison support group and it made me realise there are similar safe havens which could really help others, too. When your dog is first diagnosed with a condition it would really help to have a group to turn to.

So here's my first nominations for support group:

Addisons Disease:

We would like to welcome anyone who is living with a dog that has Addison Disease, specially those whose pet is newly diagnosed and who are feeling totally lost and out of their depth.
Our aim is to offer what help, support and advice we can based on our own experiences with our own Addison Dogs. However, we must stress that we are not vets but ordinary dog owners who nevertheless, have gained quite a lot of knowledge through the ups and downs of life with an Addison dog.
Mostly we want to offer hope. A properly treated and stabilised Addison Dog should act, behave and enjoy life exactly the same as any other dog. There is no reason that they cannot live out their normal lifespan.

Do you run a support group? Please send me some words (similar length and style as above) about what you do and your contact details and we'll compile a list.

Either comment here or email me direct beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Are bangs out of order or do you wonder what the fuss is about?

Do you dread firework season or have you got it completely sorted?
What lengths do you have go to in order to keep sane?
Have you found anything that has really helped your dogs cope?
Many years ago we heard that someone was developing some fantastic new doggie ear plugs that really would take the bangs away. But we've not heard another peep from them since that initial call. 
And we even got to try out some amazing doggie headsets from America developed for dogs that were frequent flyers. Our Christine in accounts took them home and as she still takes most of November off to go to the most remote place possible, that doesn't seem to have completely solved her firework phobias! Or maybe it's just that there aren't enough headsets for all her brood?
How bad is your dog's firework fears?
What's the worst experience you've had?
The other day we heard of a vet that shuts up shop so he can can holiday on a remote island with his dogs as they get so stressed, if even a vet can't sort this out, what hope is there?
Our Karen Redpath is working on a feature and would love to hear your firework experiences.
Please email Karen directly or leave a comment here.
Her email is karen@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk 

Monday, 23 August 2010

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Cuts that hurt

A little while ago I wrote about poor old Barney, the lovely gentleman that has cleaned our office for 16 years. He had been taken into hospital when he'd been overwhelmed by the cancer he had so bravely been fighting. I wrote about how grim it was seeing him all anonymous and vulnerable, how they were calling him by his formal name of Robert and thinking he was unresponsive.
Last Monday we got a call from his sister to say he was being moved to a hospice. While this obviously means all hope of recovery has gone, the prospect of him being taken to somewhere a little less like Beruit provided some comfort. Some prospect of dignity being restored to a once very private man. We've walked onto the ward to find him all alone being sick and choking as he is so weak he can't swallow. Others visiting have found so few staff on the ward that calls for the toilet have to go unanswered. The nurses and doctors we've dealt with have been lovely, but there just obviously aren't enough of them.
But even though there is a bed waiting for Barney in the idyllic hospice, he's still stuck in that horrible ward almost a week later.
When you're dying surely hours are pretty significant never mind days.
Will there be an ambulance to take him tomorrow? Who knows. He's been meant to move tomorrow so many times already.
We can't put him in a taxi, he's still a big man and he's very weak and hooked up to oxygen and morphine etc.
When I'd been in casualty myself a few months back, the ambulance staff had said they were being cut back again and they didn't know how they could possibly get any leaner.
Non-emergency ambulance trips may not obviously save lives, but they can give someone a much better death.
No dogs in this story, but then dogs are treated with a lot more dignity than our old people these days.

Please support this meeting and stop the Cornish dog ban

This important circular is being distributed to both Cornwall and ex-Cornwall residents who have signed the petition. We hope that ex-Cornwall residents who may be here on holiday will also be able to join us at the meeting.

When: Tuesday 31st August 2010
Time: 19:00 - 19:10 (this is the time the general public are allowed address the Council prior to the main meeting)
Where: Perranporth Parish Council offices (located by Perran rugby club on the road to Haven/Golf Club from the village)
What: Initial vote on the future of dogs on Perranporth Beach


The council have decided to add the following as an agenda item to vote on at this meeting:

a) A total dog ban
b) Dogs restricted by virtue of dates and times
c) No dog ban

We are worried that the vote now seems to be restricted to these three options only. Other suggestions made by us, local residents and businesses appear to have been disregarded. These include:
volunteer dog wardens, sponsored dog bins, local business financing/sponsoring dog bags etc.

We understand that the plan is to allow the Council working group to investigate the chosen (voted for) route in more detail for a potential final vote at the following Parish Council meeting on the 13th of September.

These next two Council meetings could be crucial. Remember, not all Councillors attended the public meeting and may not be aware of the strong support demonstrated against any ban. This could turn out to be our first and last chance to make our opinion heard by all Councillors.

We are encouraged to hear that on the 18th of August, the council for Holywell and Poly Joke had a similar vote as an agenda item. They apparently voted unanimously for no dog ban or restriction (following the example at Crantock).

Rory Jenkins, who has been leading the campaign against the potential ban, asks a pertinent question:

Why is Perran Council not able to take the same decisive and obvious decision? I say obvious, as when you look at the figures for local and wider afield support and the factual arguments, there are plenty in favour of dogs on the beach and only emotive arguments from the minority who want dogs banned or restricted”.

If you’re available, please attend the meeting.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Please help

Rosie Peace, our designer, has just phoned in great distress. Her elderly Staffie Molly went missing in the last three hours - in the middle of a thunder storm. She's contacting DogLost now...

But please if you are anywhere near Winforton, Herefordshire HR3 6EA please, please help search.

Molly is pretty much deaf. Rosie is staying with her sister so Molly may not know the area that well so may struggle to find her way home. Rosie has had the most ghastly six months and Molly's co-owner is gravely ill in hospital. Please everyone, let's try to get this one solved ASAP. I've emailed the local BBC radio station. Anyone got any other bright ideas for quickly getting this one talked about?

UPDATE; BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester just put something out on air - bless them - that was SOOOO quick!

Molly is safe. She had fallen down the river bank and was stuck in mud. A neighbour out looking in the storms is the hero of the day. Keith heard her cries and got a rope and rescued her. Very muddy but so very happy to be home! Thank you to EVERYONE who helped search or RT the message.

The next growl from the Growler

Another column from our show world insider...

As a long time breeder of pedigree dogs I watch in horror what is happening in the dog world.
Yes, I health test (I do more tests than the KC want for my breed). I raise puppies in my home trying my best to make sure I am selling healthy happy well socialised pups to the best homes I can find.
I don't make a lot of money and I don't have a huge kennel.
There are a lot of breeders like me, all quietly doing the same thing - often still in contact with puppies who are now elderly and their owners and sometimes with owners who have come back to find a second family pet after the first passed away.
While I admit over the years we all make changes and try to improve, I do feel let down and unsupported by the KC who don't seem to have any time or interest in what any breeder is doing once the registration money has been paid.
After 'that programme' as many call it, why didn't our KC spend some money showing the other side and how good breeders operate? Surely a great education advantage was lost by the total lack of action or defense.
Then we had the mad knee-jerk face-saving race that went on. Rafts of change and new rules suddenly pouring out of Clarges Street with little consultation or warning. Very few of us could keep up. Most willingly went along with change and breed clubs up and down the country ran around like mad things trying to cope, holding the KC-demanded meetings and reviewing the new standards in the time frame allowed.
Many breeds had rules regarding breeding and health testing that were far more stringent and fitting to each individual breed, but they were swept away - replaced by a set of one size fits all approach from our KC. Is it the breeders fault that our esteemed leaders were caught napping and made to look foolish by a well planned and edited assault on pedigree dogs?
I would say KC educate yourselves, come down of your lofty perch in your gentleman's club and actually look at the dog breeding that goes on today.
The small hobby breeders you look down on are what has replaced big impersonal kennels and make up the majority of your customers

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The look of love and how to fake it

Our trip to the cinema today to watch new release Marmaduke was surprisingly stimulating. I took three nine year olds who laughed all the way through and weren't too old and cynical to wince at the worst bits of green screening and CGI. Although Pixar it certainly wasn't.
I could go on about the terrible ear cropping on so many dogs but most obviously the Great Dane.
I could go on about the very odd casting. Why have a beautiful 100% Australian Shepherd playing a mutt? And what was that odd looking cross playing the angry pedigree macho dog?
I could get cross about them showing drugging the dog and cat before their flight - which is all wrong and against all the aviation guidelines.
But instead I'll tell you about their fantastic invention for making dogs appear to look into an actor's eyes. You don't see the prop in the film, I've just read about it since.
Meat glasses.
Such a simple idea yet such a brilliant one.
And no, not spectacles made of compressed meat - a normal pair of spectacles without lenses but with the top of a fork incorporated into the nose rest.
Simply attach a piece of chicken or beef etc to the fork to get the dog to look into the actor's eyes.
I don't know why, but I want a pair!
The film has a terrible rating on Rotten Tomatoes but I didn't drop off for nearly as long as I normally do in kid's films.
Perhaps that's what I need - film stars wearing Jaffa Cake glasses to keep me focused!
Here's the full story so you know I didn't make it up!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

London calling and it's all in aid of Cavaliers

Another great event that came in too late to be included in the magazine.

The Bermondsey Street Festival looks great fun and there's a dog show element, too! And better still all funds raised from the dog show go to the brilliant Rupert's Fund and Cavalier's in rescue.
Saturday September 18th.

Click here for more details about the Street Festival.

Mancunian Mutt Strutt for Nowzad

Been asked to give this a plug - came in too late to go in the magazine:

A fun sponsored walk has been organised in Manchester to raise funds for the local RSPCA branch and the animals of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 2nd Nowzad Dogs and RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch Mutt Strutt takes place on Saturday 18 September between 11am and 1pm.
The walk is a gentle 5km in the beautiful surroundings of Boggart Hole Clough, Manchester. Participants are required to raise a minimum sponsorship of £10 or make a one-off donation of £15, and all money raised will be split equally between the two charities. Nowzad Dogs rescues stray and abandoned animals, such as dogs, cats, horses and donkeys, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The event is sponsored by James Wellbeloved, all walkers will receive a goody bag and there are prizes for raising over £50. Free microchipping is also available for Manchester residents courtesy of Manchester City Council, and the Nowzad and RSPCA stalls will be stocked with merchandise.
 To register please email:

And we love Olive, too!

