The last three years have been one of criticism and turmoil for the world of pedigree dogs and in particular, for the Kennel Club. Arguments going back years were brought to the masses by Pedigree Dogs Exposed, a TV documentary by Jemima Harrison, highlighting the prevalance of hereditary disease and conformation deformities created by breeding. See link at end for KC chairman response to request from Canine Alliance to suspend vet checks.
The Kennel Club are not the only ones to blame for this world of indiscriminate breeding and trends for dogs with health issues, but the general public who do not show or breed (and a few that do) still perceive the KC and showing as an elite, snobbish club who don’t listen to the man in the street. Having personally taken projects to them for funding assistance to help the serious issue of bull breed breeding and status dogs and been told my application “wouldn’t be looked on favourably” more than once I can see why people feel this way. I do.
Whilst the KC have made some efforts to improve things, there is still a feeling it isn’t enough and that even new rules for judges have not been enforced when a judge refuses to judge to a new standard of looks.
The introduction of independent vet checks for Crufts 2013 was a bold move. It resulted in 6 of the 15 high profile breeds not going forward as best of breed. It is important to stress that this means 9 did pass. The vet has been criticised, I have written on a post about this a link to her response. I applaud the principle, the breed clubs are entitled to have their say too.
There was a great deal of controversy, chat, arguments and more as the dogs failed at Crufts and those who did cannot bear the ills of their whole breed. The breeders responded by having a meeting a few days after Crufts. This meeting, attended by 320 people ended with the formation of the “Canine Alliance – responsible for pedigree dogs”. Whilst I agree that both sides should have their say, an alliance of only breeders, judges and exhibitors is hardly something that should be claiming responsibility for pedigree dogs? I would have preferred this had they decided to appoint someone independent to advise too. It will be interesting to see how their proposals are received at the forthcoming KC Annual meeting.
If the KC are serious about helping to tackle all dog issues and engaging with the dog owning public, most of whom have pets and don’t show, then I’d like to see a lay team acting in an advisory capacity to the KC. Made up of a behaviourist, rescuer and probably at least one other that meet regularly and get listened to.
As long as they are simply talking to themselves, they will never engage with the pet owners who pay them a lot of money and pay to come to shows. Can we find a way forward? I believe this is a make or break year for the world of Pedigree dogs and I hope there is a way.
Edited to add a personal note:
I am a behaviourist with a background in rescue and strays too. I am a GSD fan, also own a gorgeous crossbreed and lost my fabulous 14 year old collie cross last October. I go to quite a few shows, not just Crufts, I have close friends who breed and show and I know their dog’s lives intimately. I have also dumped friends over the years because of their breeding practises regardless of the extent of our friendship. My fear is of separate factions fighting each other and splits within the breeding community and I seriously would like to find a way to build a bridge between them all.
KC Chairman Steve Dean responds to Canine Alliance request to suspend vet checks