More than a few wrinkles at Crufts...

While we loved the Best in Show winner, in other areas there is still considerable room for improvement - check out Jemima Harrison's blog and then read this letter just in from the RSPCA.

And if you look at the jaw-dropping comments on Jemima's blog you'll see there seems to be a hard core of people who seem to think there's nothing wrong with Neapolitan Mastiffs....the most frequent entry to our monthly caption competition comes to mind, "should have gone to Specsavers?" I can't look at those photos without getting upset - and remember these are the creme de la creme....

Open letter to Kennel Club chief executive Rosemary Smart.

I am writing to express the RSPCA’s grave concern about the coverage of Crufts on More 4 during which interviewees and presenters repeatedly gave the message that pedigree dogs, including those shown at Crufts, are happy and healthy.

This is misleading to the public and extremely disappointing as we had hoped the coverage would be open and honest about the serious health and welfare issues that continue to affect many pedigree dogs, without glossing over the issues. After all, this is one of the biggest challenges facing dog welfare in the UK today.

Many pedigree dogs remain vulnerable to unnecessary disease, disability, pain or behavioural problems because they’re bred primarily for how they look rather than with health, welfare or temperament in mind.

Indeed, footage of some of the dogs at Crufts this year demonstrated the exaggerated features that we are so concerned about. As just one example, during the judging of the Working Group the commentators said that a dog was free from exaggerations. The dog in question clearly had extremely folded skin and drooping eyelids, which can lead to suffering.

Three reports on the welfare problems associated with dog breeding have been published in the UK in the last two years, and the conclusions of each are very clear – urgent action is needed to safeguard the welfare of pedigree dogs.

Although some progress has been made by the dog world, it has not been nearly enough and the problems are far from being solved. Both experts and the various reports on this issue recognise that it will take decades before the problems really begin to be resolved – and only then if sufficient effort is made by everyone in the dog world.

It is extremely misleading to suggest not only that the problems have been solved after only two years, but that pedigree dogs are happy and healthy.

Yours sincerely

Mark Watts
Chief Executive
Wilberforce Way
West Sussex
RH13 9RS


Julie Arnold said…
Have to say I must take issue a little with the RSPCA poster, there 'are' healthy pedigree dogs to be found, and what you see at Crufts is bred for showing and not what those breeds are like all the time, I mean, how many GSD's do you see walking the streets beside their owners with their backs sloping down severely and back legs so low ?
Knitman said…
In fact, the letter from the RSPCA is misleading. It assumes that ALL pedigree dogs are miserable and unhealthy when the majority are indeed happy and healthy. EVEN those shown Unhappy dogs will not show well and will not win. YES, there are breeds that ought not to exist in there present form, that is obvious. However, I am sick and tired of reading/hearing that we are ALL monsters who only care about winning. Most of us keep our dogs as family pets that are shown. Most of us are ethical and avoid as well as we can inherited problems and avoid bad tempers. The ultimate aim of a hardcore of animal rights people want us to not keep pets at all and it seems to me the RSPCA is enabling the extremists. I stopped supporting them years ago when I realised that their main objectives are political and not welfare of animals. Look how much money they wasted on the dog licence campaign. Now they don't even take in strays!
cambstreasurer said…
Please could I clarify that the RSPCA never was responsible for stray dogs, but we DO take in injured strays - often ones the dog warden would have no choice but to put down.

We also take in large numbers of dogs whose "time is up" in local authority kennels.

BUT our first duty is towards the animals who have been taken in as a result of decisions made by frontline staff. It would be absolutely unacceptable if we were to put them down in order to make space to admit animals whose owners have decided they do not want them.
Martin CB said…
Well Mark Watts would say that wouldn't he, as "Chief Executive" of an organisation that abdicated it's responsibility towards general animal welfare to concentrate on softer, more politically advantageous targets a long time ago. The RSPCA is regretably now no more than a political organisation hungry for money and power.

For real cruelty look to the puppy farmers, the food production industries and the indiscriminate backstreet breeders. Here you'll find all the problems you want but these don't have the media kudos the RSPCA so deeply crave.

I still have a photograph produced in the eighties for a RSPCA magazine ad. It shows a pile of over 1000 real dead dogs representing the weekly cull of this "so caring" organisation. The corpses used in the shoot were supplied without any difficulty by just a few local RSPCA "rescue" centres.

In more recent times the organisations own chairperson declared pubically that the RSPCA saw itself as a campaigning organisation not a hands on welfare body. Where is she idea, but I guess her term of tenure at the RSPCA would have helped further her very lucrative career in the "voluntary" sector. I wonder what Mark Watts plans are?