Apparently Olive regularly carries her bowl around like this! Perhaps she could include the website address too and we'll put her on commission!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Police sieze family pet - then lose her!

Just been asked to put this on the blog, how very upsetting on every level...

A Hertfordshire family have been left devastated after police seized their much loved family pet …and then lost her.

Tootsie, an 18 month old Staffie cross was seized on Tuesday morning after police acted on a warrant believing that Tootsies was a “pit bull type”. As the law allows, Tootsie was seized and taken to a secret location to await an examination to determine if she fitted the standard used for a banned breed. However Tootsies owner Mikala Coulthard received a telephone call later that day to say that when they went to check on Tootsie she was missing leaving her family heartbroken.

Mikala says “We have been trying to get some information from the police but they will not disclose any information as to what area she was taken to or escaped from! I understand the need for not disclosing where the kennels are but how can we look for her when we don’t know where to look? All they keep saying is she must have jumped a 6.5 fence and that they have officers out looking for her.
Tootsie is a family pet and has never been in any trouble before. She lives with children who keep asking when shes coming home and another dog who is pining for her.

Tootsie is friendly with people and dogs and we are worried that it’s been nearly three days now. She will be cold, tired and hungry and we beg anyone to please call if they see her. It may be someone has taken her into their home and we would ask those people to please contact the police on 0845 33 00 222 so we can get our baby back!”

Monday, 9 August 2010

That lovely Beardie video again for those just picking up the Sept magazine

Here's a wonderful short film that really deserves sitting down with a cup of tea and a whole box of Jaffa cakes. It shows an absolutely idyllic Beardie world created by a fantastic breeder who has loved these dogs for as many years as I have lived. The dogs she has today look just like the ones she had when I was a new born baby! Surely this is what dog breeding should be all about - guardianship rather than putting your stamp on the breed and 'improving' them. The Beardies she fell in love with were pretty much perfect. Intelligent, gentle, considerate, shaggy but not overly hairy, and just totally charming. Why change a winning formula.

Sit back and have a watch.... sigh! Oh to be a Beardie!

Brambledale Bearded Collies from Lynne Sharpe on Vimeo.

Lynne's Brambledale website is here

Do compare the photos from the 1960s to the current day, wonderful!
And our Oscar and Tess do The Caucus Race, too! I hadn't realised it was a Beardie game, but it stops as suddenly as it starts and Oscar makes that funny yipping noise you hear on the film! While I was watching this on the laptop in the kitchen (while making kiddie breakfasts!) Oscar and Tess were fascinated!

Jemima Harrison's interview with Prof Sheila Crispin

The September issue of Dogs Today is out in the shops on Thursday but is available to buy online now - just click on the cover above.

In this edition, Jemima Harrison interviews Professor Sheila Crispin, the new chairman of the Independent Dog Advisory Council which was formed on the recommendation of the Bateson report. Even though we gave the article three pages there was still a lot we couldn't possibly fit in, so we thought as we have a verbatim transcript we'd share it via the blog. You'll need a full pot of tea and a comfy chair as it is very long! The article in the magazine is a much better read - but we thought we'd give you a chance to read the full notes as a blog exclusive!
Do give us your comments - be interesting to compare your conclusions with Jemima's!


Jemima Harrison
You're a KC member. The KC appointed you to be chair of their Dog Health Group. Are you not part of the establishment that has been partly responsible for the mess that dogs are in?

Sheila Crispin
Well I’m very pleased I have this opportunity to respond to this I think an awful lot of it is wrong. First of all as is often the case with people who hold prestigious positions like President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons it’s not unusual to be invited to become an honorary member and this happened at the end of my presidential year. And so that was the
end of 2007 I think that I was invited to become an honorary member of the Kennel Club. I thought about it for quite a long time and decided that yes it was fine because I’ve always been a great believer in trying to change things from the inside rather than snipe from the outside so I accepted that. Also I became a member of the Dog Health and Welfare Strategy
group at the Kennel Club in 2008 so you can imagine that that meant I was launched straight in along with another veterinary surgeon. The two of us on that particular subgroup looking at the problem dogs.

Jemima Harrison
Mike Herrtage being the other one, yes?

Sheila Crispin
That’s Mike Herrtage, yes and Mike I think had been on for some time but I only became a member in 2008 and and really we specifically launched straight into what really was the fall out from your programme slightly later in the year.

Jemima Harrison
You were a member of the KC before Pedigree Dogs Exposed?

Sheila Crispin
The first meeting I went to was March 2008. Now you know and I know they knew very well that your programme wasn’t exactly going to be complimentary about the Kennel Club. I didn’t know at the time but of course they did that they might have to start getting quite a lot of the problem breeds looked at rather more scrutiny than perhaps they'd had before. so I think
they invited me to become a member because they knew that I’m my own women and when we met with the breed clubs and societies to look at the problems within some of these breeds that they would get if you like a clear view about particularly the head conformation and eyelid and eye problems. And in fact for each one of those problem breeds I produced a
briefing sheet for the breed clubs and societies telling them what the problems were and saying exactly what they could do about it so far from being an insider in the Kennel Club I was there I think to ask quite awkward questions of the breed clubs and societies and of the Kennel Club.

Jemima Harrison
There were just 10 breeds on the KC health ‘watch list’ at the time. Two or three were added after Pedigree Dogs Exposed. As a vet do you believe that there are more than 10 breeds that are in trouble? Why were not more breeds added to the list?

Sheila Crispin
Well I think the intention probably is to look at more breeds but I think they quite rightly prioritised the ones that they felt were the particular problems and that indeed is what I’d have done. Remember that bringing breed clubs and societies into the Kennel Club to say we don’t believe your breed is quite as it should be is quite an undertaking and we did it breed by breed.
And you know most of the people on there are busy doing lots of other things so it’s not as if you can say let’s get every breed in day after day. You can't because people have got so many other commitments. So you start off with what you thought are the priority breeds and that list is a true reflection of what the priorities were. And I’ve no doubt that once things are
satisfactorily resolved there they then move onto other breeds. But I’m not a party to that actual thinking. I think it’s the kind of thing that yes, I’m sure that we can come up with other ideas, but we haven’t been asked for them as yet.

Jemima Harrison
One big dispute was that the Kennel Club, and particularly tCaroline Kisko, maintained that 90% of dogs were healthy. As a vet would figure would you put on it?

Sheila Crispin
I wouldn’t. I mean that’s one of the big advantages of the new advisory council that hopefully we will now be able to produce much more accurate figures. And one of the things I’m very, very aware of in this new advisory council is that one figure that does seem to be pretty accurate is that about 37.5% to 40% of dogs are registered with the Kennel Club. So
when we’re looking at dogs, and we are we’re looking at dogs in general, we’re dealing with the whole lot, not just the less than 40% with the Kennel Club. And I’m really aware of that and therefore I’m very careful indeed in bandying figures. And as you probably know those figures are mainly from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association but what I’ve
also gleaned from all sources. So I’m reasonably happy that we’re dealing with Kennel Club figures of about 40% and I wouldn’t even presume to guess how many of those are healthy or unhealthy and I don’t think those figures are accurately available as yet but they will be in time.

Jemima Harrison
The Kennel Club did their own health survey which gave some indication what did you think of that?

Sheila Crispin
I didn’t. I’m not even going to give a view on that because I don’t know and I’m very careful of expressing a view when I don’t know how accurate those figures are. I have to say one of the things that I’m finding perhaps not altogether surprising in doing a huge amount of reading round the subject is the way that figures are bandied around by lots of different organisations
and sometimes for example the results of surveys are based on very small numbers of people being surveyed and actually very leading questions. I think one of the advantages of the Advisory Council is that it will be driven by science and that will mean that we’re much more careful in the way that questions are phrased and the answers and data that we look at and analyse.

Jemima Harrison
What was you view of Pedigree Dogs Exposed, good and bad?

Sheila Crispin
I think it it had the shock impact which was possibly needed because there was a certain complacency in the dog world in general about the conformation if you like and some of the problems of not just pedigree dogs but dogs in general. But I think in this sense yes it was very much the emphasis on what was wrong with the pedigree dogs. Unfortunately
as is so often the case I had the misfortune to be doing an eye testing session only a week or so after the programme took place. Now I hadn’t actually seen it at that point because I’d been testing Border Collies’ eyes in the Faeroe Islands. So I came back to what I can only describe a furore. And then did an eye testing session, very soon after getting back, and guess
what? The first owner that walked into the room was an owner of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. And I had looked at those dogs of hers for a long time over the years. And a lot of people you know under the eye scheme become quite good friends because you look at their dogs year in and year out because they're conscientious. And I have to say her comments
as you might expect were not entirely flattering. And this is always the problem with a programme like Pedigree Dogs Exposed - there's a lot that’s good and has the desired shock impact factor but unfortunately you disenfranchise lots and lots of people who feel that they have tried their hardest and spent a lot of money on making sure that all the
breeding that they do with their pedigree dogs meets all the health scheme requirements and that they are very careful in terms of what they breed to and from and the kind of dog they produce. And that is the problem. I always wonder with the shock horror stories we’ve got to be so careful that the minority does not offend the majority and one could say the same thing
of course when we start talking about things like puppy farms. That an awful lot of people breed very conscientiously and are we dealing with the minority who make life absolutely miserable for the majority. They're the kind of things I want our council to find out.

Jemima Harrison
Cavaliers are an interesting case of course because their health problems are so serious. The breed is battling with two huge health problems and a number of smaller ones too. I don’t think that anybody by any stretch of the imagination could argue that enough was being done. Every single one of the top stud dogs at the time of the programme had been used under age. Every single
one was being used outside of the breeding guidelines. This wasn’t a small minority with the Cavaliers. And i they felt they were doing the right thing totally why should they think the programme was about them?

