It was a cold and frosty November morning that greeted 135 Kennel Club members for the Bi-Annual General Meeting of Kennel Club members held last week at the Royal Aeronautical Society’s refurbished Bill Boeing Lecture Theatre in London’s Mayfair.
With the AGM’s agenda swiftly dealt with and no matters arising it was down to the chairman Mr Ronnie Irving to update members on the chairman’s address circulated to members and published in last week’s issue of OUR DOGS.
He was pleased with the meeting held two weeks ago with various breed council officials and DEFRA representatives over the proposed EU regulations on health issues in various threatened breed. The meeting had been conclusive and had demonstrated the KC’s aim to self regulate ahead of any proposals from Europe.
He said that it was important for the KC to be seen to be addressing such issues.
He also commented on the whole issue of affixes and suffixes being known as ‘kennel titles’ which is to be the norm in the near future.
Commenting favourably on the previous weekend’s Discover Dogs exhibition he was able to tell the members that over 24,000 people visited the show which was largely used as a vehicle to re-launch the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.
In an effort to make the meeting last more that 15 minutes the General Committee had thoughtfully organised two power-point presentations - one from the KC Genetics Co-ordinator Dr Jeff Sampson and one from Mr Bill King a Trustee of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.
Dr Sampson spoke of the progress made in DNA profiling, the sequencing of the Canine Genome and the fact that it had revealed 25,000 ‘plans’ in the make up of the dog. In June 2003 the Human Genome authority in the USA had put up a massive $30m (£18m) to help with canine research realising that there could be cross-benefits for national health in general. Only 13 months later researchers put out the first draft of the Canine Genome Sequencing after using Tasha the Boxer in DNA tests.
So what is the impact on the breeder here in the UK? The immediate benefit has been breed specific DNA profiling and the identification of inherited diseases in certain breeds. More importantly it has also led to DNA tests for breeders helping to eradicate breeds from inherited disease.
Without one nodding member falling off their chair Dr Sampson concluded with the ultimate goal - that of tackling the more complex polygenic disorders and pre-screening DNA testing for breeders.
Dr Sampson concluded by emphasising that huge steps had been made in research in the last few years and that this was due, in no small way, to the investment made by the KC Charitable Trust.
This seamless link led Mr Bill King, a trustee of the KCCT to come to the podium to inform members of the re-launch of the trust under the wording ‘making a difference for dogs’.
Founded in 1987 on a legacy of £20,000 and a KC donation of £50,000 the trust has come a long way disbursing some £2m over the years. This has gone to various health, companion animal and welfare projects. They continue to support such aims and Mr King underlined the progress made in scientific developments since those early years.
Fund raising activities have included the use of a new loyalty based credit card from which the trust benefits, new merchandise and new ideas to raise the profile of the trust including wristbands which glow in the dark. Very valuable for KC members wending their way home after a good lunch these dark days of winter!
The fund also gratefully received a mammoth donation of £300,000 at Discover Dogs from the now defunct PRO Dogs charity which was wound up almost one year ago.
Whether they liked it or not the members were also told of the grant application process and the simple fact that the KC funded all the administration costs enabling all KCCT donations to benefit dogs even more. With technology in mind it was also possible to use the ‘ClickNow’ internet search engine and benefit the KCCT simply by using it as a priority on a PC. It was suggested that the average member could ‘earn’ £50 each year for the trust.
With only one notice of a question regarding benching at shows, and the interpretation of the rules by which all exhibitors have to abide, the 50 minute meeting was closed by the chairman and it was time to venture out once more into the oblique winter light.