As far as the RSPCA itself is concerned isn't it about time it told the truth about it's motives and activities. How many dogs are still being put down every year? How many cases of real cruelty in puppy farms are still being ignored? How many cases of street cruelty will remain un-investigated. It's time the RSPCA opened itself up to investigation, afterall, it swallows up rather a large amount of money provided by millions of well meaning individuals who have duly swallowed all the lies.
Douglas Resqueue said…
The VAST majority of owners that show their dogs at Crufts and various championship shows DO only care about winning. Why else would they criticise the RSPCA for trying to bring about an end to the suffering of so many breeds. So, maybe you keep your beloved show dogs indoors as pets, but you are guilty by association. I am totally amazed at the comment by Julie Arnold "and what you see at Crufts is bred for showing and not what those breeds are like all the time". So she acknowledges that the dogs at Crufts are freaks and not normal dogs, but still she criticises the RSPCA. One last point (for now), if you dont want to win, why enter a championship show ?
Anonymous said…
I suspect the that the cost of the piece of paper that Mr Watts (or one of his PR Team) had drafted this missive on was in fact more of a cost to the RSPCA that the TOTAL amount of money they have ever donated to canine health research in the last 20+ years, unlike the target of his rant the Kennel Club. The RSPCA do not care about canine health or welfare they just seek power and waste money (even Cambstreasure cant denie the waste of their HO folly spending let alone the building itself when local branches have to go cap in hand for funds!!). The RSPCA are quite clear they don’t like or want there to be dog shows (or I suspect animal type of show) will they next peruse the Horse world, they make great claims about working with the organisers of the Grand National, at which each year many horses are badly injured or KILLED, yet the RSPCA can’t stand by and support this, double standards or what!!
Anonymous said…
For the day out you fool, of all the entries only a handful can win, we get to have a lovely day out which all my dogs love and chit chat with like minded people.
alison.shebelta said…
Well, I had a lovely day at Crufts, talking to like minded people who love dogs. Mine are pets that are shown and I don't feel guilty by association. The very next day my dogs were wallowing in the mud on the park with the rest of their friends. Pity that the RSPCA doesn't put their own house in order and really rescue the poor dogs that are in distress in the puppy farms, now that is where you will see real suffering. I know that my charity money goes to the Rescues who actually do rescue.
Anonymous said…
Like Mark Watts or "Douglas Resqueue" ever been to a dog show let alone Crufts to acyually be qualifeid to make such statements against them?
Sarah G said…
Militant minds seem to miss details-The RSPCA letter DOES NOT assume all pedigree dogs are miserable etc, re-read it- they used adjectives such as "some" or many" . The bottom line is dogs who do well at Crufts will contribute significantly to their breed gene pool due to their success and for those examples which show exagerations, that is often unfortunate for the health & quality of life of the offspring. Crufts & the Kennel Club still have a long way to go to live up to the frequntly used tag-line of "happy, healthy dogs- fit for function". Most of their recent initiatives they were shamed into, are underpinned by working groups & "experts" who share their vanity first ethos. I pity those dogs afflicted with squashed muzzles, infection prone, drooping eyelids, stunted legs, and disabling "furniture". Tally ho though- so long as they Breed Standard is met, breeders who breed such dogs should be ashamed of themselves, however selected judges will continue to reward these blinkered individuals and the cycle continues..
Julie Arnold said…
As I feel my post has been twisted, I would just like to clarify that No, I do not say that dogs shown at Crufts are freaks, what they are is bred to fit within certain guidelines for that breed i.e. I have a GSD girl, but could never show her because she is the size and weight stipulated for a male, so she is too tall, too heavy etc. - this, as far as I am aware, does not make her a freaknor the show dogs - just bred to different standards. I have a GSD boy with a straight back, bred that way specifically, but neither he, nor the showdogs are freaks as long as they can lives happily and healthily.
I choose not to comment on the RSPCA.
cambstreasurer said…
The RSPCA spends enormous amounts of money on veterinary treatment for dogs (and other animals). The combined total number of treatments for all establishments (branch and HQ run) was 217,497 in 2009.

HQ don't break up treatments by species, but if the overall figures are similar to the ones we recorded at Cambridge dogs appear to be twice as likely as cats to need treatment. (2,786 vs 1,243 in 2010).

That's quite a strong suggestion that the more outbred species tends to be healthier overall, and quite often we only find out that a regular dog owner also has cats when one of the cats needs treatment for an injury.

It's not proof that more natural animals are healthier because the figures may simply mean that people on benefits are more likely to own dogs than cats (because they're at home for more of the time).
Anonymous said…
but again Cambtreasure fails to state the RSPCA give NOTHING to ANY animal health research yet critise the ones that do!! and the RSPCA have far more money than all the other welfare charities and waste far more of it tooo..... now that would be a good tv programme "Animal Hospital.......... the true story of money used for lawyers,PR, political Lobbiest and under hand deals with the racing world"
cambstreasurer said…
Certainly the RSPCA would not fund research which involved deliberately inflicting pain on dogs (or other animals).

Apart from clinical research done at RSPCA hospitals the RSPCA also provides financial support for VEctAR
Anonymous said…
I fear that the answer given by Cambstreasure show just how little knowledge they have of Animal health research and it is systematic of the lack or real knowledge of animal welfare in the society. They spend MILLIONS of pound each year for the salary of just 8 people, TENS OF MILLIONS on advertising and nothing on animal health research. How can they say “ RSPCA would not fund research which involved deliberately inflicting pain on dogs” when they refuse to prosecute the person who killed a dog with one violent kick as they said it would of not been a painful death!!!! Again the double standards are beyond belief. The work done at the AHT (funded in the main by the KCCT)is to benefit of all dogs ( not just pedigrees but also other species including man) and they are finding test for conditions that could not previously tested for and despite best intentions of breeders/owner t hey just occur i.e. the LL, PRA DNA test for eyes, so for Cambstreasure to make such a sweeping statement as “deliberately inflicting pain on dogs” labelling such breeders as uncaring is I fear a reason why the RSPCA is no longer credible and should have a Royal Commission to investigate it structure finance and agenda asap. Will the RSPCA continue to criticise dogs shows of course they ever be welcome back to Crufts I hope not , as it only open to real dog lover and lovers of political power
Anonymous said…
it would seem that recent news that the Breed Rescues that the KC supports who now rehome more dogs that Battersea and Dogs Trust Combined, and at a fraction of the cost with great care, knowledge and concern (no GSDs Killed with Bolts)than the RSPCA could ever dream of has got them on the backfoot and so makes the highly paid Mr Watts try and divert the public from their poor track record on animal care by attacking the world of show dogs again.

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