Sheila Crispin
I’m sure the problem is it’s by reflection sometimes. If you have a breed that emerges in a programme as being undesirable for a great number of reasons or for a certain number of reasons, by reflection you take offence because you think that that’s your breed that is being identified as a problem breed and then if you feel you're doing all the right things you not
surprisingly are going to be perhaps more offended than if you are one of those where perhaps you're not doing the right things. Again I think it’s very difficult. I know certainly from the friends from my point of view um the malformation of kind of cerebral cortex cerebellum, the Chiari-type malformation, possibly a form of syringomyelia, yes that
is ghastly and if you have it in your dogs that would I think effectively stop me ever owning a Cavalier because I’d be so upset.

Jemima Harrison
Did you say possibly a form of syringomyelia?

Sheila Crispin
Yes I’ve talked to friends who are neurologists about this because I’m always interested in their take on these things and they say well we wouldn’t potentially call that syringomyeliain humans but I’m not a neurologist so I’m being very careful here.

Jemima Harrison
In all good heart could you recommend somebody to buy a Cavalier puppy at the moment?

Sheila Crispin
Well yes, probably the lady I spoke to in the eye testing session because I know that I’ve looked at her dogs over the years and I know that she doesn’t have cardiac problems and she hasn’t had syringomyelia and she hasn’t had eye problems and so you know in that sense she seems to be being sensible and she's
not breeding from a small gene pool.

Jemima Harrison
What is your brief?

Sheila Crispin
Well that’s an interesting one because…. the line is getting more and more echoey by the way which is slightly disconcerting.

Jemima Harrison
Do you want me to stop and call you back?

Sheila Crispin
No it’s all right, I can cope, but there's almost a kind of delay on the line now so you'll have to forgive me if some of my answers are slightly incoherent. Right what is my brief? Well as you know we have specific terms of reference which is independent expert advice. Make recommendations on methods and priorities for improving the welfare issue of dog breeding OK. So it
is welfare issues of dog breeding. And with particular regard to, and we came up there with the with our little stakeholder group, of surveillance, research and development which would go right back to your initial question about how accurate were the Kennel Club figures. So hopefully we can start to address that. Breeding strategy. You have mentioned that sometimes one
is breeding from a very small gene pool and we know that even in a highly.. you know a dog that is very common like the Labrador Retriever, the gene pool which is actually being used for breeding is smaller than you’d expect so breeding strategies. What you’ve already touched on, you know, how close should the relationship be? How should you think about breeding
to get rid of undesirable conformational traits? And of course genetic defects. And then legislation and regulation. And finally education and publicity. And of course in a sense the education and publicity is absolutely key because we have got to get the confidence of people who own dogs and people who breed dogs, as well as those people who feel that they have an interest in
dogs because they're a welfare organisation and as you know there is quite a range there. Now we’re in the process of looking at the membership at present. Bear in mind that this welfare, this advisory council is going to be very different from most things that have gone before mainly because we’re going to have to raise our own funds. That’s a huge difference from say the
Farm Animal Welfare Council and doesn’t half concentrate the mind. So I would at the moment we’re we've actually thought we’ll go for a membership of about eight people plus the chairman and just see if that gives us what we want. So we’re in the process of putting the desired, the desired characters together and basically it’s people who are passionate about
improving the welfare of dogs, with good communication skills, and the ability to work as a team. I’ve seen already even on the stakeholder group that we’ve got to be awfully careful that people are not disruptive and are not putting forward a team effort. So I think that’s important. We've identified eight areas for specific expertise if you like. But some people will have more
than one skill so if I just run through those. The first is the practise of dog breeding including breed standards and reproduction. Quality is second is quality assurance and enforcement schemes applicable to dog breeding including of course knowledge of the legislation and how its used.

Jemima Harrison
A puppy contract might come under that one?

Sheila Crispin
It could indeed, yes it could indeed, anything of that kind. Thirdly the epidemiology of an inherited disorder in dogs plus a knowledge of other relevant factors such an environmental influences. So that is quite a broad remit. It’s not just knowing the genetics. It’s also knowing from an epidemiological point of view the other confounding factors. And then
fourthly the genetics of disorders in dogs. Obviously that’s crucial. The next one is small animal veterinary practise and here it’s quite nice to have people who have knowledge not just of dogs but of other animals such as cats and rabbits. You probably know that that way in which rabbits for example are identified seems quite a good scheme to have a look at.
Then the next one is dog behaviour and socialization issues. The next one is dog ownership. To have somebody who owns a dog, er being a working or pet dog owner. And finally the effective communication with and education of the public and other stakeholders with regard to dog welfare. In other words somebody who can suggest levers for change if you like. The way
in which you will change things involving all stakeholders. That’s everybody basically who owns a dog who actually likes dogs.

Jemima Harrison
What is your view of the Kennel Club?

Sheila Crispin
I think the Kennel Club has are beginning to rise from… Let me go back. I’ve been involved peripherally um because of course I’ve been chief scrutineer of the eyes scheme on three occasions. The canine health scheme involves the Kennel Club, the British Veterinary Association and the International Sheepdog Society. So in that sense I’ve been involved
with all three from the point of view of the canine health schemes but particularly for eyes for some years because that goes back to very early on in my professional career. Almost as soon as I took an interest in eyes. Now the scheme of course is the British Veterinary Association scheme administered largely and the other two organisations are part within the scheme.
So over the years I have worked peripherally with the Kennel Club on those kind of issues. I’ve only been closely involved with the Kennel Club in terms of changing shall we say more major things such as the conformation of dogs in general and looking at genetic problems since during the Breed Health and Welfare Strategy Group in 2008. Now the just let’s go back a step,
your very first question to me was of being Chairman of the Breed Health group. I’m not.

Jemima Harrison
But you were temporarily.

Sheila Crispin
At the time because it was at that press release that we both were at at the Bateson Enquiry I had just been asked by Pat Bateson if I would chair the stakeholder interim group and actually assumed that I was getting the same request from the Kennel Club. As soon as I realised that it was a different group I said no I can't do this. This is a conflict of interests. I can't do
it. So in fact I have never chaired the Breed Health Group and I have no intention of chairing the Breed Health Group.

Jemima Harrison
It was a mistake?

Sheila Crispin
Oh it was a mistake and as soon as I realised that it was a different group I got straight in touch with the Kennel Club and said please correct this and said please correct this, I can't do it, it would be a distinct conflict of interests. I said for the time being I think I’m doing some good on the Breed Health and Welfare Strategy group. It’s sensible to stay on there. And I’m
very you know I’m very happy to share with you any of the information sheets that I’ve provided for the problem breeds so you can see the huge amount of work that I’ve done. I think actually.

Jemima Harrison
I’d be really keen to see those.

Sheila Crispin
I’ll certainly do that. Now the other thing I think another thing is gtat not only have I been regarded as an insider for the Kennel Club but there's also been the assumption that I’m earning large amounts of money. As I chaired the interim stakeholder group I felt it was absolutely vital that nobody
but nobody could say I had any interest with any one organization. So I have paid for everything I have done out of my own pocket. And I can assure that because I’ve had lots of meetings where I’ve had to drop things at a moment’s notice and travel down from Cumbria I’ve probably spent already several thousand pounds worth of my own money. So it’s rather
galling when you see that oh she's an insider and she's earning lots of amounts of money. No I’m not. I’m paying for it myself.

Jemima Harrison
I’ve seen the former charge but I haven’t seen the latter one about you being paid loads of money.

Sheila Crispin
I think the other thing is that even though I am now the Chairman of the Advisory Council so now have an official role I am still paying all my own expenses until I’ve got the finances sorted out because that shouldn’t fall to the Chairman. Nonetheless this will not take off unless I can make sure that I have some kind of funding in place before the council is appointed.
Jemima Harrison
Should you have resigned your honorary membership of the Kennel Club?

Sheila Crispin
Er no I don’t think so because if I did that would I also have to resign my life membership of the International Sheepdog Society? I find it odd that people with integrity are not regarded as able to put the conflicts of interest to one side and you know wherever there is a conflict of interest one does step aside and doesn’t take any [INAUDIBLE] and of course that will happen
I’m sure with the Advisory Council. There will be occasions when members will declare conflicts of interests and that may well apply to me. But I think if you have objectivity and personal integrity and that is key and if you're honest and then why should it make any difference. You could argue that it’s actually better to be involved than to stand aside and snipe.

Jemima Harrison
You alluded that at the stakeholder meetings you were dealing with a variety of personalities and views. Are you thinking now is the time to all be nice to each other?

Sheila Crispin
Well it’s not a case of being nice. At the very first meeting knowing how how difficult it was to get some of the bodies into the same room and get them talking to each other I started off by saying we must put aside our past differences. Whatever they maybe… I’ve no doubt we may have problems in the future but we’re all here with immense goodwill to do good things
for dogs. I said on that basis we can move forward. And yes, it’s a fragile peace but it has moved forward because we’ve all felt that we’re going to improve things for dogs. And on that basis we’ve moved forward.

Jemima Harrison
The relationship with the Kennel Club is a key one. It’s specifically an Advisory Council?

Sheila Crispin
And there are two key words. One is independent and the other is advisory. The independence is why we couldn’t be affiliated with any one organisation. It had to make sure that we worked in conjunction with all organisations that have an interest in dogs and indeed individuals and breeders as well. And the other of course is advisory. You're quite right it’s an advisory council
which is very similar to for example the Farm Animal Welfare Council, the Companion Animal Welfare Council. Their advisory role is the key part of their function.

Jemima Harrison
Some would say, me included, that the Kennel Club has been ignoring good advice for a very long time. What makes you confident that the Advisory Council will be effective?

Sheila Crispin
Well that’s a good question, Jemima, and I suppose one could apply that also to certain breed clubs and societies. There will always be groups of people who feel for a variety of reasons that they can deal better with the issues than an advisory council. Having said that as a scientist I think that if one can produce good science based information it is much more difficult for
people to ignore. So I think …

Jemima Harrison
They have though, haven’t they?

Sheila Crispin
It’s a mixture of science and diplomacy. Yes I have to say that you know I’m old enough now to realise that all I want to achieve in life is not achievable. But that doesn’t stop me trying.

Jemima Harrison
Ronnie Irving is, perhaps, ruing the day when he said he didn’t want a bunch of scientists telling him what to do but of course he's got quite a senior bunch of scientists now telling him what to do.

Sheila Crispin
Well telling the 37.5% of the Kennel Club registered dogs is not.. it is not…. I really I do feel that we don’t any of us progress, and that includes people like you, who do a huge amount of good if we cannot think beyond looking at an organisation. Um you know it’s clear that other you know for example I know that the International Sheepdog Society worries on occasion about
how the Animal Welfare Act is fairly applied to some of the working collies because we know that some of them do spend a lot of time locked up in sheds, and only come out when they're working which is not a very nice life for a dog. So you know one has to be terribly careful in aiming one’s firepower at one organisation and perhaps letting others slip through the net
that also need help and assistance in trying to do the best things for dogs.

Jemima Harrison
But 37.5% is almost half the dogs in this country, ostensibly being looked after by an organisation that claims to have dogs best interests at heart. The Kennel Club is a fair target surely?

Sheila Crispin
I think, yes, there is no reason why one can't try and change things with any organisation including the Kennel Club but as you well know there are ways of working with organisations and sometimes confrontation happens and it’s the only way left but I’m afraid I always try all the other approaches first because I do feel that a lot of the damage that’s been done is because
we’ve got faction A fighting faction B, and and quite frankly we’ve had statements made, including some of those on your programme, which far from producing collaboration just produces people flouncing off in all direction. That’s not the way to change things.

Jemima Harrison

Sheila Crispin
I could give you plenty but I’m not going to.

Jemima Harrison
I can take it….

Sheila Crispin
No it’s not aimed at you.

Jemima Harrison
But my programme?

Sheila Crispin
No I think I think your programme as I said right at the outside I think I think it was perhaps the shock tactic that actually shook a lot of us out of complacency including the veterinary profession. This is not just aimed at one organisation. I do think that there are areas that we had to address and this gave much more urgency to addressing them. So in that sense I
absolutely salute your programme. But as if often the case when people get the oxygen of publicity if you like they say things which I think are not exactly likely to help in terms of sorting out the very problems that you’ve raised and that surely is at our heart. You’ve raised the problems. You’ve got a general acceptance from anybody that yes there are problems and we should
address them. We’ll address them much more easily if we can talk to each other.

Jemima Harrison
Are you meaning some of the breeders saying stupid things in the programme?

Sheila Crispin
There were a number of people making comments. One was a veterinary surgeon. You can almost certainly guess that I’m not going to say. I don’t think… That’s unprofessional and I’m sorry I don’t act unprofessionally. Others were indeed some of the breeders who perhaps again showed that they were rather ill-informed. And again non-science based. And that
worries me because that’s absolutely education. Education. Education. Education.

Jemima Harrison
Is it their fault they're not educated?

Sheila Crispin
That’s a good question. To an extent it is. I think one of the problems these days and I find this thinking about it perhaps one of the most difficult things to address. I try sometimes to go on the internet er as if I was somebody wanting my first dog with absolutely no knowledge at all and I have to say I find it extremely confusing. Because I find it very difficult to sort out
the good information from the indifferent information from the frankly misleading information. Furthermore if I then decide I might want to buy my puppy via the internet I then move into very dangerous territory and I think, my goodness me, is this really a good place to buy a puppy and of course at that point my veterinary training and everything else kicks in and I can
no longer be what I’m trying to be which is the innocent with no knowledge of dog breeding.

Jemima Harrison
Education is something that I feel strongly about. I did do a fair amount of beating-up of the Kennel Club in my dealings with them over the question of education. I felt they were in a position to be giving good information to potential puppy buyers and they weren't doing it. There is still nothing on the KC website about inbreeding or genetic diversity. Couldn’t the
Kennel Club be doing better in terms if its educational remit?

Sheila Crispin
I think we would I think everyone involved in education always feels they can do better, me included, and it’s interesting. You may be right on the aspects of genetic diversity, inbreeding, although I suspect they will feel that their links with the Animal Health Trust will mean that it’s the Animal Health Trust who perhaps does more of the publicity and education for those
topics which no doubt is one of the reasons why the Kennel Club has given them substantial funding. And yes it links in with the Kennel Club website. I think linking of websites is crucial. Um from the point of view of other types of education you know I’ve spent a lot of time going in to talk to various Kennel Club health seminars over the years and it takes up a lot of time
but I feel it’s important for me to do it. But of course that’s with my ophthalmology hat on and I’ve talked about the problems, the inherited and genetic problems in all breeds of dog including some of the crossbred breeds which produce interesting problems of their own and you know what we can do about it. So I have been involved in quite a lot of education
on the Kennel Club’s behalf over the years and I’ve no doubt that this will be something that the Advisory Council does as well. And we need, we need really to all get together on that. The more we can collaborate in terms of educational seminars, decent up to date websites and everything else, so much to the good. I think in a sense you’ve hit one of the nails on the head
because I agree with you that I think the most difficult area for getting really good quality advice from all sources, because [INAUDIBLE] you can go onto the website of Dogs Trust, RSPCA, Kennel Club to an extent International Sheepdog Society, and get a lot of information about puppies. You can also do the same now with BVA. But wouldn’t it be much better
if we had one interlinked website that did the lot and you knew that that was really good quality information.

Jemima Harrison
A friend of mine recently helped for my help in buying a Golden Retriever puppy. I thought this will be a good challenge for me. I have to say I’ve given up. I couldn’t find what I’m looking for which is fully-health-tested working line Goldie. The working breeders I talked to had not done all the required health weren't testing.
There is definitely a need for coherence of education.

Sheila Crispin
I agree and actually you raise. I agree with you absolutely and you raise another interesting point and that there is almost on occasions a dichotomy between the working dogs and the other dogs if you like and the pet dogs kind of fall in the middle. Some people who want to own a pet dog want something that has a good background in terms of working strains and
everything else but perhaps the Labrador Retriever with the greatest dichotomy. The show type [INAUDIBLE] and the working type Labrador are almost looking like different breeds of dog now. I think yes. I mean I’ve helped a number of friends, the two breeds that I have good contacts are indeed the Labrador Retriever and the Border Collie and I have
very good contacts where I can with absolutely openness say these are good sources from which to get your dog and they will then go along and you know do all the right things. See the puppies with their mother and everything else and so far, touch wood, they’ve al been absolutely delighted with the dogs they’ve had. I’ve done that to some extent with the Golden Retriever
but interestingly they’ve all I think been the pet type Retriever rather than a working Retriever. I have a lovely photograph that I stick up from time to time which is actually probably taken around 1930/40 and it’s an outdoor show of Golden Retrievers being judged. They're all beautifully dark coated. They are all very much working, working dogs. It does raise problems.
I’ll give you one obvious one. I remember speaking to a very nice Golden Retriever lady whose dogs eyes I test who happen to be very dark coated retrievers. They're quite beautiful. And I said do you show these dogs. And she said oh no absolutely not. it’s not worth it because the judges only want light coloured retrievers at present and that is the kind of comment
that really does make people like me and no doubt you think because it is not good in terms of breeding and genetic diversity and everything else. But I think the other thing that raises another thing that I think one good thing the Kennel Club has done that we’ve also done on the Breed Health and Welfare Strategy group is to of course make sure that now judges get
better training and they are also checked on in terms of how are they judging and are they judging in what would be regarded as a kind of fair and sensible fashion. So if you like that’s the other end of tackling some of the problems that you were concerned about. it’s not just breeding the dog in the first place it’s making sure that a dog that has poor conformation or has
something that we know is a hereditary defect, such as you know primary glaucoma or whatever, the judging is going to also take into account if you like the fitness of that dog conformation wise and genetic wise. We’re moving slowly but very slowly in that direction.

Jemima Harrison
Do you think show dogs should have to pass some health hurdles?

Sheila Crispin
I have been thinking about this long and hard because certainly it’s interesting that many of the dogs with what I would regard as head conformation and eyelid problems particularly are not those dogs that are presented under the health scheme. To be fair to the Kennel Club they're more than truly aware of this. And we at the moment are exploring ways in which indeed we
could do a health check on those animals so that they come by the time they are shown, if they're shown, they're not in the situation where you think gosh that is really bad publicity for the breed and indeed that it’s been shown under Kennel Club auspices by reflection a very bad reflection on the Kennel Club. So I think the Kennel Club is aware of that and certainly we on
the eye scheme are very aware of that.

Jemima Harrison
You can't ask judges to act as vets in the ring. There are just so many conditions you can't see.

Sheila Crispin
What we’re doing under the eye scheme and it’s very much applicable to other situations is to use a kind of traffic light system. And red would be you don’t breed from this and it’s the situation where you …

Jemima Harrison
You mean the Mate Select Scheme [being developed by the KC]?

Sheila Crispin
No no I mean they may they may have incorporated which is interesting but it actually started with the eye scheme and was being trialled there. Now it’s great if they’ve got that as well because they are then taking up things that we've discussed. I can just at the moment talk on eyes and red is something. red in other words don’t breed. Something that is blinding or painful.
Requires surgical correction or requires constant medical therapy. Now that doesn’t necessarily. That is looking at the dog and the conformation of the dog. There is another there is another part to this which is more complex and that is of course knowing the genetics. I think one has to be rather cautious here. For example you may not realise but we now know that there is
a form of inherited er retinal atrophy in the Dachshund which appears to be linked. One thought. They thought they'd found the genetic test. It appears to be linked to another gene that is nearby. So the test that you pick up for early onset PRA does not pick up those dogs that may actually then go on to develop a later onset GPRA which is apparently linked
but its not. So it’s not a single gene defect. It’s not a single gene. And I think genetic aspects we have to be really careful because so many of them are complex. And in fact in your own breed you know the soft-tissue sarcoma in the Flat Coated Retriever at the moment we don’t know the exact mode of inheritance and it may well be that it’s a kind of multi factorial mode of
inheritance. we’ve got to be really careful on the genetic aspects because what you don’t want is to damn a breed which may have a small gene pool on the basis of one condition where you think you know the genetics but it’s actually the genetics are more complicated than you thought. And this is where the geneticist and the epidemiologists on our Advisory
Council will be absolutely crucial. I don’t pretend for a minute to be an expert.

Jemima Harrison
I agree. I think we have to recognise the limits of DNA tests.

Sheila Crispin
I think you do and I think the other thing that I’m now increasingly aware of, of course, one of the things about the eye scheme is you tend to be really dealing with people who are pretty conscientious because they’re the ones who bring their dogs for tests and so on and so forth. They're not just getting eye tests. They're getting hips, elbows, other genetic tests
possibly. And it’s actually extremely expensive for them. So the other thing I would like to see and its possibly a role for the Advisory Council is that we help in terms of saying that these are the tests that you should carry out and this is how often you should conduct them so that if you like you're coming up with things that are practical and proportionate and not hugely
expensive for somebody whose trying to do all the right things. Now that’s all the people who are trying to do the right things. We’ve touched, not long ago, on those that possibly are never undergoing any tests at all so they at the moment can slip under the radar.Because you know they're not being tested in any way therefore as far as an ignorant pet er pet buyer
is concerned they maybe perfect purely because there aren’t any results at all and that’s obviously nonsense as well because that’s even more unfair to the people who are going through all the tests.

Jemima Harrison
Should the KC be registering puppy farm dogs?

Sheila Crispin
No, of course not. I’m worried about puppy farming and all its aspects. I find it very difficult to get at the truth. I speak to lots of people about this issue because to me it’s a major welfare issue. I think the Kennel Club would be horrified to think that they might be registering puppies from the puppy farms.

Jemima Harrison
No, they admit they do.

Sheila Crispin
This is what I hear but this is where the Kennel Club needs every bit of help to make sure they don’t.

Jemima Harrison
It will be interesting to see what the Advisory Council’s advice is on that. They know that they register them.and they claim they are powerless to do anything particularly on the general register. Is that an issue that the Advisory Council will tackle?

Sheila Crispin
I hope it is as well because I feel really strongly about the various forms of puppy farming and it’s interesting I know most poor people who come to get their dogs eyes examined under the scheme they get the Spanish inquisition if you like because that’s how I learn and that’s how I learn also shall we say about some of the less savoury elements of dog breeding. And
yes I mean I hope there's a role for the Advisory Council here. There is also of course, and this is one of the areas that worries me, because we’re getting formed and we’re trying to start up what I think are really important issues at a time when we know that funding of the very bodies that we need help from, such as local authorities, such as the police, are
all having their funding cut and yet they're the people who should be capable of enforcing what is often quite reasonable legislation but it’s the enforcement of that legislation that seems to fall. So yeah I’m really aware of this and any help that you can give I will be gratefully received because I really do worry about some of these breeding issues for dogs.

Jemima Harrison
The KC has suggested to the Welsh Assembly that volume breeders that are members of the ABS should be exempt from local authority licensing requirements. Is that something you would support?

Sheila Crispin
I believe that in general any, any breeding ideally should be licensed in some way. That’s almost that really is becoming draconian but um I think it makes people think much more carefully about should they be breeding from a dog. And if they are breeding that they're properly educated before they do so. And so I would be perhaps, frighteningly,
it would be interesting to see what view the Advisory Council takes but it seems to me that if we talk about responsible breeding we need a handle on how you can make sure your responsible breeder and the simplest way at present. Two things. One is some form of permanent identification is the first part of it. And the other is that you have identification of the people who
are breeding. So if you like you’ve got permanent identification of a puppy when it’s still with its mother so before it leaves its mother and then you actually have something to trace back to and identification of the people who are doing the breeding. Now surely if one did both of those things it would actually at a stroke help in terms of where people are breeding, how
often they're breeding, what is their knowledge and their expertise before they become breeders. You know there's got to be a way ahead here which is practical and proportionate and where in a sense the cost is on the people who decided that they're going to breed. Because it’s not a luxury. It’s not a luxury to breed from an animal. It’s something where you hope
you make an educated decision that you're going to breed and why are you breeding. In fact yesterday no day befor,e yesterday apropos something else I got onto the internet with a friend of mine and we both, on two different computers, toured the internet just looking at the prices that people were charging for puppies and how they were selling them. And I have to
say it was pretty horrifying because some of the prices are extremely high. And yet rather like your search for the ideal Golden Retriever. A lot of the time I kept thinking well I certainly wouldn’t buy a puppy from here.

Jemima Harrison
With regards to inbreeding, geneticist Steve Jones said in Pedigree Dogs Exposed that unless this is tackled in dogs. “a universe of suffering awaits”. What's your response to that?

Sheila Crispin
I think there was some sense in what he said and I think yes, I think you know one can tackle genetic problems in a number of different ways but the quickest way of course of changing things is usually by out-breeding but even here you’ve got to be rather careful. You know you'll relate to this. Under the eye scheme the other day somebody had looked at a crossbred
which was actually a Golden Retriever, Flat-Coated Retriever crossbred, which had almost a closed-angle. It had really severe [SPECIALIST TERMS] and so again this is where the expertise if you like of everybody who's working on these issues is helpful. My feeling is that the Kennel Club has become less averse to judicious out-breeding. And perhaps one
has to remove the stigma, and it was a stigma in the past, to thinking oh these are wonderful purebreds we mustn’t dilute the wonderful purebred pedigree in any way. Well if we’d helped the survival of species of dog then of course one has to think out of the box and one has to think in that way but again you know one has to be awfully careful about being over simplistic. I’ll
give you another example. A friend of mine had in the past two wonderful dogs. They were a bit of everything. Absolutely superb. She had the two sisters. They looked completely different. It was impossible to say what they'd been bred from. I suspect they had a bit of poodle, a bit of terrier, a bit of this that and the other, um one of the sisters got lymphoma.
and you relate to this because you’ve just reported on lymphoma in what sounded like a very nice collie cross. Because of my contacts with Bristol that dog came in and had chemotherapy and everything else. She had almost five years of perfectly normal life because we got it particularly early because she presented with ocular signs which as you know they're present
in about 30% or so of dogs. She had an absolutely superb normal life and then she went downhill very quickly. By then she was quite an old dog and the decision was much, much more straightforward. But you know there was no... She should have had every bit of hybrid vigour that was going but she didn’t. She was nonetheless susceptible to something which we know is
more common perhaps in Golden Retrievers and some border collies than one would wish.

Jemima Harrison
But these are anecdotal, n =1 cases. You can’t extrapolate much from them.

Sheila Crispin
It just makes me realise that we must be terribly careful in saying pedigree dogs bad, crossbred dogs good. Because that’s not the case. And I’ve had a mixture of dogs over the years and so when we’re looking particularly at the genetic issues if we again look at all dogs the 100% of dogs then I hope we will in that sense address
the problems that Steve Jones raised in that we are looking at the gene pool of dogs rather than the gene pool of a specific breed.

Jemima Harrison
We do need to look at gene pools of specific breeds though, surely?

Sheila Crispin
Well that is true and actually of course if you get to a really perilous state then nature tends to take over for you. And you get to a situation where the breed literally becomes extinct and that can happen too if the gene pool becomes too small particularly if the degree of inbreeding becomes so high is that all you do is produce abnormalities.

Jemima Harrison
But there would be “a universe of suffering” along that way. Some rare breeds have very, very small litters. Some have fertility and fecundity problems. There are lots of indicators there already.

Sheila Crispin
I wouldn’t disagree with that I think you know interestingly and this is a very interesting work in humans as well about the effects that you that you can have on the genetic make up if you start to miniaturise things. And a very good example is that you don’t see lens luxation in the standard size bull terrier but you do in the miniature bull terrier. Now is that a response to
miniaturisation. So yes there are lots of lots of areas I think that are absolutely ripe for investigation.

Jemima Harrison
Should we be rethinking the deliberate breeding of dogs with built -in defects?

Sheila Crispin
Well I think it’s what you say is true. I think one of the things I’ve found as part of my steep learning curvewhen I joined the Breed Health and Welfare Strategy group and we were presented with the breed standards to examine you realise that some of the standards had been made up very much in the era of the horse, you're right. Victorian standards, adopting
anatomical names that came from the horse and not the dog. And one of the things that I would like to see is that we actually become if you like more scientific about this and we have a generic template which is anatomically correct. And then you move away from these rather strange terms which often you're quite right give you what are genetically abnormal er
eye lids or whatever because you say we’ll have an almond-shaped eye or we’ll have a lot of third eye-lid showing. And some of those…

Jemima Harrison
Is there really a breed which demands third eye lid showing?

Sheila Crispin
There was. It’s been changed now. I mean this is the good thing about the hard work the Breed Health and Welfare Strategy group has been doing but the breed standards… I now feel I know them quite well…. some of them did actually have things there which were abnormalities. Now I’m pleased to say that we've gone through all the problem breeds and we’re now `
about to I’ve no doubt launch on some of the others to make sure that we don’t have similar descriptions which are breeding for abnormalities. So now for example you know it no longer says you must breed for a small eye or a protuberant eye. There is common sense attached. Now I don’t think it’s perfect by any means but I do think it’s a big improvement on
what went before.

Jemima Harrison
Have you seen the footage on You Tube of the Kennel Club in 1987 saying they had just completely a review of all the breed standards to ensure that no possibility of exaggeration could …

Sheila Crispin
No I didn’t see that. Hollow laughter there.

Jemima Harrison
In reality some of those changes to outside people seem miniscule. To the breed clubs and owners of these dogs they feel enormous. You say that you’ve put together proposals for breed standard changes that you would recommend?

Sheila Crispin
Some of them are still in process. Interestingly the one that has caused that has been a sticking point is nothing to do with eyes. It’s the roach back in the German Shepherd dog and you probably know that at the moment not all the breeds the German Shepherd dog breed clubs and societies have signed up to it. There's a splinter away from the Kennel Club which is always
what is to me one of the concerns. As soon as you get people who splinter away who say we’ll do our own dog registration and our own thing it may sometimes be worse than the original. That’s our problem with the German Shepherd dog.

Jemima Harrison
But that justification – for doing so little - is what I had from the Kennel Club the whole way through making the film.

Sheila Crispin
Well as I say I pay homage to your film and that I think it provided the shock that was necessary to if you like move things on with more urgency. I agree with you completely that we have to retain that sense of urgency. And so although we have done a lot on the group that I’ve worked on to try and change things I would not under any circumstances be complacent. I
think there is still areas to go but you’ve actually hit the nail on the head. You said that what are tiny changes to those outside may seem that the changes are huge enormously to the breed clubs and societies. And what I don’t want is that those breed clubs and societies flounce off into the middle distance to do their own thing rather than stay within the aegis of the Kennel Club.
So in that sense I do think that massive diplomacy is required to achieve what we want to achieve. An from my point of view as a veterinary surgeon and I hope with the backing of the profession because I think this is something where the profession could and should do more is to you know advise people when they come in with a dog that has gross conformation problems
about why it’s not a good idea to have a dog like that in the first place and to breed from it. So I think it’s a joint problem. I think it is one that the profession should be as strong about as the Kennel Club. And if for example you know working collies started to all have short legs and funny faces then the International Sheepdog Society might like to say well I’m sorry
but you know these are not going to be very good working dogs on the Fells.

Jemima Harrison
The working collies are judged by function and that is what has shaped them. There is no such control with the dogs that are selected purely for looks.

Sheila Crispin
No and I know here I’m going to ask a question of you because you maybe are right but according to my trawling and I found this a very difficult figure to understand… only two percent of Kennel Club registered dogs are shown. That seems extraordinarily small. And therefore what worries me is that two percent they do have an impact well well above the two percent and
in terms of public perception.

Jemima Harrison
That’s exactly the case. The changes in shaping a dog are very much driven by the show ring and it filters down.

Sheila Crispin
I completely agree with you there. I went and spoke at a Kennel Club health seminar and when I did my trawling on the internet beforehand to prepare my conformation of the head particularly because that’s what I was that was my remit, to look at heads, lids, eyes and so on, I have to say I could
not find one Neapolitan Mastiff, for example, that I felt had normal conformation. And actually interestingly at each and every meeting where we have met with breed clubs and societies I have said when I give my little speech on eyes and lids the first thing I say is would you all mind looking at your neighbour. And they do and I say now can you tell me where the lids are in relation to the
eyes. And it then begins to click. So we then move on to the fact that these dogs cannot blink effectively. They get debris falling in to the great chasm that exists because the lids turn outwards. They can't spread their tear-film effectively so they get secondary corneal pathology. It is hard -hitting stuff. And hopefully this will change quite a lot but unless they out
cross it will not change within immediate generations. Outcrosses can do it very quickly or breeding to the perfect specimen but then you’ve got to be awfully careful you don’t overuse the perfect specimen. So the will is there but it is not an overnight change I’m afraid. And I find this, I can assure you, as frustrating as I’m sure you do. Because I worry that…
I mean there is a big welfare indication for this one. In a sense that’s why the double approach is I hope beginning to achieve things which is not just us sitting down with the breed clubs and societies and changing the breed standards but making sure that the judges exercise much more common sense. For example now they shouldn’t actually be judging any
dog that shows ocular discomfort when it comes into the ring.

Jemima Harrison
Shows what, sorry?

Sheila Crispin
Shows ocular discomfort when it comes into the ring.

Jemima Harrison
It’s astonishing to think they ever did. CAWC has suggested as a thought-piece that some breeds may not be justifiable on welfare grounds. You're dealing with ten of the most extreme breeds conformationally as part of the KC’s Dog Health Group. Do you feel there are some breeds unacceptable in their current form?

Sheila Crispin
Well I think that if I was sitting here as a benign dictator which would be very nice but it hasn’t happened yet I would I think the follow up to all we’ve done and I think there is going to be follow up but I think you then start putting a little bit more the iron fist in the velvet glove where you say this is the time period in which we expect to see great changes for the better. If not, then
you really do have to start thinking of whether those dogs… what other punishment. What other sanctions you can impose. Because I agree you do not want to have dogs that have what we call a low-grade misery throughout their life.

Jemima Harrison
How long are you going to give the bulldog breeders?

Sheila Crispin
Well I think the bulldog breeders believe it or not already are breeding for a slightly smaller head. There seems to be work going on about the number of caesarean sections a bitch can have between one and two before it’s not bred from again. There is some debate about the number. But actually I think the Kennel Club is at the moment being slightly stronger than
some of the vets are. So that is happening. And obviously if an animal has to be spayed after having the first or second caesarean section you are making quite a difference in terms of what can be produced by that breed.

Jemima Harrison
Is that up and running yet?

Sheila Crispin
No it’s not it’s still being discussed and I think the sticking point, it’s not really a sticking point, but the debate is between one and two [C-sections]. Er because obviously what you don’t want is to have a system that can be abused and the it’s much easier of course if you said one caesarean section because then as soon as you get an animal with a with a scar from the caesarean section
you know she's had one caesarean section whereas as soon as you start having multiple caesarean sections it’s much more difficult if the surgery is good to know how many she's actually had so I think it’s a sticking point. Is the common sense application of being able to judge how many caesarean sections a dog has had if people choose not to be honest about it.

Jemima Harrison
Was the KC right to have banned mother son mating?

Sheila Crispin
Oh yes I think the some of the matings were too close. Yes. Yep.

Jemima Harrison
Can you see any circumstances in which they are acceptable?

Sheila Crispin
The idea of mother/son which is as I say as Patrick Bateson pointed out rather nicely if it happens in humans it’s incest… I think that actually says all you need to know about my views. No. I think you'd find it very difficult. it’s quite interesting because of course you know looking at rare breeds in general and this happened of course during foot and mouth disease
where you had very rare breed lines and there was a discussion as to whether, you know, you spared those animals… And particularly of course if they were healthy animals from being killed as a kind of continuous or three-kilometre culling. And if you didn’t, whether you actually collect the semen from those animals so that had a storage of the genetics.
So there is always that of course in this day and age. But I don’t think it’s entirely satisfactory. I think it’s a kind of last ditch effort.

Jemima Harrison
Pat Bateson feels that granddaughter grandfather is still too close. Is that your view?

Sheila Crispin
Yeah I subscribe to Pat’s view and I think that’s what… we should aim to move away from that in time, but I think at the moment we may have to accept that it’s going to happen from time to time but I think the the optimum is, yes, to move away from that. It’s interesting actually ,you’ve touched on something that has also fired something else off, you are quite right
this is a situation where humans do have profound effects on a species which is the dog. And I suppose an awful lot of animals kept as pets you could argue the same and we know for example that I don’t know whether the CAWC report you referred to is the one that looked at companion animals generally in 2006 but it was very wide ranging and began to pick up all the emerging
problems and exotic things and fish and so on. I find as an environmentalist I find this a very interesting area because you know we’re losing species at a rate of knots but not those that we keep as pets and companion animals. In those we’re doing something else which can be equally harmful in that we’re bending them to our ideals and some of those ideals I have to say
are remarkably strange.

Jemima Harrison
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

Sheila Crispin
It must be. But I do feel that you know these are sentient animals and perhaps they deserve a little bit more than they get. We are a very destructive species and we you know we end up destroying the very things that we purport to love if we’re not careful.

Jemima Harrison
Do you need to step outside the box to be able to see the situation more clearly?

Sheila Crispin
Well I hope I do that. I mean I think you know I’ve touched on the environmental aspects. I’m a committed and remarkably knowledgeable environmentalist so I do step outside the box. I look at what is happening to the planet. And it also means that if you step outside the box and look at what's happening to the planet you then have to look very carefully
at the animals that inhabit the planet with you. And just as there is over- breeding of humans, and this is perhaps politically incorrect, but it’s true… Once we get… if we do get to a figure of nine billion in 2030 we are beyond the earth’s resources. We are beyond the planet’s resources. So it’s obviously madness to proceed along those lines. But equally you could argue
that if we have huge over-production of animals, be they pet dogs or anything else, that too is equally harmful in terms of the resource of the planet. So with my environmental aspect hat on I do look at the greater good of the planet.

Jemima Harrison
There is a disconnect there for me. How do you square those two things?

Sheila Crispin
I’m sure I think I have a funny feeling that we will be [INAUDIBLE] in equal measure by all parties which may be an element of success. So in other words although I’m I really do believe in diplomacy and collaboration but I’m under no illusions that on occasions we have to be tougher than that on a number of issues. But I do strongly believe that working with organisations
is better than working totally outside them. But this I agree. I know that people will think it’s very difficult not to have conflicts of interest but I think it is possible. I think if you're a good scientist you can give unequivocal scientific advice and there is no doubt that some bodies will not like the advice they're given. But the fact of the matter is that it’s based on good science and
therefore even if they don’t like it it makes it much more likely that you it will be a driving force for good. Now yes things may move frustratingly slowly on occasions. But if I can keep on showing the work I do at the moment I’m just one area and when the advisory council comes into force in lots of areas then people should take note of what we’re saying and doing. And if we have
the stakeholders behind us, and the stakeholders of course as I said at the beginning, it’s everyone who likes dogs. And has an interest in dogs. Mostly they will keep dogs. But some of them may just like dogs. We will then bring them with us. And I’m a great believer in public opinion. You must have seen this after the Pedigree Dogs Exposed programme. You would have
a range of responses to that programme. And they would cover if you like all reflections of society.

Jemima Harrison
The Kennel Club has said they don’t see the need for the Dog Advisory Council and they will not fund it. What’s you're response to that?

Sheila Crispin
Well it rather goes back on some of the things they’ve said previously. I would think it would be extremely disappointing if they did maintain that line because as I have said to them directly the crucial word about the Advisory Council is the word Independent Advisory Council. I think that could be helpful to the Kennel Club because it takes away some of the
criticisms that the Kennel Club get directly and potentially heaps it onto the Advisory Council. So in that sense if I was the Kennel Club I’d be absolutely delighted because it would take some of the flak away from them.

Jemima Harrison
So you think it could be helpful to the Kennel Club in that way?

Sheila Crispin
Yeah so they could say that. They have got the advice unequivocally on a certain issue. They may not like it but they’ve got the advice and if it offends people in equal measure, which it may do, it’s still is kinder to the Kennel Club because the adverse criticism of what the Advisory Council has suggested is aimed at the Advisory Council and only indirectly to the Kennel Club.
so in that sense I would have thought they should regard this as a very useful thing to have.

Jemima Harrison
They can pass the buck?

Sheila Crispin
I wouldn’t say it’s passing the buck Jemima. I think I think it is allowing the Advisory Council to maintain an independent stance on things that we feel are are our remit in terms of a good science based a good science based advice.

Jemima Harrison
What is your view of the RSPCA’s Mark Evans’ description of dog shows in Pedigree Dogs Exposed as “a parade of mutants… of diseased deformed and disabled dogs” ?

Sheila Crispin
I don’t think that is a good way of entering into meaningful debate. I really don’t think that is a good approach.

Jemima Harrison
It had shock value.. which perhaps was useful?

Sheila Crispin
It did but how accurate was it? It’s interesting. I was involved in you know where do we go from here issues after the Pedigree Dogs Exposed programme and spent some time going round Crufts and it was great because normally when I’m at Crufts I’m doing goodwill things like manning the BVA stand but on this occasion I
was able to wander round and look at everything that Crufts offered. Now there were some areas where there were dogs being prepared for the show ring and I thought gosh that is certainly not the kind of thing I can relate to at all but then I would wander a few yards up and I’d come across a very nice breed and think oh that’s OK. So I have to say I didn’t see any freak
mutants. I saw some over-powdered dogs, not my idea at all, you know, but they were being prepared for the show ring and they were kind of powder puff dogs and so on and so forth. That’s not my idea of fun but they weren't actually mutants. They just looked rather overdressed for the occasion.

Jemima Harrison
So you didn’t see any Neapolitan mastiffs then?

Sheila Crispin
No. But you see at the moment am I right in thinking that they're not recognised for show purposes by the Kennel Club? I don’t think they're one of the breeds that can be shown at Crufts.

Jemima Harrison
They are shown at Crufts.

Sheila Crispin
Well I haven’t ever seen any at Crufts is all I’d say.

Jemima Harrison
So what about Bulldogs and Pekes and Shar-peis and German Shepherds?

Sheila Crispin
Yes I funnily enough I watched the German Shepherd dogs this time. This was the first time I went and first and last time I actually watched them for presentation. Yes I was unhappy about some of the German Shepherd dogs I saw. I didn’t see any obvious gross eyelid defects in any of the other breeds. But of course it’s more difficult to pick those up at a distance. The
gait of a dog is much easier to assess than the other things. And so I was viewing those from a distance. The German Shepherd the rather poor hips and roach back was apparent even at Crufts this time.

Jemima Harrison
What is your opinion of the Accredited Breeder Scheme?

Sheila Crispin
For me the jury is rather out on that one. I … think the idea of course. I’m just going to change phones the battery is going on this one.


Jemima Harrison
Why did you go for the job?

Sheila Crispin
Because I care about dogs and actually the thing that had shocked… Because I was on the Bateson enquiry advisory board and the thing that shocked me on there was not really so much the pedigree dog issue as the other issues of… The circumstances in which some dogs are kept. Soo you're back to your accredited breeders scheme and to this business of how you
identify not just the breeder but also the dog because I think that is a good start in these things. And so it was really because I cared about all dogs that I thought yes this is going to be a terribly difficult job in many respects um but I can't just complain and not do anything. And also I also sit on the Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group which for some years has been trying to
change er to the concept of deed not breed. So also because we are dealing on that group with people including er the police force we hear the most dreadful examples of dogs that are bred as status dogs, fighting dogs, and so on. And the damage that they inflict in the wider community to other animals.

Jemima Harrison
How are you going to deal with all this in your six to 12 days a year?

Sheila Crispin
Well the answer is I can't. I mean I’ve already spent. Well probably be a multi millionaire if I charged for my time. I think it’s as Chairman I can't possibly do it within that time but I can assure you that the time I spend outside the kind of broader remit of the 12 days a year will be my free time. I will in other words I will finance my own efforts. So it’s an extremely good
bargain from that point of view. One of the disadvantages if you like of being semi retired is that you can take on these things knowing that you can commit time to them er and try and make a go of it. What I think the first year is going to be absolutely the most critical. The fundraising for us and then the Council in place and when the council is in place we really can finesse
what is possible to achieve. At the moment we’re dealing in hypotheticals. We all know that there are certain things we would like to do but I don’t think it’s right that I decide them on behalf of the advisory council. I don’t think that it’s right that the stakeholder group should either because it’s for the Advisory Council to decide the priorities. So at this stage we can have the broad
outlines of what we hope to do er and then we can finesse them when the Advisory Council is in place. But I’m sure from my point of view that I will spend an awful lot more than 12 days a year and it’ll be unpaid.

Jemima Harrison
The Accredited Breeders Scheme… in what ways could you see this being improved?

Sheila Crispin
Well I think the ideal would be that eventually everybody who breeds from an animal is accredited in some way so in that sense it should be a universal scheme irrespective of whether you're the one off pet owners who feels that it’s desirable for your dog to have a litter of puppies because that’s what your neighbour has told you to people who are doing it commercially

Jemima Harrison
But there are many breeders who don’t want to join the ABS, and not least because they think it doesn’t have teeth.

Sheila Crispin
I suspect that… It’s a bit like you saying that I would love to ensure that all dogs are permanently identified before they leave their mum so that everyone you know can tie it to where they originate. I’m quite sure I can't achieve that overnight. My feeling is that I would give a kind of five year lead in to something that actually has teeth. And I suspect there is a certain
element in that in the Accredited Breeders Scheme. At present I suspect that people are being encouraged to join and that once the it begins to have… I don’t know… It’s a bit like the veterinary surgeons practise standards scheme. Once you’ve got to a certain number you can then start to be slightly more prescriptive in how it runs because you’ve got people who've joined.
So in other words you don’t want to make it over prescriptive at this point so that people say we’re not going to join that. But I know what you're saying and I have heard from a number of sources that there isn't enough guarantee of what happens after you’ve had your health checks and so on, to give it teeth. So it lacks teeth.

Jemima Harrison
One of the recommendations given out at the KC’s own health seminars is you should not be breeding from dogs with greater than half the mean hip score for the breed. But under ABS you can and people do. There are no sanctions

Sheila Crispin
Hmm yes.

Jemima Harrison
Don’t you think it is absurd?

Sheila Crispin
It is absurd. I agree that kind of thing is absurd. If you're sure of the science that underlies your recommendation. I’m not an expert on hips but I gather there are a number of different ways of assessing hips and some are more favoured than others. You know outside this country some of the continental schemes.

Jemima Harrison
Such as the PennHIP scheme, which in my view is superior and should be adopted here?

Sheila Crispin
I’m not an expert on that but it would seem that unless you're about to lose the breed because there is hardly any left then really in a breed with an awful lot of dogs it would be mad not to say don’t breed from these dogs if you’ve got a hip score of so-and-so. So in other words that’s what I mean by the teeth. If you're having various health screening programmes as
part of the Accredited Breeders Scheme then there has to be if you like a some way of applying sanctions if the dog has got a rotten hip score.

Jemima Harrison
So it should be beefed-up?

Sheila Crispin
Well I think, yes, I mean I think again it comes back to the traffic light system. What one hopes one would do if to say these are the test results that we take seriously as red light conditions, don’t breed. And these are the ones we regard as amber where it’s almost breeder choice as in the CERF scheme in the States. And these are the green ones. And so we say aren’t you lucky
you’ve got the perfect dog.


Jemima Harrison
Are you suggest that if you’ve got a small gene pool or limited choice in the breed perhaps you might lower the selection criteria?

Sheila Crispin
I don’t. My honest answer is I don’t have expertise to comment on that kind of thing. I know that in the past that’s been one of the occasions when people have decided that an out-cross is actually desirable. Um so I would take advice from my geneticists on that one.

Jemima Harrison
But if a breed is in such a state that the only option, in the breeders’ view, is to breed from sub-standard stock, surely that is the time to consider the viability of a breed?

Sheila Crispin
Well I think I think again it almost raises that ethical issue that we talked about earlier on that you’ve got to decide whether nature is trying to tell you something about the breed. Um you know if there are lots of other desirable traits within the breed then it maybe that you say OK you don’t regard this with same rating if you like as what everyone I hope puts at the top
of their list which is the temperament of the dog. So these are not black and white things to decide but I think it is a situation where something like the Accredited Breeders scheme can give good sound advice in terms of how you deal with a situation like that. and I hope it is very much based on the information that comes from the geneticists and particularly at place
like the Animal Health Trust.

Jemima Harrison
APGAW gave the Kennel Club a year to put its house in order and that year is up in November. Are you hoping to work with APGAW?

Sheila Crispin
Oh absolutely yes. I’ve just seen the new membership and very much so. Yes.

Jemima Harrison
It has a great new chair.

Sheila Crispin
Yes and I think you know to me all these collaborative efforts are absolutely crucial because apart from anything else they begin to de-personalise it. I think the thing I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this but the thing that I do find distressing, and that is the right word, is the fighting that goes on at different levels. You know at the level of the individual to
the level of some of the various bodies involved. And it is actually to the detriment of the dogs when you start getting that. So I regard bodies like APGAW as absolutely crucial.

Jemima Harrison
How long do we give you and by what criteria should we judge?

Sheila Crispin
You don’t give me… You give the Advisory Council. So as from when the Advisory Council is formed I think you see what you achieve in the first year.

Jemima Harrison
What criteria should we judge you on?

Sheila Crispin
By the quality of any reports that we produce and by what actually happens. So two things really. So in other words are we producing reports that nobody listens to or are you producing reports that people say yes, good, we’ll do it.

Jemima Harrison
Do we need more reports?

Sheila Crispin
No I think in some respects we can act as a putting together of available information on certain aspects and making sure that they are put in the public domain very quickly for action.

Jemima Harrison
If action doesn’t follow, will you be recommending legislation? Or perhaps secondary legislation under the existing Animal Welfare Act?

Sheila Crispin
Well we’re in interesting times. Not least of course because we now have different legislation to deal with and in different parts of the country. Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England all coming up with slightly different legislation. Now sometimes I think that rather than reinvent the wheel if you think the legislation for say tail docking in Scotland is
the legislation you would like to follow then everyone should adopt it, but it’s not so simple as you know. And that will be that actually coming back to your question about the Animal Welfare Act is an interesting one because we know that the codes are not legally enforceable codes. They're recommendations and a lot of them are absolute common sense.
Within the existing legislation I think provided it’s enforced you don’t actually have to rush through too much additional legislation. As you know under the last government we had 3000 new bits of criminal legislation which is crazy because you simply can't draw up good legislation at that kind of rate. So I would always look very carefully at what the existing legislation
is and see how it can be best used and and as I said to you at the beginning one of my concerns is not that the legislation isn't there but it can't be applied effectively because of the cutbacks that we’re going to find in all the very bodies that we rely on.

Jemima Harrison
Is the future health of pedigree dogs safe under the Kennel Club auspices?

Sheila Crispin
That’s an interesting one. Um … this is not a… I’m not opting out here but I feel I don’t feel that we know enough about the very many activities that the Kennel Club involves itself in. You pointed out what you perceive to be the effects at the puppy end. I see that there seems to be quite good approaches to perhaps young people getting into dogs. You know
the young Kennel Club member things. Um so I think it’s probably a bit of a curate’s egg. There will be some areas where they know they can improve and others where they feel they're already doing quite a good job.

Jemima Harrison
But the Advisory council wouldn’t be set up at all if it was truly felt that the future of dogs was safe in the Kennel Club’s hands.

Sheila Crispin
Well it goes back further than that of course so in that sense it’s not a cop out. The original CAWC report of 2006 which was about companion animals in general came up with the idea that some kind of independent body. Then as a direct result really of your programme you had the RSPCA-commissioned report followed by APGAW followed by the Bateson
Enquiry all of which said the same thing. And the crucial thing was the independent nature. That I thinkis the bit that the Kennel Club finds most difficult to accept and in that I think they're wrong not to accept it because I think it is helpful to them to have a group that is independent of anybody.

Jemima Harrison
They rather memorably dismissed the CAWC report as being “over-emotional and unscientific”.

Sheila Crispin
Yes I do remember those comments and now.. again you see this is where one has to be so careful in what they say on what anyone says because these comments come back to haunt everybody. You know I … well I hope I’m as open and transparent as I can possibly be because I know that it’s very easy for some of the things I’ve said today to be misquoted and to be
used inappropriately. Nonetheless I hope I’ve given you a fair hearing of what I actually think. But I agree with you that sometimes we step backwards because people make these very almost off the cuff comments which are anything but helpful to their cause.

Jemima Harrison
What do you hope to achieve?

Sheila Crispin
The end of puppy farming. Um in its less desirable aspects. You know in a sense it’s a bit like the having a status dog. Perhaps one should look very carefully at the terminology. The puppy farm terminology is actually emotive in its own sense. Because of course there are farms and farms. But when we talk about puppy farmers we know that we mean the kind of
unregulated over-production. Or even regulated. Ove- production of puppies. With all the kind of the follow up that that brings and that we know how many dogs are abandoned each year. We know that in a time of recession you're going to get more dogs abandoned rather than fewer. So you want to stop it at source. So it seems to me that you start with
that. And so if you like that’s something that I would really hope to achieve value for all dogs. And then in addition.

Jemima Harrison
So the end of puppy farms? What else?

Sheila Crispin
Specific genetic and inherited and breed conformation problems which are largely but not exclusively pedigree dogs and I have to say some first generation crossbreds and indeed subsequent generation of crossbreds. You know again I’ve seen people who've bred the kind of as you well know the various doodle crosses are very popular. But some of them have
the very problems that you’ve got in the original pedigree dog.

Jemima Harrison
As you'd expect. Bad breeding is bad breeding.

Sheila Crispin
Exactly. Exactly. So you know we have to we have to have a….

Jemima Harrison
But if they weren't in the pedigree dogs in the first place..

Sheila Crispin
No, no, no I mean we know that there are genetic and conformation problems in most breeds of dog and probably over represented um in pedigree dogs and in pure bred dogs. Not just Kennel Club registered dogs. Just pure bred dogs in general.

Jemima Harrison
You can't say an end to genetic and breed conformation problems that’s unrealistic but …

Sheila Crispin
No a practical and proportionate approach which is all the stakeholders. So it’s people saying I don’t want to have a dog that looks like that. It’s educating people that sometimes in over-exaggerating what they feel to be desirable characteristics they’re breeding for distinct abnormalities. The support of the Kennel Club and the people who breed dogs in making
sure that dogs of that type are no longer bred from. So in other words trying to be sensible at source if you like. Now all that will come into the approach which is a collaborative approach.

Jemima Harrison
How could you phrase that, in terms of the impact on the dogs, in terms of genetics and breed conformation?

Sheila Crispin
I think a dog that has a good quality of life. In other words it’s not blinking excessively or has ocular pain or anything like that. So a good quality of life. And with the aim ultimately of moving back to a dog. The Kennel Club’s Fit For Function, Fit for Life, but really, really getting back to the kind of core of what that dog did in the past and so we would actually get back to dogs that
can do what it says on the tin.

Jemima Harrison
Some dogs were only ever bred as pets. What would you hope for them?

Sheila Crispin
Well again that they have a good quality of life and that means that again gathering and this is I think is a huge remit but nonetheless it’s one that we will try and help to coordinate. It won't be us to do it because we haven’t got the capacity. but it’s something that certainly we should be doing because as you know every enquiry has said there really isn't very much information
on the kind of health and disease issues of dogs.

Jemima Harrison
A former student of yours [Paul McGreevy/University of Sydney], is going to be tackling that one, isn’t he?

Sheila Crispin
Yes I know there are there are some very good people involved in doing this kind of things. You're talking about Paul there?

Jemima Harrison

Sheila Crispin
Yes, absolutely excellent and we’ll work closely with people like Paul because they will be crucial in terms of helping supply the information that we can't you know that we would not be able to gather it all because we simply have got other things to do. But it seems to me that if you look at the genetic and conformation problems is a really good place to start. But you need to
prioritise what are the the problems that you feel are of particular relevance in the breeds of dog that you wish to look at which maybe pedigree dogs, it may be pure bred dogs, it may include crossbred dogs. But you're looking at the quality of life issues for all those dogs.

Jemima Harrison
The Kennel Club turned down funding for Paul when he went to get funding to develop the disease surveillance scheme. The RSPCA has put their money where their mouth is on that particular issue. This is a critically important initiative.

Sheila Crispin
I agree. I agree. And you asked a question that required an accurate answer at the beginning and quite rightly I said we don’t have those figures because you are right the figures are thrown about all over the place and that’s where I think that people like Paul can make a big difference. Paul is a good friend and one of the things I discussed with him early on because it’s
something that certainly concerns me is the quality of information that is fed in. And you obviously have to set different levels of competence if you like in terms of how accurate the information is. Now I’ll give you an obvious example. If I set up a survey, say I was still teaching university students and I was still teaching veterinary undergraduates, and I decide
that I’m going to look at the eyelid problems in a certain breed… I brief the students to the exact criteria needed. But the chances are that their diagnostic ability is rather lower than mine because I’m the specialist and they're not and that will be true of everybody who gathers data for surveillance purposes including of course those in general practise where they're not necessarily
particularly good on ocular complaints. Those that involve the eye, if you got them to do a survey of retinal conditions in a dog you would not get good quality information because you're moving into a more specialist area. So I’m very aware and I think what Paul has done in the work he's done before is to build in different levels of confidence so that even though you know
your figures aren’t wonderful they're still better than what we have at present because you're trying to collect information from a very broad church recognising that some of it is not as good quality as you'd wish.

Jemima Harrison
That is the biggest criticism of the KC health survey - that they only sent the survey forms to breed clubs.

Sheila Crispin
I think that’s right and I think you know that’s where I think the epidemiologists that will be on the Advisory Council will be absolutely crucial because I do feel that probably a lot of very well meaning people can waste a huge amount of time doing what they think are really good things for their breed and actually they're not collecting the right information. And this is often typical
of student projects. Unless you get the epidemiologist and the statistician to look at the project before it starts you end up with all this unrelated data most of which to be honest is irrelevant and you can't analyse it. So I’m really aware of that and I think that is something that we can really help with.

Jemima Harrison
This applies, too, to breed clubs organising their own surveys?

Sheila Crispin
They do and I mean you know one of the problem areas as you probably know is because it’s potential is devastating one is flatcoated retrievers with the potential for primary glaucoma. Now what I would like answering and what I’m quite sure you would like answering as an owner of Flatcoats is when I look at the angle of your dog is that dog going to develop
glaucoma or is it also even if it’s not going to develop glaucoma is it one that I can breed from. And at the moment we can't actually for almost any breed give unequivocal advice.

Jemima Harrison
There's been talk of a universal puppy contract. The BVA Animal Welfare Foundation and the RSPCA are involved in its development. Any views?

Sheila Crispin
I think it’s a great idea. I think I think the more we can do of that type the better because it all goes back to responsible breeding followed by responsible ownership. In other words it sets out for the two sides what's expected on each side of the contract and provided it can be legally enforced without becoming overly expensive then I think great, good for them.


Sheila Crispin
I think the really important Jemima is that we all act for the good of dogs. And that means that the more we can share the better. We may not we many not always agree but the fact of the matter is that we’re talking to each other and we’re trying to affect things which we hope will make things better in the short term let alone the long term.
Jemima Harrison
Thank you very much